Measuring Motivation and Volition of Nursing Students in Nontraditional Learning Environments

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to identify the best fitting model to represent interrelationships between motivation, volition, and academic success for adult nursing students learning in nontraditional environments. Participants (N 5 297) completed a survey that incorporated two measures: the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) and the Academic Volitional Strategies Inventory (AVSI) as well as demographic information. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA), confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), and structural equation modeling (SEM) were used for data analysis. In Phase 1, EFA resulted in factors that generally aligned with previous theoretical factors as defined by the psychometrics used. In Phase 2 of the analysis, CFA validated the use of predefined factor structures. In Phase 3, SEM analysis revealed that motivation has a larger effect on grade point average (GPA; b 5 .28, p , .01) than volition (b 5 .15, p , .05). The covariance between motivation and volition (r 5 .42, p , .01) was also found to be significant. These results suggest that there is a significant relationship among motivation, volition, and academic success for adult learners studying in nontraditional learning environments. These findings are consistent with and elaborate the relationship between motivation and volition with a population and setting underrepresented in the research.

Keywords: volition; motivation; distance education; academic success; factor analysis; structural equation modeling

A better understanding of the relationships among factors contributing to the academic success of adult learners is of interest to a variety of stakeholders. Students, faculty, administrators, regulators, and accrediting bodies all have a vested interest in enhancing the theoretical and empirical knowledgebase underpinning adult higher education. Concerns over equity, standards, and student motivation have spurred researchers to ask what factors influence academic success for adult learners and how these factors can be supported and enhanced (Apple, 1996; Karoly, 1993; Kenny, Kidd, Nankervis, & Connell, 2011). The increasing need for a highly educated workforce has increased interest in understanding how adults become successful, lifelong learners (Ebersole & Patrick, 2011; Maehl, 2000). Understanding factors that influence academic success for adult learners is of immediate importance because adult students make up between 40% and 80% of the students in higher education (Ebersole & Patrick, 2011; Pearson, 2004). Many of these adult students come from groups traditionally underserved by higher education and are underrepresented in disciplines such as nursing.

Although research focusing on academic success and persistence of younger learners studying in classroom environments has been studied extensively, it has not been sufficiently addressed for adult students learning outside of the traditional classroom environment (Ross-Gordon, 2011). Specifically, additional inquiry is needed to understand the relationships among major constructs involved with self-directed learning-also referred to as self-regulated learning (SRL)-and how these constructs interrelate when learning occurs outside of classroom environments (Brockett & Hiemstra, 1991). Motivation and volition have been identified as two major social cognitive constructs highly relevant to SRL, yet current theoretical models are not defined for adult learners.

The purpose of this study is to better understand the nature of motivation and volition for nursing students in nontraditional learning environments (i.e., students earn credits vis-à-vis competency-based assessments and by completing online coursework). More specifically, the present study will identify the best fitting model to represent the interrelationships between motivation, volition, and academic success for these students. The objectives of the study are to

* examine the validity of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) and the Academic Volitional Strategies Inventory (AVSI) for adult students in a nontraditional learning environment and

* identify the relationships among motivation, volition, and academic success for adult students studying outside of traditional classroom environments. …