Motivating Civil Engineering Students: Self-Determinacy Perspective

Hector Martin*, Sapphire Vital, Leighton Ellis, Charmaine Obrien-Delpesh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Motivation is a psychological construct shown to influence an individual's success. Researchers have focused on factors affecting student motivation but have neglected to address the temporal changes in student motivation and the effects of these changes on academic performance. The purpose of this paper is to answer three main questions: What variables motivate students? Do the motivational variables change over time? And is there a relationship between the motivational variables that influence students and their academic performance as measured in grade point average (GPA)? Using a questionnaire survey approach, this study explores self-determinacy theory to evaluate students' progression over a three-year enrollment in an undergraduate civil and environmental engineering degree. The evaluation showed that internal factors are the primary motivators of students with high GPA. Also, students' quality and the quantity of motivation decreased with time in pursuit of a constant goal. Gender differences highlighted that females had superior self-regulatory practices to males. By setting intermediate report deadlines with performance feedback, educators would improve male students' self-regulatory practices through an improvement of their organization and goal setting skills. These findings provide a better understanding of student attrition than previously acknowledged in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Article number04018005
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice
Issue number4
Early online date25 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Society of Civil Engineers.


  • Academic performance
  • Cognitive theory
  • Educational philosophy
  • Learning motivation
  • Self-determinacy theory
  • Student motivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Motivating Civil Engineering Students: Self-Determinacy Perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this