Optimizing educational approaches for University Photovoltaics education

Katherine G. Nelson, Jenefer Husman, Sarah K. Brem, Christiana Honsberg, Stuart Bowden

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

9 Scopus citations


The demands for increasing matriculation and retention in engineering are exceedingly high. To discover future innovations, the Nation needs many more engineers than it produces. This paper reviews the literature regarding some of the most significant barriers to student recruitment and retention in the physical sciences and engineering, especially with regard to underrepresented groups. Many students traditionally find it hard to be successful in engineering, not because they are not as successful in the key competencies (e.g. mathematics), but because they have not been provided with experiences that will provide the motivation required to complete the degree. The focus of this paper is the need to support students' utility value perceptions, Engineering is typically a rigorous and difficult curriculum for all students, not just those at risk. Therefore, educational tools and interventions are needed that aid in overcoming these challenges and enhance learning of material. We argue that an ideal case for supporting student learning and motivation would be to emphasize Photovoltaics (PV) in physical science and engineering curricula. Specifically, we argue that (a) students' perceived value of learning PV is high given the current climate for the need to develop renewable energy technologies, and (b) PV educators and educational researchers need to work together to optimize the motivational opportunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProgram - 37th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, PVSC 2011
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011
Event37th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, PVSC 2011 - Seattle, WA, United States
Duration: Jun 19 2011Jun 24 2011

Publication series

NameConference Record of the IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference
ISSN (Print)0160-8371


Other37th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference, PVSC 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySeattle, WA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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