Academic journal article
By Ponton, Michael K.; Edmister, Julie Horine; Ukeiley, Lawrence S.; Seiner, John M.
Journal of Engineering Education , Vol. 90, No. 2
The engineering professor's role is dualistic in the sense that not only must s/he create an academic environment conducive to the acquisition of course content but must also prepare students to become practicing professionals. This dualism requires that the professor both motivate good study habits as well as build within students the confidence that they have the requisite capability to perform actual engineering. Self-efficacy, simply defined as one's self-judgment concerning capability, has been shown to be an important mediating factor in cognitive motivation. This paper describes the motivating role ofthe professor, theories of motivation, the role of self-efficacy in motivation, and guiding principles that can be used to enhance self-efficacy in engineering students. These principles can serve as guidelines in designing instructional delivery strategies that motivate engineering students to engage in behaviors conducive to becoming value-added practitioners.
Northouse,1 defines leadership as "a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal." Thus, to be successful as a leader, an individual must understand "influence" (i.e., motivation), the "common goal" (i.e., the desired future state), and marry the two understandings to create an environment that actively engages the "group of individuals" to follow the leader. Within this simple definition of leadership, one can easily interpret the professorial role as being one of leading a group of students toward the goal of scholarship.
But academically motivating a group of students can be a difficult task. This may be due, in part, to a lack of incorporating effective motivating strategies by the professor, incorporating strategies that are effective for only a portion of the group, or disparate beliefs concerning what constitutes the "common goal." Because of these difficulties, simple metrics of accomplishment are often adopted that lead us to believe (or fool our evaluators to believe) that we are doing an adequate job in our teaching duties. "Teaching and testing for the right answers" is an often-used phrase that describes this ineffective situation of telling students (teaching?) specifically what and how they will be expected to answer on an examination. Subsequently, student grade point averages are often used for program evaluation where one program is proclaimed better than another because the students in the former have higher grades.2 Anderson et al.3 assert that "grades are, at best, a contaminated measure of achievement" due to many psychometric and social factors. Subsequently, when engineering graduates are incapable of "engineering" anything of value or are incapable of lifelong learning within their chosen discipline, we all too often look elsewhere for the problem rather than critically evaluating the processes that we have control over within our own classrooms.
Motivating behavior is a complicated process due to its individualistic nature. People have different goals, values, and outcome expectancies and have developed different ideas on how best to reach their desired future states. Social cognitive theory,4,5 posits that human agency (i.e., intentional behavior) is influenced by the reciprocal interaction between personal behavior, internal personal factors (i.e., one's cognitive, biological, and affective characteristics), and the environment (i.e., everything external to the individual) where all three determinants interact with various magnitudes of influence that is context dependent. The complication of this reciprocity of influence is evidenced by examples of behaviors that are influenced by subjective, not objective, interpretations of society. As Ponton, Carr, and Confessore,6 assert: "Much of human thought and action is influenced by societal norms, but cognized beliefs and attitudes also influence behavioral intentions... and subsequent behaviors. …