Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Academic Motivation in Post-Secondary Students: Effects of Career Outcome Expectations and Type of Aspiration

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Academic Motivation in Post-Secondary Students: Effects of Career Outcome Expectations and Type of Aspiration

Article excerpt


Using a social cognitive theory framework, we examined the effects of career outcome expectations (COE) and aspiration to enter a science, technology, or math (STM) career on postsecondary academic motivation. Data were collected online from a sample of 380 postsecondary students in Canada and the United States. Analysis of covariance revealed that, compared to other post-secondary students, those with high COE and STM to be more intrinsically and extrinsically motivated in terms of their academics. Overall, the results suggested that expanding students' expectations of a successful career outcome and promoting interest in STM occupations may benefit their academic motivation. Limitations and implications are discussed.

Keywords: Post-secondary education; academic motivation; career development; occupational aspirations


A partir d'une theorie sociocognitive, nous avons etudie les effets de l'esperance de resultats de carriere (ERC) et de l'aspiration a une carriere en science, technologie ou mathematique (STM) sur la motivation scolaire postsecondaire. Les donnees ont ete collectees en ligne a partir d'un echantillon de 380 etudiants de niveau postsecondaire au Canada et aux Etats- Unis. Des analyses de covariance ont revele que, comparativement aux autres etudiants de niveau postsecondaire, ceux qui avaient un niveau eleve d'ERC et de STM etaient plus motives intrinsequement et extrinsequement par leur cheminement academique. Dans l'ensemble, les resultats suggerent qu'une augmentation des attentes au regard d'une carriere satisfaisante et qu'une promotion des STM pourraient etre benefiques a la motivation scolaire. Des limites et implications sont presentees.


Participation in post-secondary education in Canada has increased over the past two decades, to the point where obtaining some form of advanced education is becoming the norm for many Canadians (Knighton, Hujaleh, Iacampo & Werkneh, 2009). For example, Andres and Adamuti-Trache (2008) found that 86% of their large sample of British Columbia youth had obtained some form of post-secondary credential (community college diploma, bachelor's degree, professional degree) within 15 years after high school. The pursuit of higher education has been promoted by parents and the federal government, at least in part in response to the expectation that Canada is transforming from a resource-based to a knowledge- based economy, in which most future occupations will require some kind of post-secondary credential (Anisef & Sweet, 2005; Human Resources Development Canada, 2002).

Unfortunately, the high post-secondary participation rate and promotion of postsecondary education as the optimal way for students to realize more beneficial employment outcomes may contribute to the large variation in academic motivation levels that has been observed in Canadian university and community college populations (Faye & Sharpe, 2008; Mills & Blankstein, 2000; Vallerand & Bissonnette, 1992). The consequences of having low academic motivation have been well documented, and include lowered academic performance (Fortier, Callerand, & Guay, 1995), difficulties with psychological adjustment (Miquelon, Vallerand, Grouzet, & Cardinal, 2005), and, for non-intrinsic forms of motivation at least, increased procrastination regarding schoolwork (Senecal, Koestner, & Vallerand, 1995).

One potential way to assist students experiencing difficulties with their motivation levels is for post-secondary counsellors, academic advisors, and educators to more strongly explicate the links between students' courses and their later life goals. Supporting this possibility, Peetz, Wilson, and Strahan (2009) recently found that first-year undergraduate students who were induced to think about graduation and their possible selves upon degree completion as being closer to their present state reported higher academic motivation than those who were induced to think about graduation as more distant. …

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