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ERIC Number: ED523123
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 143
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1243-3608-4
ISSN: N/A
Measurement of Student Attitudes in First Year Engineering--A Mixed Methods Approach
Malik, Qaiser Hameed
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Michigan State University
This research study focused on freshman attitudes towards engineering in a newly implemented cornerstone sequence that emphasized holistic design experiences. The students' initial attitudes and changes in these attitudes were examined with the explanatory mixed methods approach that allows a sequential examination of the target population with two methods, using two sets of data, to investigate the treatment effects. In the quantitative phase, the study compared changes in freshman attitude towards engineering, between the new "design sequence" group (composed of freshmen in the cornerstone sequence) and the prior "traditional sequence" group (composed of all other freshmen), over the course of one semester. The data were collected in fall 2008 at two time intervals and changes in the two groups' attitudes were examined with repeated measures analysis of covariance models. The analyses reported here include data from 389 students out of the total population of 722 freshmen. The analyses revealed that engineering freshmen joined the program with positive or strongly positive attitudes towards engineering. Those strong attitudes were durable and resistant to change. Students in the design sequence group had higher ACT scores, enjoyed math and science the most, and did not believe engineering to be an exact science. However, no appreciable time-group interaction was observed. To validate the quantitative results, an interview protocol was developed to investigate initial freshman attitudes and changes, if any, that took place as a result of the new cornerstone sequence. One-on-one interviews with a sample of ten students out of the population of 272 freshmen revealed that freshmen in the cornerstone sequence entered the program full of enthusiasm and idealism, and with strongly positive attitudes towards engineering. The strong motivational factors included parental/teacher influences, childhood motivations, and high school extra-curricular experiences. The participants appreciated the team work and problem solving aspects of engineering; however, they reported negative experiences in the cornerstone sequence. Interestingly, their overall perception about engineering was not affected by any of the negative experiences. The qualitative phase substantiated the belief that strong attitudes are harder to change; they are durable, they have impact, and they are not significantly affected by a short treatment. The results of this mixed methods study indicate that changing student attitudes may not be an easy task. One must develop a better understanding of student attitudes in order to improve understanding of the fine-grained details of curriculum and its implementation to be able to develop more effective cornerstone design courses. Clearly, tight and focused quantitative studies complemented with a qualitative component provide a much broader and deeper insight into the learning that takes place in freshman courses. This research also documents the use of a longitudinal study to track the design sequence group and observe their performance in their junior and senior years. This would provide a better understanding of the long term effects of the new sequence. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/individuals.shtml.]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/individuals.shtml
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A