The overarching goal of this research paper is understanding the motivations and attitudes of students in engineering majors, which is vital to answering the call for increasing the number of engineering graduates. Our project aim is to study students’ future time perspective (FTP), a type of motivation relating how students view their future and how they act in the present. In particular, we are studying Industrial Engineering (IE) majors and how their FTP affects their present use of self-regulated learning (SRL) strategies. We are interested in SRL strategy use because students who are self-regulated have been shown to achieve higher academic success and graduate at a higher rate. This study is a pilot of a larger, mixed methods sequential explanatory study that aims to capture the experience of each participant in regards to their SRL strategy use and its connection with the student’s FTP.
Three categories of FTP have been identified in previous qualitative work of engineering undergraduates. Students from each category differ in perceived instrumentality of tasks, short versus long term goal setting, and perceptions of their future. Additionally, SRL has been well-documented for students, such as the development of the Self-Regulated Learning Scale (SRLIS). However, little is known about how the types of SRL strategies students utilize in the present are related to their FTPs.
The quantitative portion of this study describes a cluster analysis based on a motivation survey that characterizes students’ FTP, which was completed by XX IE undergraduates at our institution. The qualitative portion of our study comprises case studies of four IE students. We piloted a semi-structured interview protocol to assess connections between students’ FTP and SRL use. Each interview was transcribed, read multiple times, and coded separately before a cross-case analysis. The FTP section of the interviews were coded using a previously established a priori coding scheme. The SRL items were a priori coded based on the SRLIS framework. Then, each interview was coded for the connection between FTP and SRL using emergent coding.
Students with one FTP type typically have an open view of the future; this allows for varying degrees of instrumentality of present tasks as they do not set a long-term goal after graduation. Analysis of an interview of this type of student featured broad and short-term goal setting, such as “get through this semester.” Additionally, this student described an ill-defined view of the future with several stated desired outcomes and high perceived instrumentality for coursework and course specific tasks. These are common themes found in previous literature for this type of FTP. The student described a a strong use of SRL strategies and a connection of this use with high perceived instrumentality and the desire for a high GPA. The full paper will describe further connections between SRL strategies and FTPs in the remaining three case studies.
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