Motivation, Self-Regulated Learning Efficacy, and Academic Achievement among International and Domestic Students at an Urban Community College: A Comparison

Article excerpt

This study is designed to examine how intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, and self-regulated learning efficacy influence academic achievement of international and domestic community college students. Results show that for both international and domestic students, motivation did not directly affect academic achievement. Self-regulated learning efficacy affected academic achievement directly only for international students. Several path models were constructed to assess the direct and indirect relationships among variables. It was found that for international students, both forms of motivation indirectly affected academic achievement through the mediating influence of efficacy for self-regulated learning. However, this path model did not sustain for domestic students. Implications of the findings for community college administration were discussed.


Much of the literature on academic achievement among community college students has focused primarily on domestic students. This is only proper because domestic students comprised 94% of all community college students in the United States while students who were not U.S. citizens consisted of 6% of the student body (American Association of Community Colleges, 2011). As community colleges are seeking international partnerships and experiencing a record growth of international students, it becomes more important than before to examine the learning experiences of international students at community colleges, in comparison to domestic students. As a result, our intention is to compare international and domestic community college students' academic achievement from the perspective of self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, and extrinsic motivation, as these are the three areas least reported on in the community college literature.

One area of scarcity in community college literature is an examination of student achievements and behaviors from a social cognitive perspective. Over the past few decades, scholars who took a social cognitive approach to student accomplishments have generated a substantial amount of literature in settings other than community colleges, such as at four-year colleges, in professional programs, or in primary and secondary education. However, research on the link between self-efficacy and academic achievement among community college students is limited. A social cognitive perspective on human behaviors examines a person's inner strength or confidence in carrying out a particular task. This approach was best explained by Bandura's concept of self-efficacy. According to Bandura (2008, 1986), humans are self-organizing, self-reflecting, and self-regulating beings and that one's behaviors are determined by that individual's environment and inner drives. Among the limited literature on the social cognitive aspects of community college students, Silver, Smith, and Greene (2001) found that community college students who reported higher grades had substantially higher levels of study skills self-efficacy.

Another theoretical aspect that has escaped community college literature is motivation or self-determination theory, which also has generated significant findings in four-year college education, professional education, primary and secondary education, as well as in the field of health and wellness. Research based on self-determination theory was designed to examine the different behavioral outcomes generated by intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. According to Deci and Ryan (1985), intrinsic motivation is related to personal and internal factors, such as interests and gratification, and extrinsic motivation is related to external factors, such as rewards, punishments, and social pressure. In a study on underprepared community college students, Grimes and David (1999) found that underprepared students exhibited a greater external locus of control than college-prepared students. Santos (2004) further found that among Hispanic community college students, intrinsic motivator was ranked higher than extrinsic motivator. …