Understanding motivation in large groups of engineering and computing students

R. Ramirez-Iniguez*, U. Canton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


A wide variety of theories of learning and teaching recognises motivation as an essential prerequisite for successful learning. The ability to maintain and enhance student motivation is therefore one of the most important skills for HE lecturers, and many publications and training programmes devote considerable space and time to this matter. Applying this theoretical knowledge in practice, however, remains difficult due to the complexity of the concept and the number of different models of motivation available. Furthermore practical aspects, such as large size of many classes make it difficult for lecturers to identify the areas and level of interests of their students. This project aimed at addressing these two difficulties: by developing a motivation profile of a large student cohort of a core engineering module (SCQF level 9) at Glasgow Caledonian it provided the basis for changes in learning and teaching activities aimed at enhancing student learning on this module. At the same time it examined whether two popular theories of motivation, included in a number of relevant publication and programmes in teaching and learning in Higher Education, can be successfully applied to a student population. Vrooms expectancy model (1964 in McKenna 2003) and Herzbergs distinction between hygiene and motivation factors, originated in studies on the workplace. Their applicability to HE students could thus be questioned. The results, obtained through two questionnaires based on these models, suggest that expectancy theory is relevant to students learning experience and that greater transparency about the future valence of course contents can raise their motivation. Differences between hygiene and motivation factors, on the other hand, were less clearly visible.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • engineering and computing students
  • motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering (miscellaneous)


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