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Learning in Engineering Education and Technology
A number of key graduate outcomes related to industry-based interventions and work-industry-related activities (WIA's) are specified by the Swedish Higher Education Ordinance for all Engineering Degree Programmes. A paucity of research regarding student perceptions of these WIAs and their role in student's motivation for learning motivates the current study. Understanding student perceptions of WIA is critical to ensuring the effective integration of WIAs into engineering education. This study explores the perceived motivational effects of WIAs with which students engage through the lens of self-determination theory. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nineteen master's students studying in two research-intensive Swedish universities. Six themes emerged from thematic analysis. The themes describe the impact WIAs can have on student motivation in terms of their perceptions of (1) relevance for the development of knowledge and skills, (2) influence on the student's future profession identity, (3) utility for gaining industrial experience, inclusive of research experience, (4) relevance to student's programmes of study, (5) industry marketisation agendas, and (6) alignment with industry needs over the student's own needs. The motivating and demotivating aspects of WIA's based on these themes are discussed to improve the collaboration between industry and academia in engineering education.
This full research paper aims to investigate the nature of industry-related activities engineering students encounter at a Swedish university, as well as the impact these activities have on their motivation to study engineering. Over the last decade, many studies have been conducted concerning university-industry engagement which chart the landscape of activities, educational approaches, and challenges that students face when involved in industry-related activities. Despite the existing close collaboration between Swedish engineering universities and industry, it seems that not only the feedback from the industry to universities is missing, but also students' perceptions of their industry experience and their needs are not taken adequately into consideration by the other two actors. As a consequence, there is a gap among the above three actors preventing the advancement of engineering education in terms of industrial interventions. Furthermore, there is a lack of research about students' perceptions of university-industry engagement activities. This study adopts a qualitative and exploratory research perspective, intending to gain a deep understanding of students' perceptions of industry-related activities which were integrated into their education. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine master's students studying on five-year long engineering programmes in a large research-intensive Swedish university. An inductive thematic analysis was employed, and social cognitive theory was considered as an interpretive tool through which to explore student motivation. The interviews indicated that the students participated actively in various industry-related activities, such as guest lectures, field-trips, internships, summer schools, and masters' theses in collaboration with industry partners which give context to the findings which highlight how industry-related activities can either positively or negatively affect students' motivation for studying and learning in engineering education.