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Title: Student competency, autonomy, and relatedness in a practice-oriented engineering program: An application of self-determination theory
For engineering students, how might three basic needs—competency, autonomy, and relatedness—promote intrinsic motivation among students? In this research paper, two studies are presented which assess satisfaction and relationship of these basic needs among students in a project-based, undergraduate-only engineering program. In study one, a quantitative study, we surveyed students (N = 162) using the Situational Motivation Scale and the Basic Need Satisfaction Scale (BNSS). The results of study one are consistent with previous research showing strong correlations between the three basic needs and intrinsic motivation. In study two, a qualitative study, we analyzed in-depth phenomenologically based interviews (N = 9 participants resulting in 756 pages of single-spaced transcripts) using the BNSS as a heuristic framework to identify instances when students express satisfaction or frustration of competency, autonomy, and relatedness. Study two illustrates when and how supportive contexts and behaviors contribute to feelings of competency, autonomy, and relatedness. These studies expand research on SDT by showing ways in which engineering students develop feelings of competency, how specific needs-supportive actions contributed to feelings of competency, and the roles of autonomy and relatedness in the development of competency.  more » « less
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ASEE Annual Conference proceedings
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National Science Foundation
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