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Factors Affecting Motivation of Students

Factors Affecting Motivation of  Students

Introduction:

Factors Affecting Motivation of Students explains that Motivation is the desire to continue learning and achieving the best. It is the need to continue conqueringFactors Affecting Motivation of Students the unknown and the little known. A typical student’s desire is to keep progressing and ascending to the highest educational horizons and climbing to the highest rungs of the academic ladder. Kreitner and Kinicki (2010), state that the word motivation derives from the Latin word mover which means ‘to move’. They define motivation as “those psychological processes that cause the arousal, direction, and persistence of voluntary actions that are goal directed”. Kreitner and Kinicki (2010) link motivation to needs. They define needs as ‘physiological or psychological deficiencies that arouse behavior’. They argue that needs can be ‘strong or weak’ and that they are influenced by environmental factors. Accordingly, unmet needs motivate students to satisfy them. The suggestion by Epstein (1994) and Schultheiss (2001) as reported by Pintrich (2003) that ‘individuals do not need to know what they want in order for motives and needs to influence them’ is totally unfounded. In order to succeed in a research methodology module, students need to know the benefits that derive from the module. The need to know the importance of research skills after graduation, the benefits that accrue from the masterly of such skills and the salaries and fringe benefits paid to researchers not to mention the prestige and fame attached to quality research motivate students into investing much more time studying research. The need for achieving something tangible is a catalyst of motivation. In his definition of motivation, Pintrich (2003) agrees with Kreitner and Kinick (2010). He emphasizes the role and impact of ‘self-regulating’ in shaping behavior. The higher the quality of self-regulating behavior, the higher the chances of a student performing better in a research module. Motivation as a key instrument to success needs to be well understood. Though some contemporary researchers such as McInerney and Liem (2008)argue that ‘grades’ are the ‘principal’ drivers of motivation among students in America, there is apparently no practical research that has been conducted to investigate the role played by disciplines such as andragogy, peer collaborative learning and blended learning in motivating university students. Success is driven by motivation. Well-grounded research is important in unpacking the myth surrounding motivation. Crowning and Campbell (2009) seem to be suggesting that gender, attitudes, possessing an external locus of control and culture play a significant role in students ‘motivation.

Motivation amongst students is a dynamic subject. It seems that peer led activities that enhance learning play a crucial role in motivation though it has not been fully investigated. Cassidy (2006) mentions that a program of assessment which incorporates an element of peer assessment is beneficial to learning. He argues that students work harder with the knowledge that they will be assessed by their peers. Peers according to Deutsch (2002) can tremendously play a significant influence towards the attitudes and behaviors of the target peers. But he concedes that there is a dearth of sound research on peer education as a motivator and as a catalyst of behavior change. The relationship between students’ motivation and their academic success in a research methodology module will be the focus of this study.

Learning is a continuous process. Students register for courses at different universities and colleges some solely for academic purposes to see them walk through to success. The academic journey students walk is sometimes precarious. It is full of hurdles and obstructions. This academic journey is like a zigzagged road full of ups, downs, challenges and hardships; these impediments are not new, they are traditional to the academic world. To some, it involves sometimes falling down and picking up the pieces and moving again. The slippery and sometimes rough path the students take there is an invisible urge that keeps propelling the inner concern to keep the fighting alive. Motivation is a reward to those students who have conquered the inner anxiety.

It is a key to success in research and other studies. Motivation contributes significantly to ethical practices in the academic world. Motivation precedes success. Where motivation is a norm, success is the culture. Plagiarism rampant amongst students is itself a symptom of a diseased ethical and moral fabric of students’ academic life, its presence, is a deficiency of motivation and an obstacle to success in research. Though no significant research has been done to pervasively prove the correlation between motivation, plagiarism and success, there is strong anecdotal evidence that ties poor quality motivation to academic cheating. The onset of the dotcom bubble has only added insult to injury. Though the internet is supposedly to be used as the robust driver of research and innovation and therefore uphold motivation high amongst research students, this is not the case. Gulli, Kohler and Patriquin (2007) report that its advent has ‘accelerated the trend’ of cheating and consequently lowering success rates. Low quantity motivation plays a significant role in the ‘cut and paste’ culture prevalent amongst some research students. Motivational science should delve deeper into the phenomenon of student motivation. It should interrogate all the proven and unproven, implicit and explicit theories related to the subject. Theories such as self-efficacy and expectancy-value theory are vital in the investigation of motivation as a social cognitive construct, (Vansteenkiste et al 2009).

Motivation as Vansteenkiste et al (2009) assert should be a powerful tool in assisting research students to achieving optimal results, it must be at ‘higher levels’ and of higher quality. The quality ‘dose’ in motivation, it is suggested, must be equal in measurement to the quantity one for it to be effective and result into success. Poor quality motivation leads to low university grades. What motivates students in classroom is vital towards building a solid motivational culture to propel excellence in learning. The understanding of motivational processes (Pintrich, 2003) amongst students is pivotal to clearly outlining the drivers of motivation amongst classroom students. Pintrich (2003) is of the view that understanding what students want, what motivates them in classroom, how they get what they want, knowing what they want and what motivates them, knowledge of how motivation leads to cognition and cognition to motivation, how motivation changes and develops, and the role of context and culture are core to understanding the science of motivation amongst university students.

What students want unequivocally is the need to succeed, achieve higher grades and get good jobs. This is followed by a need for a higher social status in the community where they live. It should be noted that the need to achieve forms the core objective of any student, but one needs to be cautious as Kreitner and Kinick (2010) warn because setting very high achievement needs can lead to negative outcomes. Though a great deal of research on student motivation has been conducted, most of it focuses on the need to motivate students and on how students should be motivated.

And Most of the researchers delve into methods and the impacts of motivation towards academic excellence, researchers have not focused much on an individual student. The phenomenon of when should a prospective student be motivated has not been clearly addressed. There is a need to focus on the academic journey of a student as an individual, and, clearly investigate when the motivation process should be initiated to assist such a student.

When should the process start that focuses on an individual; should it be before a student enrolls at university, or just after enrolling at university or should motivation be a steady and continuous process until the student graduates with a university degree? Tremendous effort should focus on poor or high quality motivation is it an observable behavior, and if it is, which corrective or remedial actions should be instituted to address it.

Explaining Vroom’s Expectancy theory, Kreitner and Kinicki (2010) state that ‘people are motivated to behave in ways that produce desired combinations of expected outcomes’. Vroom’s research on motivation using the expectancy theory delves into the phenomenon of predicting motivation and behavior when a ‘choice between two or more alternatives must be made’ (Kreitner and Kinicki, 2010). The theory illustrates how much effort a student or an individual should put in a particular task for him or her to succeed. Motivation as a social cognitive construct seen through the expectancy theory is affected by a person’s perceived need and expectations with a view that the higher the effort propelled into the process the higher the chances of getting better and higher quality results and consequently success.

Fugate et al (2004) argue that individuals with internal locus of control always perform better in tasks than those who possess external locus of control. Du Toit, Erasmus and Strydoms (2010) attribute internal motivation to internal locus of control. They argue that an individual gifted with an internal locus of control is well motivated, goal oriented, is an extrovert and enterprising. Such individuals achieve success where as those who are not gifted with such do not. Chowning and Campbell (2009) support this view; they proceed to state that ‘possession of external locus of control, especially with regard to one’s personal experiences, can produce interpersonal derision as well as poor academic outcomes’.

Vansteenkiste et al (2009) confirms that motivation plays a pivotal role in learning outcomes. They argue that students with high quantity motivation perform better than those with poor quality motivation. McInerney, and Liem (2008) reason that social class is a prominent motivator amongst students from the middleclass.

Motivation increases initiation of and persistence in activities. Learners are more likely to begin a task they actually want to do. They are also more likely to continue working at it until they’ve completed it, even if they are occasionally interrupted or frustrated in the process (Larson, 2000; Maehr, 1984; Wigfield, 1994). In general, then, motivation increases students’ time on task, an important factor affecting their learning and achievement (Brophy, 1988; Larson, 2000; Wigfield, 1994). Motivation affects cognitive processes. Motivation affects what learners pay attention to and how effectively they process it (Eccles & Wigfield, 1985; Pintrich & Schunk, 2002; Pugh & Bergin, 2006). For instance, motivated learners often make a concerted effort to truly understand classroom material—to learn it meaningfully—and consider how they might use it in their own lives. Motivation determines which consequences are reinforcing and punishing. The more learners are motivated to achieve academic success, the more they will be proud of an A and upset by a low grade. The more learners want to be accepted and respected by peers, the more they will value membership in the “in” group and be distressed by the ridicule of classmates. To a teenage boy uninterested in athletics, making or not making the school football team is no big deal, but to a teen whose life revolves around football, making or not making the team may be a consequence of monumental importance. Motivation often enhances performance. Because of the other effects just identified—goal-directed behavior, effort and energy, initiation and persistence, cognitive processing, and the impact of consequences—motivation often leads to improved performance. As you might guess, then, students who are most motivated to learn and excel in classroom activities tend to be our highest achievers (A. E. Gottfried, 1990; Schiefele, Krapp, & Winteler, 1992; Walberg & Uguroglu, 1980). Conversely, students who have little interest in academic achievement are at high risk for dropping out before they graduate from high school (Hardré & Reeve, 2003; Hymel et al., 1996; Vallerand, Fortier, & Guay, 1997).

Motivation directs behavior toward particular goals. As social cognitive theorists propose that individuals set goals for themselves and direct their behavior accordingly. Motivation determines the specific goals toward which learners strive (Maehr & Meyer, 1997; Pintrich et al., 1993). Thus, it affects the choices students make—for instance, whether to enroll in physics or studio art, whether to spend an evening completing a challenging homework assignment or playing videogames with friends. Motivation leads to increased effort and energy. Motivation increases the amount of effort and energy that learners expend in activities directly related to their needs and goals (Csikszentmihalyi & Nakamura, 1989; Maehr, 1984; Pintrich et al., 1993). It determines whether they pursue a task enthusiastically and wholeheartedly or apathetically and lackadaisically.

Factors Affecting Motivation of Students – Literature Review:

Educational psychologists have long recognized the importance of motivation for supporting student learning. More recently, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills has identified initiative as one of the life and career skills necessary to prepare students for post-secondary education and the workforce. However, many educators may be unfamiliar with methods for evaluating and encouraging motivation, particularly at the elementary level. The purpose of this literature review is fourfold: (a) to explore the ways in which motivation has been defined by researchers, (b) to investigate how motivation develops, (c) to learn how teachers can encourage development of motivation in their students, and (d) to review best practices in assessing motivation.

Motivation refers to “the reasons underlying behavior” (Guay et al., 2010, p. 712). Paraphrasing Gredler, Broussard and Garrison (2004) broadly define motivation as “the attribute that moves us to do or not to do something” (p. 106). Intrinsic motivation is motivation that is animated by personal enjoyment, interest, or pleasure. As Deci et al. (1999) observe, “intrinsic motivation energizes and sustains activities through the spontaneous satisfactions inherent in effective volitional action. It is manifest in behaviors such as play, exploration, and challenge seeking that people often do for external rewards” (p. 658). Researchers often contrast intrinsic motivation with extrinsic motivation, which is motivation governed by reinforcement contingencies. Traditionally, educators consider intrinsic motivation to be more desirable and to result in better learning outcomes than extrinsic motivation (Deci et al., 1999).

Motivation involves a constellation of beliefs, perceptions, values, interests, and actions that are all closely related. As a result, various approaches to motivation can focus on cognitive behaviors (such as monitoring and strategy use), non-cognitive aspects (such as perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes), or both. For example, Gottfried (1990) defines academic motivation as “enjoyment of school learning characterized by a mastery orientation; curiosity; persistence; task-endogeny; and the learning of challenging, difficult, and novel tasks”. On the other hand, Turner (1995) considers motivation to be synonymous with cognitive engagement, which he defines as “voluntary uses of high-level self-regulated learning strategies, such as paying attention, connection, planning, and monitoring”

According to Stipek (1996), early approaches to the study of motivation were rooted in the literature on extrinsic reinforcement. Within this literature, all behavior, including achievement, was believed to be governed by reinforcement contingencies. Proponents of this approach included B.F. Skinner, who identified different types of reinforces. Positive reinforces, or rewards, are consequences that increase the probability of a given behavior they were made contingent on, whereas negative reinforces are consequences that increase the probability of a given behavior by removing or reducing some negative external stimulus. Punishment, on the other hand, refers to unpleasant consequences that decrease the probability of a given behavior. Under this framework, the teacher’s job is clear: to use good grades and praise to reward desired behavior and bad grades or loss of privileges as punishment. As Stipek notes, this approach is limited to the extent that rewards and punishments are not equally effective for all students, and desired behaviors (such as paying attention) are difficult to reinforce. Moreover, the benefits of extrinsic rewards tend to decay over time (Stipek, 1996).

As Stipek (1996) explains, the limitations of extrinsic reinforcement led to the development of new approaches to motivate people, including cognitive behavior modification (CBM). This approach recognizes that the effects of reward contingencies are mediated by cognitive variables, such as verbal ability. Thus, the goal of CBM is to change overt behavior by manipulating cognitive processes. Under this approach, students take more responsibility for their own learning by monitoring their behavior, setting goals, deploying metacognitive strategies, and administering their own rewards. Giving students such control over their own learning is believed to result in maintenance of learning behaviors over time, the transfer of learning behaviors to new contexts, and more independence in the exercise of such behaviors. There are, however, several disadvantages to this approach, including the fact that in empirical studies, researchers observed children “cheating,” either by setting low performance standards for themselves or rewarding themselves undeservedly (Speidel & Tharp, 1980; Wall, 1983, as cited in Stipek, 1996).

These limitations, coupled with changing perspectives on motivation, ultimately led to yet another transformation of the literature on motivation emerging in the late 1960s and 1970s. This third-wave literature is characterized by the belief that behavior is affected by cognition rather than the consequences of one’s actions (Stipek, 1996). Broussard and Garrison (2004) observe that contemporary motivation research tends to be organized around three questions:

  • Can I do this task?
  • Do I want to do this task and why?
  • What do I have to do to succeed in this task?

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