Impact of an authentic, student-centered engineering project on student motivation

Rose M. Marra, Timothy F. Wheeler

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Scopus citations


    The Student Projects In Rocket Investigative Techniques (SPIRIT) project used teaching innovation and flexibility to forge a highly successful and popular two-year project course at Penn State University. A combination of traditional and non-traditional teaching methods were used to: 1) maintain a base of common knowledge pertaining to the scientific/engineering mission among a highly diverse student population, and 2) allow students to focus on the knowledge and skills of most interest to them. This paper discusses the impact of this course and project on student motivation levels as measured by the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) and student focus groups. Initial results show that even without academic `rewards', SPIRIT students demonstrated a consistently high level of motivation and enthusiasm for the project. In addition, first and second year students rated the SPIRIT project more motivating than a comparison course to a statistically significant extent. The impact of these results in terms of future curricular reform is also discussed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference
    StatePublished - 2000

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Engineering(all)
    • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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