|M.Sc Student||Abraham Gershon|
|Subject||Engineering Preparatory Programs: Students' Motivation|
and Academic Achievement
|Department||Department of Education in Science and Technology||Supervisor||Dr. Aharon Gero|
|Full Thesis text - in Hebrew|
Engineering preparatory programs offer candidates who have not attained adequate achievements in their high school studies an opportunity to improve their chances to be accepted to undergraduate science and engineering programs. On engineering preparatory programs, which typically last nine months, students intensively study mathematics, physics and English at a high school level. Due to the students' weak academic background and the preparatory program intensity, motivation plays an important role in a program of this sort. The relevant literature, however, mainly deals with the academic motivation of high school students involved in engineering activities and of undergraduate engineering students.
The study characterized the motivation for higher education in science and engineering among students attending an engineering preparatory program and examined whether a relation exists between such motivation and the students' academic achievement. Self-determination theory served as the theoretical framework for this study. The participants were students who attended the physics course in the engineering preparatory program at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology. The study utilized quantitative tools as well as qualitative ones.
Students dropped out along the line, and from the middle of the course onwards, only two thirds (40) of the initial number of students (60) attended the course. According to the findings, at the beginning of the course the students were motivated primarily by interest in studying science and engineering (intrinsic motivation) and by recognition of the value inherent to these studies (identified regulation). Nonetheless, alongside these factors introjected regulation, according to which some of the students were studying in order to fulfill the expectations of other people, also bore notable weight. Regarding the second half of the course, no significant differences were found between the motivational factors at the middle of the course and those at its end. In both cases, the students were driven primarily by intrinsic motivation and identified regulation.
At the end of the program, the weight of motivational factors characterized by a relatively high degree of perceived control (among the students who completed the program) was lower compared to the weight found at the beginning of the program among all students, whereas the weight of motivational factors characterized by a relatively high degree of perceived autonomy was slightly higher. This gap may stem from the following reasons: (1) in the first half of the program, students characterized by a relatively high initial degree of perceived control have stopped attending classes and/or (2) in the course of the program (especially in the first half of the program), the degree of perceived autonomy of the students who completed the program has increased.
The current study indicates significant negative correlation between external regulation and academic achievement, and positive correlation between the Relative Autonomy Index and academic achievement.