Systematic research on student motivation in the sciences and engineering is lacking. Future DBER studies might build on the extensive literature on motivation, especially expectancy and value orientation in cognitive science and in the broader higher education literature (e.g., Ambrose et al., 2010; Svinicki, 2004).
Research on a range of teaching strategies that engage the affective domain (e.g., collaborative study; teaching controversial issues; human impacts of course content) and that have the potential to change student attitudes and beliefs also would be useful (e.g., Middlecamp, 2008). In this realm, the interplay between faculty behavior and students’ affect merits further exploration: Do faculty responses to student reactions influence teaching strategies and, as a result, student learning? Instructors also have attitudes, beliefs, and values about students and how they learn. The complex interaction of these elements influences how and what instructors teach. Thus, the attitudes and beliefs of instructors themselves should be studied to understand their expectations for student learning in science and engineering—perhaps building on work that has already been conducted in physics (Geortzen, Sherr, and Elby, 2009, 2010; Henderson and Dancy, 2007; Henderson et al., 2004, 2007; Yerushalmi et al., 2007).
On a broader level, research on multiple dimensions of the affective domain would enhance the understanding of “what works” in the recruitment and retention of students into science and engineering majors, with longitudinal studies to determine which career paths students ultimately choose (e.g., Connor, 2009). As one example, in light of the larger percentage of undergraduate females majoring in biology compared to the physical sciences, studies that focus on the persistence of females in undergraduate majors and careers in the life sciences would be illuminating.