Postprint version. Published in Proceedings of the 39th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference: San Antonio, TX, October 18, 2009.
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Students’ development of self-directed and lifelong learning capacities is vital for their success in today’s engineering environment. Instructors play a critical role in influencing outcomes related to self-directed learning (SDL) through their design of courses that support students’ transitions from controlled to autonomous learning behaviors. Yet there is a critical lack of research examining how instructor choices promote self-directed (and eventually lifelong) learning development in undergraduate engineering students. In this work in progress, we introduce a project that explores how instructor choices affect a range of student outcomes related to their development as self-directed and lifelong learners. Drawing on existing research that suggests strong correlations between student autonomy support and outcomes related to SDL, we plan to examine the ways in which engineering instructors assist students in becoming self-directed learners, the role of instructors’ autonomy support on students’ behavioral, motivational, affective responses, and the effect of autonomy on students’ perceptions of learning.