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Title: Relationship Between Goal Orientation, Agency, and Motivation in Undergraduate Civil Engineering Students
Understanding the underlying psychological constructs that affect undergraduate engineering students’ academic achievement and persistence can inform curricular and programmatic changes in engineering education, with the goal of increasing access and advancement in engineering for a diverse population of students. As part of a larger study examining student experiences in a civil engineering department undergoing curricular and cultural changes, this quantitative study investigated the relationship between goal orientation, agency, and time-oriented motivation, differences in this relationship across academic years, and potential influences from personality types. The larger project seeks to examine the motivation, identity, and sense of belonging for undergraduate civil engineering students; this paper seeks to construct a conceptual model explaining the interactive nature of some of these constructs. A previously tested and established survey that draws from multiple theories of motivation and other affective factors such as agency and identity, and that includes Big 5 personality constructs, was used to collect data from second, third-and fourth-year civil engineering students over a two-year period. Prior studies have focused on the instrument’s latent constructs with sense of belonging. However, no analysis has been conducted to examine how some of the constructs influence each other. Specific latent constructs of goal orientation, agency more » (students’ beliefs that their career in science or engineering can lead to positive effects on the world), FTP, and personality were selected for secondary data analysis based on theory presented in the literature about relationships between motivation, goal setting, agency, and student perceptions of their future. The sample size of respondents was 843; data cleaning and deletion of missing data (65cases; 7.7%) resulted in a final sample size of 778(92.3% of the original data). This included328 second year, 294 third year and 156 fourth year students. Statistical analyses and modeling included bivariate correlational analysis, MANOVA and MANCOVA. Results indicated significant correlation between goal orientation, agency, and time-oriented motivation. Furthermore, differences in these constructs between academic years and personality type influenced the relationship. FTP differed between sophomores and seniors, with seniors having higher scores, suggesting motivation increases as time in the program increases. Personality significantly influenced these relationships in different ways but had the strongest effect on agency. The findings that certain types of people are not only motivated to go into civil engineering but believe their major will make a difference in the world, have implications for educational practice. Results align with current literature but also shed light onto the effects of personality on time-oriented motivation and agency, expanding theory in engineering education. Further research is needed to determine if the effects of personality hold true for other engineering and science majors. « less
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2021 ASEE Annual Conference
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National Science Foundation
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