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SIMS: A tool for increasing student curiosity
Updated: 9/8/2021 10:21 AM by Becky Benishek
Reviewed: 10/14/2022 3:04 PM by Michael Johnson
Use the Situational Motivation Scale (SIMS) tool to measure student interest and self regulation!
The Situational Motivation Scale tool, which is known as SIMS, is a vetted tool which measures student interest and self regulation on specific tasks. Doug Dunston facilitated a "professor-as-the-engineering-student" experience in which University of St. Thomas faculty self-assessed motivation and regulation on an engineering task of their choosing. The experience of assessing motivation, and by extension curiosity, led several engineering faculty to use this tool to assess and increase student intrinsic motivation and self regulation on specific tasks. Assessment of the tool includes a visual representation of motivation and regulation. An umbrella IRB study allowed for faculty to better understand student curiosity and adjust in real time without compromising student anonymity.
Learning Objectives
SIMS is an assessment tool which may be used to assess student motivation and regulation on specific lessons. tasks, etc. This is not a lesson plan with learning objectives.
Instructor Tips
1. Attached find a self-scoring version of the SIMS tool, a handout for faculty to chart and analyze their own SIMS responses, and an overview of the graphical interpretation of results.

2. The University of St. Thomas developed an umbrella IRB study which covers all faculty in the School of Engineering so they may administer the SIMS in their own courses. The instrument is delivered online, and the results are charted using a short script, providing faculty with rapid feedback. Feel free to reach out to the authors to learn more.

3. The following are a few example use cases, along with questions the SIMS evokes. Faculty have administered the SIMS tool:

- After students heard whether they had advanced to the next level in a business plan competition. How might we expect the SIMS results to differ, if the tool were administered after students had submitted their entries, but before they learned whether they were advancing to the next level of the competition?

- In a junior-level electronics course where traditional assignments had been completely replaced with a sequence of design challenges that were critiqued rather than graded. Students initially expressed consternation about the course format, which required them to engage design tasks for which there were multiple possible approaches. How might students’ responses to the motivation questions change over the course of the semester, as they developed their tolerance for ambiguity?

- After a small group, in-class “homework” problem-solving session in a dynamics course, in which the instructor offered just-in-time coaching to the student groups. By this point in their studies, students often have their own homework-completion routines that are part of an outside-of-class culture. Would in-class problem-solving sessions be perceived as made up “busy work,” to be finished as quickly as possible? As opportunities for embracing and following up on curiosity that is catalyzed by the problems, especially with a curiosity-supporting faculty member on hand?
  • Demonstrate constant curiosity about our changing world
  • Identify Opportunity
  • Communicate Societal Benefits
Categories & Tags
  • Campus & Outreach
  • Comprehensive
See Guay, Vallerand and Blanchard's work at https://selfdeterminationtheory.org/SDT/documents/2000_GuayVallerandBlanchard_MO.pdf
The visual representation of motivation and regulation was developed by Jonathan Stolk, Yevgeniya V. Zastavker and Alex Dillon (Olin College) and Michael D. Gross (Wake Forest University).
SIMS tool and charting assessment and overview.
Title Type Ext Date Size Download All Downloads
SIMS.docx Assessment / Rubric .docx 6/27/2018 497.6 KB 35
SIMS charting.pdf Assessment / Rubric .pdf 6/27/2018 118.6 KB 33
Worms overview handout 2016.pdf Assessment / Rubric .pdf 6/27/2018 148.6 KB 39
"Self-Determination Theory and student motivation" (PDF) describes the principal theory underlying SIMS.

The link is to the paper introducing the SIMS instrument, "On the Assessment of Situational Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation: The Situational Motivation Scale (SIMS)."
Title Type Ext Date Size Download All Downloads
Self-Determination Theory and student motivation.pdf Other .pdf 8/16/2018 49.2 KB 31
https://selfdeterminationtheory.org/SDT/documents/2000_GuayVallerandBlanchard_MO.pdf Other 8/16/2018 -