Effects of Direct Academic Motivation-Enhancing Intervention Programs: A Meta-Analysis

Article excerpt

Abstract

A meta-analysis was conducted to determine the effectiveness of direct academic motivation enhancement interventions (interventions with students as the primary beneficiaries). Seventeen studies were included, the total sample size being 3720 (91.85% of the participants in the studies were university/college students). The overall weighted effect size (Cohen's d) for all studies was 0.33 (95% confidence interval = [0.26, 0.40]), a significant, but small to moderate effect. Interventions were coded as achievement motivation training program or attributional retraining. Analyses based on these subgroups suggested that intervention type played a moderating role, with achievement motivation training programs producing larger effects. The examination of outcome variables as moderators did not reveal significant variations in effect size, although the effects were largest for motivation measures.

Keywords: academic motivation, meta-analysis, intervention program

Introduction

Considering that in the 21st century, formal education has become an essential prerequisite of professional progress, thus indirectly influencing social status and standard of living, it is vital to identify the psychological factors which determine academic achievement. Recent research conducted in this field emphasizes the importance of different motivational constructs (e.g., Bruinsma, 2004; Johnson, Johnson, & Tauer, 1979; Moenikia & Babelan, 2010; Zimmerman, Bandura, & Martinez-Pons, 1992). For example, Steinmayr and Spinath (2008) conclude that some of these constructs contribute to the variance of academic achievement above and beyond intelligence. It is all the more worrisome that, according to recent findings, academic motivation seems to decline gradually along the academic career (e.g., Martin, 2009).

Haynes, Perry, Stupinsky and colleagues (2009), summarizing the data related to the mentioned problem, note some alarming facts concerning college enrollment and graduation. For example, they mention that students from the US are taking longer time to graduate, or drop out from university, only 8% of German students with ages between 18 and 21 enroll in university and 30% drop out before obtaining a degree, most of them during their first year, and that studies from Austria, France and the Netherlands show the same pattern of academic failure and withdrawal. As a possible explanation, the mentioned authors make reference to Perry's work, according to which the novel, unfamiliar learning environment in the first year of college may negatively influence achievement motivation, aspirations and persistence. Examples of such novel circumstances are: increased pressure to excel, more frequent failures, unfamiliar learning tasks, critical decisions regarding career and new social networks.

Thus, the need for elaborating effective academic motivation enhancement programs is indisputable. However, this endeavor is a rather difficult one, considering the proliferation of motivation terms used in the study of academic achievement and development (Murphy & Alexander, 2000). Academic motivation and academic motivation enhancement

Academic motivation has been defined in various ways, for example as learning and development taking place in academic settings (Murphy & Alexander, 2000), or "a student's willingness, need, desire and compulsion to participate in, and be successful in the learning process" (Moenikia & Babelan, 2010, p. 1538). As emphasized by several researchers in the field (e.g., de la Fuente, 2004; Murphy & Alexander, 2000) numerous terms are being used and several constructs investigated, without consensus regarding the main components of academic motivation.

In recent years, there have been attempts to identify and summarize the motivation constructs relevant to academic achievement (Martin, 2008; Murphy & Alexander, 2000; Pintrich, 2003,). Summarizing the conclusions of these reviews, it appears that academic motivation and engagement can be characterized by 11 constructs:

- goals (Martin, 2008; Murphy & Alexander, 2000; Pintrich, 2003;)

- intrinsic/extrinsic motivation (Murphy & Alexander, 2000; Pintrich, 2003)

- interest (Murphy & Alexander, 2000; Pintrich, 2003)

- self-efficacy (Martin, 2008; Murphy & Alexander, 2000; Pintrich, 2003)

- agency/control beliefs (Martin, 2008; Murphy & Alexander, 2000; Pintrich, 2003;)

- attributions (Martin, 2008; Murphy & Alexander, 2000; Pintrich, 2003)

- perceptions of competence (Murphy & Alexander, 2000; Pintrich, 2003)

- valuing (Martin, 2008; Pintrich, 2003)

- need achievement and self-worth (reflected in the failure avoidance, anxiety, self-handicapping and disengagement dimensions; Martin, 2008)

- self-regulation (reflected in the planning, task management, persistence dimensions; Martin, 2008)

Many of these constructs (for example, goals) have been defined and classified in different ways by a number of approaches, the resulting differences raising further issues. …