Discipline: Science and Mathematics Education
Demetrius Moore - North Carolina A&T State University
Co-Author(s): Andrea N. Ofori-Boadu, NC A&T State University, NC
The COVID-19 pandemic caused large disruptions in educational systems. STEM studentscomplained about lack of motivation to learn and complete course requirements. To provide moretargeted interventions during future high-risk situations, it is important to gain insights into learningmotivation challenges (LMC) during the pandemic. As part of a nationwide study investigatingdecision-making processes in STEM students during COVID-19, the purpose is to examineinteractions between Student Classification and LMCs. Qualtrics-based surveys requiredundergraduate STEM students in six US institutions to use a five-point Likert scale to rank theextent of their agreement to 15 LMC statements. Qualtrics crosstab analysis tools were utilized toanalyze data from 190 surveys using four student classification subgroups.Compared to upperclassmen, underclassmen tended to agree to the lack of in-person professor andpeer interactions LMC. Maturity and familiarity with STEM program resources and requirementsmay have enhanced the capacity of upperclassmen to work more independently. Freshmen seemedmost concerned about lack of in-person laboratory experiences. Findings showed that relationshipsbetween Classification and two LMCs, equipment challenges (p=0.00) and assignment overload(p=0.01), were statistically significant. Freshmen tended to disagree with equipment challenges andassignment overload LMCs because typical entry-level courses tend to be less challenging andrequire minimal STEM specialized resources. Students tended to attribute lowered motivation toinstitutional and domestic challenges which were typically out of their control, rather than topersonal challenges which were typically within their control. Overall, sophomores were mostlikely to agree to LMC statements, making them appear most vulnerable. They had the highestpercentage of agreement with seven of the 15 LMCs. This may be attributed to the well-documented sophomore slump, which is characterized by developmental confusion, transition fromstructured first year to more independent second year, uncertainty in career or personal identity,changing academic majors, redefining social engagement, and the middle-child or forgotten yearsyndrome because they are no longer the center of attention. Also, it is hypothesized that unlikefreshmen who have just begun the college journey and have significant resources dedicated to theirsuccess, or juniors and seniors who anticipate graduation, sophomores may have fewer reasons tostay motivated in high-risk STEM educational environments such as the COVID-19 pandemic. It isimportant that early identification strategies are followed by effective and targeted interventions toenhance motivation and performance of STEM students. Insights contribute to improving studentand institutional resiliency during future high-risk situations such as pandemics. Future researchwill assess the effectiveness of targeted interventions.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): This study was supported by an National Science Foundation grant (NSF2028811) awarded to Dr. Andrea Ofori-Boadu, an Associate Professor at North Carolina Agriculturaland Technical State University.
Faculty Advisor: Andrea Ofori-Boadu, firstname.lastname@example.org
Role: Used 190 surveys to determine learning motivation challenges during COVID.