Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering and Science Education

Committee Member

Dr. Lisa Benson, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. David Matthew Boyer

Committee Member

Dr. Marian Kennedy

Committee Member

Dr. Adam Kirn


This dissertation presents multiple studies with the purpose of understanding the connections between undergraduate engineering students' motivations, specifically students' Future Time Perspectives (FTPs) and Self-Regulated Learning (SRL). FTP refers to the views students hold about the future and how their perceptions of current tasks are affected by these views. SRL connects the behaviors, metacognition, and motivation of students in their learning. The goals of this research project were to 1) qualitatively describe and document engineering students' SRL strategies, 2) examine interactions between engineering students' FTPs and SRL strategy use, and 3) explore goal-setting as a bridge between FTP and SRL. In an exploratory qualitative study with mid-year industrial engineering students to examine the SRL strategies used before and after an SRL intervention, results showed that students intended to use more SRL strategies than they attempted. However, students self-reported using new SRL strategies from the intervention. Students in this population also completed a survey and a single interview about FTP and SRL. Results showed perceptions of instrumentality of coursework and skills as motivation for using SRL strategies, and a varied use of SRL strategies for students with different FTPs. Overall, three types of student FTP were seen: students with a single realistic view of the future, conflicting ideal and realistic future views, or open views of the future. A sequential explanatory mixed methods study was conducted with mid-year students from multiple engineering majors. First a cluster analysis of survey results of FTP items compared to FTP interview responses was used for participant selection. Then a multiple case study was conducted with data collected through surveys, journal entries, course performance, and two interviews. Results showed that students with a well-defined FTP self-regulated in the present based on their varied perceptions of instrumentality for their present tasks and evaluated and adapted their SRL strategies based on grades. Students with conflicting perceptions of the future used a high level of SRL in courses related to both conflicting future paths or related to their short-term goals. Students with open views had high SRL in most of their courses due to a high perception of instrumentality for their present courses. Implications for practice include use of a context-based SRL intervention to teach effective learning strategies, a shift of key general education courses to earlier in the engineering curriculum, and utilization of career-focused problems to support student FTP development and stress the importance of course content in future engineering careers.



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