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Title: Identity‐ based motivation: Connections between first‐year students' engineering role identities and future‐time perspectives
Abstract Background

Research in engineering education has highlighted the importance of identity and motivation for a number of student outcomes, including persistence. However, these constructs have often been studied separately, despite theorized and demonstrated connections between students' identity and motivation in other fields.


Our study fills this gap by investigating the connections between identity and motivation. We specifically examined the connections between students' engineering role identity and future‐time perspective (FTP; a theory of human motivation) theories to understand students' interest in choosing an engineering major after their first year, which we call continuing engineering major interest.


The data came from a questionnaire distributed during Fall 2015 (n = 2,879). Structural equation modeling was used to understand the connections between the latent factors of engineering role identity and FTP. We also examined the predictive validity of this model on students' continuing engineering major interest.


Our results show connections between students' engineering role identity and the domain‐specific constructs of FTP. Identity was fully mediated by students' FTPs, and these perspectives were important for predicting continuing major interest. Engineering role identity measures explained a combined 69% of the variance in the FTP measures, and engineering role identity and FTP measures together explained 14.2% of the variance in engineering major interest.


These findings provide empirical evidence for linking identity and motivation in studies of engineering students' career pathways. The results of this work inform how theories of identity and motivation can be used collectively in engineering education research.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Engineering Education
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 362-383
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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