Exploring Students' Motivation to Engage in Sustainable Engineering Practice
This study used a quantitative approach to explore Canadian undergraduate students’ motivation to engage in sustainable engineering practice. Engineering is considered to be a key profession for sustainable development, which requires engineers and engineering students to be motivated. An ex-post facto design was used to measure students’ stereotypes of and previous experiences with, self-concept of abilities of, and relative value of sustainable engineering practice. These elements were used to investigate and compare students’ motivation levels across gender, year of study, and engineering discipline. A survey instrument was developed specifically for this study and was tested in a mixed method pilot study with a sample of graduate engineering students. After the pilot study, the improved survey instrument was distributed to undergraduate students at eight engineering institutions across Canada. The results from the survey instrument suggested that students’ have high value for but limited experiences with sustainable engineering practice. As a result, the the results suggested that students are not necessarily motivated to engage in sustainable engineering practice. Male students were found to have slightly higher self-concepts of some of their abilities and no differences were found among year of study. Most differences occurred among the engineering disciplines in the Stereotypes and Previous Experiences factors. Students in the ECE and Science, and Mechanical- Based disciplines had less positive and more limited experiences than students in the Chemical- and Environmental-Based disciplines. There were some differences between the ECE and Science and the Environmental-Based disciplines in students’ relative value. Generally, students valued sustainable engineering practice more for utility than intrinsic reasons. In all disciplines, students were biased towards the environmental element of sustainable engineering practice and incorporated only simplistic considerations. A universal definition and understanding of sustainable engineering practice should be adopted to provide a foundation for practice. Generally, students require more experiences with sustainable engineering practice in their engineering programs. To address the differences among the disciplines, discipline-specific interventions should be developed to address the application and integration of the social, economic, environmental, and multidimensional elements of sustainable engineering practice.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/15926
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