Motivational and Cognitive Learning Strategies Used by First-Year Engineering Undergraduate Students at Universidad Católica in Chile


The learning process is sensitive to the demands from the learning task and the specific subject of study. This study provides a characterization of the motivational and cognitive learning strategies used by students in their first year of an undergraduate Civil Engineering degree course at a prestigious Chilean university. The module considered for this study was “Introduction to Calculus”, the first course in Mathematics that these students took at the beginning of their career. A sample of 339 students (73% of the total students enrolled) attended the last lecture and consented to participate in this study lecture (no student rejected to participate). They answered the Motivated Strategies Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ). The MSLQ asked the students about the motivational and cognitive learning strategies that they applied in the selected module. Mean scores for motivational and cognitive items were categorized into low, medium or high values. Students reported high motivational strategies, particularly regarding their value of the task and their control of learning beliefs. These were ranked as “high” level. As for the cognitive learning strategies, they were also high but slightly lower than the motivational dimensions of the learning experience. Hence, they were ranked in an upper-middle range, excelling in metacognitive self-regulation and effort regulation. Moreover, motivational and cognitive strategies were interrelated components affecting the learning outcomes. This study explored self-reported motivational and cognitive learning strategies applied by first-year undergraduate students of a Civil Engineering degree course in one of the largest universities in Chile. Our findings suggest that both motivational and cognitive components of the learning process are relevant and interact with each other. These results contribute to a better understanding of the learning process of Engineering students in an early curricular stage. Hence, they provide relevant knowledge that could be applied in teaching and learning practices in higher education.

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Anais, M. , Hojas, A. , Bustos, A. , Letelier, C. , Zuzulich, M. , Cabieses, B. & Zubiaguirre, M. (2012). Motivational and Cognitive Learning Strategies Used by First-Year Engineering Undergraduate Students at Universidad Católica in Chile. Creative Education, 3, 811-817. doi: 10.4236/ce.2012.326121.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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