Date of Award

Spring 4-18-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Robyne Elder

Second Advisor

Dr. Frank Giuseffi

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert Steffes


This study investigated the relationship between problem-based learning, motivation and engagement (as measured by the Motivational and Attitudinal scale) selfdirectedness, and academic achievement of technical students enrolled in general studies courses at a Midwestern technical college. The intended purpose for the study was to identify if tactile learners, who currently spend 75% of their program in hands on instructional courses, would benefit from the implementation of a PBL model in general studies courses. Career Technical Education prepares students for the workforce. Creating an academic learning platform that mimics technical instruction where students solve real life problems can encourage students to take an active academic role in learning. This study highlighted if the PBL model in general studies courses creates an academic change in learning for technical students. Faculty and student’s perceptions on topics surrounding traditional and PBL were compared and analyzed. Of the 34 technical students who completed the questionnaire, two students participated in interviews. The 12 faculty members who participated in the faculty focus group expressed interest in including the PBL model into current curriculum based on previous classroom observations and the need increase engagement and interest in academic content covered. A comparison analysis based on the t-test highlighted differences in student summative assessments before and after PBL was implemented, however; no differences were concluded from end of course student surveys conducted by the institution before and after PBL was implemented. This study opens with an insight into the characteristics and representation of an adult learner. Additionally, the study aligned innate attributes and characteristics iii displayed by adult learners to self-directedness, engagement and motivation and overall facets of problem-based learning based on research included in the literature review. Throughout the study, the researcher found both the students’ interviews, survey responses, and faculty focus group feedback were helpful and that possible changes were necessary to increase student retention and other barriers technical students encounter when enrolled in general studies courses.


Copyright 2019