The use of motivation theory in engineering education research: a systematic review of literature

Philip R. Brown, Rachel E. McCord, Holly M. Matusovich, Rachel L. Kajfez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Motivation is frequently studied in the context of engineering education. However, the use of the term motivation can be inconsistent, both in how clearly it is defined and in how it is implemented in research designs and practice. This systematic literature review investigates the use of motivation across recent engineering education publications. Results show that the majority of engineering education publications referencing motivation as a concept do not provide a clear definition for the term, nor do they draw upon the existing body of literature surrounding motivation. Within the publications that do draw upon motivation literature, we found that a small number of frameworks were most prominent. We believe that both of these factors potentially inhibit the understanding of motivation in engineering education. Therefore, we provide a number of suggestions for how researchers and practitioners can work to rectify these trends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-205
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 4 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 SEFI.


  • engineering education
  • motivation
  • systematic review


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