Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM


STEMPIEN, Jennifer A.1, BUDD, David1, HILPERT, Jonathan2, KRAFT, Katrien J.3, MCCONNELL, David A.4, PERKINS, Dexter5 and WIRTH, Karl R.6, (1)Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2200 Colorado Ave, Boulder, CO 80309, (2)Department of Curriculum Foundations and Reading, College of Education, Georgia Southern University, 1332 Southern Dr, PO Box 08144, Statesboro, GA 30458, (3)Physical Science, Mesa Community College, 1833 W Southern Ave, Mesa, AZ 85202, (4)Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, (5)Dept. of Geology and Geological Engineering, University of North Dakota, 81 Cornell Street Stop 8358, Grand Forks, ND 58202-8358, (6)Geology Department, Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN 55105,

Understanding student motivation in higher education remains elusive; despite growing concerns on the recruitment of STEM majors and retention. A five year NSF-funded study by the Geoscience Affective Research Network (GARNET) focuses on the changes and impacts of the affective domain (motivation, attitudes, values, etc..) on learning for thousands of introductory physical geology students from 36 faculty from community colleges, master-granting public universities, PhD- granting universities, and liberal arts colleges. The Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) was administered in the beginning and end of a semester to document trends in students’ affective domain while enrolled in these classes.

Confirmatory factor analysis of data from 3140 students from Fall 2008-Spring 2012 was used to develop a parsimonious model for student affect from the 15 original MSLQ subscales. This final model consists of a three factor structure that aligns with findings in the educational psychology literature. The value factor contains the MSLQ subscales of intrinsic goal orientation and task value, the expectancy factor consists of self-efficacy and control of learning beliefs, and the self-regulation factor of effort regulation and meta-cognitive regulation.

Data from over 4000 students in over 130 class sections surveyed Fall 2008- Spring 2013 was evaluated to identify shifts in affect over a semester of introductory physical geology using the model described above. There is a dominant pattern of decline at the classroom level in the aforementioned factors of value, expectancy, and self-regulation over the course of the semester regardless of classroom set up, teaching styles, or institution. The prevalent pattern of decline in student affect over the course of a single semester, regardless of the classroom environment, is cause for concern as there are documented links between the student affect and learning. These surprising findings stress the need of educators to consider more than the cognitive domain in the introductory geology classroom to promote learning and retention.