Examining the Impact of Student Motivation on Performance in Mechanical Engineering Design Courses
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Design courses are an integral component of undergraduate engineering education. Design is recognized as one of the primary responsibilities of an engineer in industry. New designs are responsible for stimulating sales and company growth.1 This dissertation outlines a study seeking to explore the impact of student motivation factors on course performance of mechanical engineering students in design courses. The first design course, cornerstone design, takes place during the first semester of freshman year. The second course, capstone design, takes place during the student’s final year of undergraduate study. An adapted version of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) is used to measure five motivation factors: cognitive value, self-regulation, test/presentation anxiety, intrinsic value, and self-efficacy. Motivation is measured against the final grade in the course, which is used as the performance metric. The major contribution of this research is the ability to examine the impact of motivation on performance in design courses. The motivation and performance is also measured against student demographic information with regard to student gender, residency (domestic or international), family income, and highest degree attained by parents to determine if a correlation is realized. Additionally, the longitudinal study focuses on a single cohorts of students. This affords the ability for the examination of the differences in motivation between the students’ freshman and senior year to determine if this can be correlated to student gender, residency (domestic or international), family income, and degree attained by parents. The results indicate that motivation is a key factor in the students’ performance in design curriculum. All five of the motivation factors are found to impact the students’ performance; however, different motivation factors are found to impact the students’ performance at different points in time. This proves the multidimensional and dynamic nature of motivation. The quantitative findings are further explored through qualitative data analysis to explore variables impacting the students’ motivation and performance throughout their capstone design sequence. A total of 69 unique codes were identified through the student interviews, providing useful feedback on student experiences in senior capstone design at Florida Institute of Technology.