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Title: A Preliminary Exploration of the Role of Surveys In Student Reflection and Behavior.
Surveys often are used in educational research to gather information about respondents without considering the effect of survey questions on survey-takers themselves. Does the very act of taking a survey influence perspectives, mindsets, and even behaviors? Does a survey itself effectuate attitudinal change? Such effects of surveys, and implications for survey data interpretation, warrant close attention. There is a long tradition of research on surveys as behavioral interventions within political science and social psychology, but limited attention has been given to the topic in engineering education, and higher education more broadly. Recently the engineering education community has started to examine the potential effects of assessment techniques (including surveys) as catalysts for reflection. In March 2014, the Consortium to Promote Reflection in Engineering Education (CPREE), representing a two-year collaboration amongst 12 campuses, was established to promote “a broader understanding and use of reflective techniques in engineering education.”1 CPREE’s formation suggests a growing recognition of reflection as an important and underemphasized aspect of an engineer’s education. CPREE defines reflection as “exploring the meaning of experiences and the consequences of the meanings for future action” and emphasizes the importance of taking action as a result of ascribing meaning to experiences.1 Surveys may be one of several tools that may create opportunities for reflection; others include “exam wrappers” and “homework wrappers” that more » encourage students to explore how they feel about an assignment or task as part of making meaning of it2,3 (and stimulating the kind of reflection that can lead to action). The current study bridges these two frameworks of behavioral interventions and reflection to consider the “extra-ordinate” dimensions of survey-taking and explores how survey participation may (1) support students’ reflection on past experiences, meaningmaking of these experiences, and insights that “inform [their] path going forward,”1 and (2) be associated with students’ subsequent behaviors. We first review a broader literature on the interventional effects on surveys in political studies and social psychology, after which we present the results obtained from including an optional reflection question at the end of an engineering education survey. We conclude that educators would benefit from considering the range of potential impacts that responding to questions may have on students’ thoughts and actions, rather than treating surveys as neutral data collection devices when designing their research. « less
Authors:
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Award ID(s):
1636442
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10043002
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, June 25-28. Columbus, OH.
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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