Date of Award

Summer 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Nathan Mentzer

Committee Chair

Nathan Mentzer

Committee Member 1

Jenny Daugherty

Committee Member 2

Todd Kelley


There is a current push for STEM education within the U.S.; however current studies show that students' interest to pursue STEM fields is decreasing as they progress through high school. This lose in interest has shown to have a strong tie to students' perceived levels of motivation towards the subject. The question that this studied set out to answer was if user centered design (UCD) would affect students perceived level of motivation. For this study a treatment of UCD was compared to a traditional high school engineering design curriculum, with the goal to identify if UCD would have a positive effect on the students perceived level of motivation. 59 9th grade high school students from an urban Midwestern city were selected to participate. Students were given a pre and posttest to determine their levels of motivation before and after the comparison or treatment. Analysis showed that students perceived level of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation significantly went up in the treatment group. The study concluded that due to the ease of implementation and low cost of deployment that UCD should be introduced into high school design challenges that focus on developing a solution for an external stakeholder.