The STEAM-Active (Project Number: 2021-1-ES01-KA220-HED-000032107) project is funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.

Motivational decline and recovery in higher education STEM courses

Partners' Institution
Fundacion para la Formacion Tecnica en Maquina-Herramienta
Year of publication
Educational stage
University Level
Journal name
Thematic Area
STEAM intervention (teaching strategies, evaluation...)
Decline in student motivation is a concern for STEM education, especially for underrepresented groups in the sciences. Using the Science Motivation Questionnaire II, 41 foundational STEM courses were surveyed at the beginning and end of each semester in an academic year at a small primarily undergraduate university. Significant pre- to post-semester declines were observed in each of five measured motivational factors (Intrinsic motivation, Career motivation, Self determination, Self-efficacy, and Grade motivation), with effect sizes ranging from 0.21 to 0.41. However, in the second semester pre-survey, four motivational factors rebounded, including three returning to initial levels, suggesting that the observed motivational decline is not long-lasting. Analysis suggests that declines are not related to survey fatigue or student demographics, but rather to grades and, in the case of one motivational factor, to academic field. These findings suggest that a refocus on grading practices across STEM fields may influence student motivation and persistence in STEM.
Relevance for Complex Systems Knowledge
- The study is carried out to study the motivation of students in STEM education, more specifically in the discipline of science, and the type of integration carried out is interdisciplinary.
- The study methodology is an intervention where the degree of motivation of the students is carried out at the beginning and at the end of the semester.
- The evaluation was carried out by means of a scientific motivation questionnaire.
- The study results suggest that the decrease in motivation is not a matter of the area but rather is related to academic aspects and therefore it is suggested that academic practices go more towards the field of STEM education because it influences the motivation of the students.

This article does not focus on students' difficulties, gender inequality or curricular economics; it is a study of students' motivation towards science in general.
Point of Strength
How to increase the motivation of university students in scientific subjects with the STEM education approach.
Motivation, Higher neducation. Assessment, STEM
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

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