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.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/john-haughery/19/