This research paper presents the initial results of a multi-institute study comparing motivational factors between freshmen and senior mechanical engineering design students. A total of 418 freshman and senior undergraduate mechanical engineering students enrolled at the Florida Institute of Technology and the Pennsylvania State University Erie are studied. To measure motivation we utilize an adaptation of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ). The MSLQ examines five factors when measuring motivation and performance. The motivational factors are test anxiety, self-efficacy, and intrinsic value while the performance factors are cognitive value, and self-regulation. Surveys are administered during both the beginning (first two weeks) and end (final two weeks) of the semester. Data is collected from freshmen and seniors through their introduction to engineering and senior design courses, respectively, at both institutes. Statistical analysis compares Likert scale student responses to demographic data. The analysis compares the motivational factors for female versus male, international versus domestic, and senior versus freshman students. Results indicate there is a change in motivational factors as students’ progress from freshman to seniors. Most of the changes are positive, such as a decrease in anxiety, increase in self-recognition, and increase in intrinsic value. Moreover, there were differences between Florida Tech and Penn State students as the makeup of both student bodies are different. This paper will compare the results and provide recommendations for improving motivational factors in freshman students to support their engineering studies and persistence in engineering.

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