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Two main variables, student personality and environmental motivation, were measured and controlled for 43 second year engineering students, in a four week segment of an introductory course in Strength of Materials. The students were assigned to three classes to which three motivational modes were applied. Mental ability was randomized across the three classes. The personality variable was defined according to Harvey's four belief systems, which ranged from concrete system (1) to abstract system (4). Two motivational modes were defined, external (EM) internal (IM) motivation, which were applied in conjunction with programmed instructions (PI) material specially prepared for this study. The results of the study indicated that the more abstract students (system 4) responded significantly to the type of motivational environment employed, and that utilization of the IM mode for the benefit of abstract individuals is beneficial to other students as well, but to a nonsignificant extent. When both abstract and concrete personality characteristics are about equal in a student, the concrete component is dominant in determining his academic behavior. The existence of individuals with such combined personalities may suggest a potentially greater proportion of abstract individuals in the general population than is proposed by Harvey. Marks in this study provided more effective motivation than money. The measurement of belief systems may provide a means of identifying students with a low probability of success in engineering.