The present study investigated factors that may contribute to the engagement students undertake in their studies and motivational factors for these. A questionnaire was devised to measure these variables and administered to 89 subjects, 35 men and 55 women with the mean age being 18-25. Results were analysed using SPSS (statistical package for windows) and correlations were investigated between variables. The main findings were that students undertake more private study if they have identified future goals, ones enjoyment of a course is higher if one believes that the level of enjoyment strongly affects how much effort one puts in to studies.There was a slight correlation between age and amount of work put in, resulting in people aged 36-45 undertake more study than do people of 18-25.
This supports previous research conducted in the area of academic motivation, however the body of research needs to be extended to future studies in order to achieve a result that is representative of undergraduate students. What factors contribute to the motivation of students? There are numerous reasons as to why students decide to attend university.Although the main motivator is to obtain a degree, there are various internal and external factors that could also contribute to this decision.
A vast amount of the research conducted in this area of academic motivation concerns finding reasons as to why students continue to pursue their studies. What motivates these students to keep up with the work demands and in turn, how does their motivation affect their level of engagement in their academic studies?Peters, 1958 (cited in HUMAN MOTIVATION) argues that most human behaviour appears to be directed towards specific outcomes, therefore one attends university with the hope of a specific outcome in mind. This argument is supported by the definition of motivation deriving from the Penguin dictionary of Psychology, ” an intervening processor, and an internal state of an organism that impels or drives its actions”. There have been contrasting explanations concerning motivation (Breen and Lindsay); the trait theory suggests that motivation is developed from stable characteristics of the individual.
This suggests that there could be conflicting reasons for being motivated amongst dependent on each person given that it relates to our ‘trait-like’ characteristics. An example of a characteristic is ‘achievement’ motivation. Self-efficacy theory however, argues that individuals participate in behaviours that will increase their feelings of competence. Motivation can be divided into two principles, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation is related to the activity itself and extrinsic motivation is aroused by rewards external to the learning situation, for example money for good examination results.Wilson, 1972 (cited in HUMAN MOTIVATION) has further distinguished motivation in either intrinsic motivation related to the activity itself, for example learning for learning’s sake and intrinsic motivation which feeds on some inner need such as the need to maintain ones self esteem. Reasons for learning have also been separated into two parts, learning to know (which is connected to learning for learning’s sake) and learning to remember (which is learning for an examination). Learning to know is the wish to master and understanding of a subject.Ames, 1992 (cited in Breen and Lindsay) argues that this shows students ‘willingness to engage in the process of learning. ‘ Nenninger, 1987, (cited in Breen and Lindsay) has suggested that interest is the key factor in goal motivation.
Consequently, if a subject is interesting to a student, they will show a higher level of motivation. Studies investigating motivation have shown that under-achieving students are likely to have joined university for extrinsic reasons, for example peer of parent pressure, (Hoplins, Mallwson and Sarnoff 1958 and Wankowski 1969,70,73.Cited in HUMAN MOTIVATION). Wankowski also illustrated that students who were performing well in their studies had clearer ‘goals’ than did those who were not achieving. Thoday, 1957, (cited in HUMAN MOTIVATION) conducted a study and found high correlations between examination results and amount of work completed, which is an expected result. Thoday argues that the simplest way of measuring study habits is to find out the number of hours of private study that the student partakes.
Methods of measuring educational motivation usually take the form of interviews or questionnaires.Designing a questionnaire is a creative process, emerging from brainstorming sessions and adaptions of earlier questionnaires (Oppenheim, 1996). It has been argued that the option of ‘don’t know’ should always be included in a questionnaire in order to avoid forced responses (Coolican 1994). In attitude scales, this would be the number ‘3’, however the problem here is that the results would not show whether this implies that the subject has no opinion on the matter or it could imply that he/she is torn between agreeing and disagreeing.One should never ‘assume’ anything whilst formulating a survey and should avoid using double negatives, such as ‘people should not have dinner’. Another problem presented when researching is that of the ‘social desirability bias’.
Some people claim that they read more than they do. To avoid this, filter questions should be used and it should also be equally possible to select a low prestige answer, as it is to select a high prestige answer. It is also best to avoid questions that may require the subject to admit to foolish behaviour, as people are often reluctant to reveal the truth in these answers.
The questionnaire should follow the principal of parsimony, meaning limiting the effort needed to fill in the questionnaire whilst maintaining efficiency. The response acquiescence set effect (the tendency to agree rather than disagree) should also be avoided by including an unpredictable amount of positive and negative statements. The present study investigates factors involved in motivation, levels of engagement in private study and the relationship between the two.
It also examines the effect of external and internal factors on motivation.