Daniella Joy Pautz
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States
Graduation date: Spring 2023
MORE | Spring 2023
The Impact of Persuasion Methods on Student Performance and Mental Health in University Setting
With engineering being one of the most difficult and stressful majors, professors need new techniques to keep students motivated, successful, and mentally well. One method that may be useful in teaching is the use of persuasion techniques. There are six persuasion techniques included in the study: reciprocity, coercive authority, expert authority, commitment, liking, and social proof. These are used to build relationships, increase motivation, and manage decisions during uncertainty. The aim of this study is to examine the relationship between the use of persuasion techniques in the classroom and the students’ performance and mental health related to the class.
Mentor: Claire Honeycutt
Featured project | Spring 2023
Biomedical engineering graduate student Daniella Pautz is exploring how engineering professors can use persuasion methods to help students succeed in class and improve their mental well-being. Her MORE research with faculty mentor Claire Honeycutt, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, seeks to address the high rates of depression and anxiety among engineering students and help them succeed in this difficult field of study.
What made you want to get involved in MORE and why did you choose the project you’re working on?
I have always had a passion for engineering, but I’ve also always had a passion for teaching and learning. I was talking with my faculty mentor about what I wanted to do for my thesis and mentioned that one day I wanted to teach. She suggested studying teaching methods in engineering education in order to combine my interests. So, we brainstormed and came up with the idea of studying persuasion techniques and how they are used in the classroom.
How will your research project impact the world?
I believe my research can change the way teachers and professors interact with their students across all disciplines. Having a positive relationship with students can enhance their learning and help improve their mental health. With the mental health crisis growing across the world, interventions are necessary, and this can start in the classroom.
Have there been any surprises in your research?
I was surprised to see that teachers who are strict and use rules and punishments in their classes actually have a negative impact on student academic outcomes as well as student mental health. Many strict professors believe that it is their job to teach students how to be obedient (especially at younger ages) and that if they don’t force students to participate, they won’t. It turns out this belief harms students’ outcomes, decreases their engagement, and increases their stress.
What is the best advice you’ve gotten from your faculty mentor?
You have to be very clear about why you are doing your research, what your data actually says and what the implications of your research are. It’s easy to get caught up in your research and analyze everything you can, but at the end of the day you need to have a clear hypothesis and conclusion.
Why should other students get involved in MORE?
This program is an excellent way to gain support for your research. It helps keep your research focused and on track by setting goals and deadlines. It also offers great funding for you and your project so that you can realistically achieve your goals.