2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Reflection and Goal Setting: Methods for Improved Performance and Engagement in Engineering Courses

Presented at Student Division (STDT) Technical Session 1: Student Success and Mentoring

Students who consistently set goals and reflect on the outcome of their efforts get the most out of their engineering education. Instead of solely focusing on the technical content of their courses, the most successful engineering students form habits that include evaluating their aspirations, performance, time management, commitment level, etc. Additionally, faculty who encourage these practices in their courses may see better student engagement and knowledge retention. Unfortunately, these skills rarely come naturally to students, and many do not get the chance to develop them before pursuing their undergraduate degree. Engineering courses should not only help students learn technical content but should also help them develop the skills of goal setting, expectation development, reflection, and self-assessment. This paper aims to address the following two research questions: 1) What are the effects of self-efficacy, goal setting, and reflection on undergraduate engineering students? 2) What would a practical model for implementing these strategies look like for students and faculty?

To do so, this paper reviews the available literature on self-efficacy, implicit beliefs (growth mindset), and resilience, describing their importance for engineering students. The authors also present a literature review of specific techniques that are useful in developing self-efficacy—goal setting and reflection. The paper then outlines a process students can use to enhance their personal goal setting and reflection techniques that could help improve comprehension of the technical content of their engineering courses. The authors offer suggestions for faculty, from a student perspective, on techniques and mindsets related to self-efficacy, goal setting, and reflection that they can incorporate into their classrooms to help with student engagement and knowledge retention.

  1. Kathryn Christopher Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University [biography]
  2. C.J. Witherell Grand Valley State University [biography]
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