Enhancing Students' Self-directed Learning and Motivation

Enhancing Students' Self-directed Learning and Motivation

Helene Leong

To prepare our Engineering graduates for the demands of a globalised and innovative economy, we need to equip them with the 21st century skills and motivation to be self-directed learners. While mastery of knowledge and technical skills are essential, students must also be motivated and self-directed in order for purposeful engineering applications and innovation to take place.

This paper describes an initiative adopted at Singapore Polytechnic (SP) to enhance the motivation of engineering students to be self-directed learners. Using a framework based on the principles of Deci and Ryan (2000) on Self Determination Theory and Tony Wagner’s (2012) Creating Innovators, innovative curriculum changes were implemented to enhance the intrinsic motivation and self-determination of learners in 2 programmes: the Diploma in Mechatronics and the Diploma in Civil Engineering with Business.

The curriculum changes, adopted since 2012, were aimed at enhancing the students’ intrinsic motivation through meeting their psychological needs of mastery, autonomy, purpose and relatedness (Deci and Ryan, 2000). Implemented into all 3 years of study, the changes focussed on play in the first year, passion in second year and purpose in the third year.

The paper will also share a study conducted to ascertain the impact of the changes in the 2 programmes on students’ motivation. While quantitative and qualitative results showed improved students’ motivation and engagement in learning, more needs to be done to develop the students’ skills for self-directedness and self-determination. The paper will also reflect on the strategies used and suggest improvements for future implementation.

Proceedings of the 12th International CDIO Conference, Turku, Finland, June 12-16 2016

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