Is There a Difference between Agriculture/Natural Resources and Non-Agriculture/Natural Resources Majors' Motivation Sources?1

By Barbuto, John E., Jr.; Fritz, Susan M. et al. | NACTA Journal, September 2004 | Go to article overview

Is There a Difference between Agriculture/Natural Resources and Non-Agriculture/Natural Resources Majors' Motivation Sources?1


Barbuto, John E., Jr., Fritz, Susan M., Plummer, Brett A., NACTA Journal


Abstract

This paper presents a unifying theory of motivation that integrates the major motivational perspectives from the field while testing the differences in student motivation between agriculture/natural resources and non-agriculture/natural resources university majors. The unifying theory features five sources of motivation: intrinsic process, instrumental, self-concept external, self-concept internal, and goal internalization. The study was based on a sample of 208 undergraduate students. Results indicate that a statistically significant difference exists between agriculture/natural resources and non-agriculture/natural resources majors for self-concept internal and goal internalization motivation. Implications for teaching, recruitment and future research are also discussed.

Introduction

The expectation for university faculty to motivate students has been on the rise over the past thirty years. More today than at other times, faculty are expected to motivate students to engage in the learning process. With this expectation comes a need for greater, more focused research on the phenomenon of student motivation (Wlodkowski and Ginsberg, 1995). Past studies indicate faculties in agricultural sciences and natural resources are faced with a real dilemma of understanding and motivating their students (Millard and Fritz, 1999; Shih and Gamon, 1999). While many agricultural students come from similar backgrounds, there appears to be a difference between the typical agriculture/natural resources student and the typical non-agriculture/natural resources student (Dean and Camp, 1998; Regan and Thompson, 1965; Torres and Cano, 1994). Faculties in the agricultural sciences and natural resources need to consider several aspects in order to meet the motivational needs of their students. First, faculty must become aware of the ways that students can be motivated the sources of motivation. Secondly, faculty must discover how their students' motivations are similar or different from students in other disciplines in order to develop effective student recruitment, retention and teaching strategies. Once motivation source trends are established, the third step for agricultural sciences and natural resources faculty is to motivate their students. This paper examines the concept of motivation, reviewing the historical literature, and providing an integrative taxonomy of sources of motivation. Then an original study is reported that explores the differences in these sources of motivation between agriculture/natural resources and non-agriculture/natural resources majors. Finally, we discuss the teaching and recruitment implications of these findings.

An Integrative Theory of Motivation

Motivation has been examined from many perspectives including psychosocial, expectancy, need-based, intrinsic, social identity, value-based, goal setting, self concept-based, and to some extent, developmental perspectives (Barbuto and Scholl, 1998). Arguments over the merits of each viewpoint have been long and exhaustive in the social sciences literature. The results of such efforts have generally fallen short of providing an integrative framework.

Perhaps the most accepted and applied taxonomy of motivation is the trichotomy developed and operationalized by McClelland (1961; 1985). This theory of motivation emphasized three needs - need for power, need for affiliation, and need for achievement. Despite its general acceptance, the trichotomy and its measures (Thematic Attribute Test) have been widely criticized (Barbuto and Scholl, 1998). Recently, a new typology of motivation sources was proposed by Leonard, Beauvais, and Scholl (1999) and operationalized with scales to measure the taxonomy (Barbuto and Scholl, 1998; see Table 1). This typology was further developed and tested to predict leaders' behaviors (Barbuto and Scholl, 1999; Barbuto, Fritz and Marx, 2000). …

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