22 SES 05 B, Teaching, Learning and Assesment in Higher Education
This study follows a tradition of investigation into the causes of and potential remedies for the relative decline in enrollment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies in North America and Europe (OECD, 2006). According to self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000), students highly intrinsically motivated to study sciences are more likely to persevere in those studies than peers whose motivation is highly externally regulated, because high intrinsic motivation implies engagement in learning stemming from personal interest and enjoyment in doing it.Sources of intrinsic motivation are linked to parental support for autonomy and competence (Ryan & Deci, 2000). This led us to conjecture that parental support for science culture might also have a positive impact on intrinsic motivation toward STEM studies.
This study also relies on the theory of mind as presented by Baron-Cohen (2002). Human brain functions have developed so as to sustain our species’ adaptation to our environment. Humans, to adapt to the inanimate environment, developed a cognitive skill that Baron-Cohen calls systemising (SQ). SQ is a drive to understand laws and rules governing behaviours of inanimate systems, a yearning to analyse and create structured models of such systems. Recent research suggests that SQ is one of two cognitive styles people use daily in their reasoning, and, on average, males tend to be better at systemising than females (Baron-Cohen et al., 2003). Since understanding and predicting patterns of behaviour of physical objects is an important skill in science, not surprisingly Billington et al. (2007) discovered that the majority of students choosing to study physical sciences were strong systemisers. Thus, we hypothesize that SQ may be another source of intrinsic motivation to study science, resulting in higher perseverance in science studies. Further, past work by this team (Dedic et al., 2009) showed that, whether in Sweden or Canada, STEM students having lower SQ scores tended to have higher learning anxiety and lower intrinsic motivation. Academic emotions, in particular, anxiety, correlate negatively with student intrinsic motivation and achievement (Pekrun, Goetz, Titz & Perry, 2002; Goetz, Preckel, Pekrun & Hall, 2006). We hypothesized that if high intrinsic motivation was linked to SQ, then highly intrinsically motivated students would be less likely to experience anxiety during their studies than their externally regulated peers, and consequently, would be more likely to persevere.
Thus, our research questions are:
What differences can we observe when comparing intrinsically motivated STEM students to externally regulated STEM students?
Does a student’s cultural background (Sweden versus Canada) impact on these motivational differences?
While cultural background was not a factor in the impact of SQ, parental support factors might be different. We naturally expected that intrinsically motivated STEM students would persevere more, but are there other factors, aside from parental support for autonomy and competence, that could possibly be seen as causal for motivational differences. This added the following research question:
When comparing intrinsically motivated STEM students to externally regulated STEM students, do they differ significantly in early childhood science acculturation, as guided by parents, or in SQ?
Baron-Cohen, S. (2002). The Extreme Brain Theory of Autism. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 6(6), 248-254. Baron-Cohen, S., Richler, J., Bisarya, D., Gurunathan, N. & Wheelwright, S. (2003). The systemizing quotient: an investigation of adults with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism, and normal sex differences. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 358, 361-374. Billington, J., Baron-Cohen, S. & Wheelwright, S. (2006). Cognitive style predicts entry into physical sciences and humanities: Questionnaire and performance tests of empathy and systemizing. Learning and Individual Differences, 17, 260-268. Dedic, H., Jungert, T., Rosenfield, S. & Rosenfield, E. (2009). Cognitive Style and Science Achievement of Canadian and Swedish College Level Students. Paper delivered at the annual meeting of EERA, ECER, Vienna, Austria. Goetz, T., Preckel, F., Pekrun, R. & Hall, N. C. (2007). Emotional experiences during test taking: Does cognitive ability make a difference? Learning and Individual Differences, 17, 1, 3-16. Magidson, J. & Vermunt, J. K. (2008). LG-Syntax User’s Guide: Manual for Latent GOLD 4.5 Syntax Module, Belmont, MA: Statistical Innovations. OECD (2006). Evolution of Student Interest in Science and Technology Studies. Policy Report. Global Science Forum: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Pekrun, R., Goetz, T., Titz, W. & Perry, R. P. (2002). Academic emotions in students' self-regulated learning and achievement: A program of qualitative and quantitative research. Educational Psychologist, 37(2), 91-105. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 54-67. Vallerand, R. J., Pelletier, L. G., Blais, M. R., Brière, N. M., Senécal, C. B. & Vallières, E. F. (1992). The Academic Motivation Scale: A measure of intrinsic, extrinsic, and amotivation in education. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 52, 1003-1019.
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.