Influences of Mechatronics on Student Engagement in Fundamental Engineering Courses: A Systematic Review

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Haughery, John
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Raman, D. Raj
Morrill Professor
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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In our review we examined the primary and secondary influences of mechatronic experiences on student engagement in fundamental engineering courses. Using a systematic review methodology, we collected 402 articles with publication dates ranging from 1990–2014. Screening on title and abstract information reduced our included sources to 137, from which we mapped six parent and 22 child codes. Appraising 17 of these articles we identified eight high quality studies as the focus of our synthesis, which identified five primary influences (Student Motivation, Self-Efficacy, Course Rigor, Learning Retention, and Gender) and two secondary influences (Accreditation and Ease-of-Implementation). In these influences we found evidence that mechatronic experiences can increase student motivation, self-efficacy, and course rigor. Also, positive effects on learning retention, gender diversity, accreditation efforts, and ease of course content implementation were identified. Future research is needed to clarify: (1) if mechatronic experiences truly increase student motivation and self-efficacy more than lecture-based strategies, (2) how the positive short-term impacts of these experiences translate to subjective academic success (i.e., future course and career goals), (3) how implementation logistics are influenced by experience type (i.e., open-ended projects verse contests), class size, institution and industry support, etc., and (4) to what degree the factors of gender, underrepresented student groups, course curricular placement, and activity type influence student engagement.


This article is published as Haughery, John R., and D. Raj Raman. "Influences of Mechatronics on Student Engagement in Fundamental Engineering Courses: A Systematic Review." International Journal of Engineering Education 32, no 5(A): 2134-2150. Posted with permission.

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