The Effect of Motivation, Family Environment, and Student Characteristics on Academic Achievement

By Halawah, Ibtesam | Journal of Instructional Psychology, June 2006 | Go to article overview

The Effect of Motivation, Family Environment, and Student Characteristics on Academic Achievement


Halawah, Ibtesam, Journal of Instructional Psychology


This paper is designed to study the effect of motivation, family environment, and student characteristics on academic achievement. The study was conducted on 388 high school students (193 males and 195 females) from Abu Dhabi District, United Arab Emirates (UAE). A Likert-type instrument that consisted of three parts (scales) was used to measure students' level of motivation, parental influences, and students' characteristics, while academic achievement was measured using student's GPA. Calculations were also breakdown by gender to assess differences between male and female students. Students' mean level of motivation was less than the means of parental influence and student's characteristics. No gender differences were observed on the variables measured by the instrument. Correlations between each of motivation, family environment, student characteristics and academic achievement were small and practically not significant. Remarkably high correlation value was observed between motivation and students characteristic. The highest correlation value was observed between family environment and students' characteristics. Results were discussed on the light of other studies' findings and results.

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Intelligence is not the only determinant of academic achievement. High motivation and engagement in learning have consistently been linked to reduced dropout rates and increased levels of student success (Kushman, Sieber, & Harold, 2000). Development of academic intrinsic motivation in students is an important goal for educators because of its inherent important for future motivation as well as for student's effective school functioning (Gottfried, 1990). The few studies that have examined motivation in young children have found that it is a week predictor of achievement (Stipek & Ryan, 1997). The family is the primary social system for children. Rollins and Thomas (1979) found that high parental control were associated with high achievement. Cassidy and Lynn (1991) included a specific factor of the family's socioeconomic status, crowding, as an indicator of how being disadvantaged affects educational attainment. They found that a less physically crowded environment, along with motivation and parental support, were associated with higher educational levels of children. Religiosity as an aspect of the family environment is another independent variable possibly influencing academic achievement (Bahr, Hawks, & Wang, 1993). Cassidy and Lynn (1991) explored how family environment impacts motivation and achievement. This means that motivation served as a mediating variable between home background, personal characteristics, and educational attainment.

Higher-achieving students are likely to have the following characteristics: positive feelings about their school experiences; attribute their success in high school to such things as hard work, self-discipline, organization, ability, and high motivation; tend to watch relatively little television during the school week; tend to associate with students who also were successful in school; and avid readers (WEAC, 2005).

This paper is designed to study the effect of motivation, family environment, and student characteristics on academic achievement. Research in this area should increase the awareness to concentrate on student's motivation in an effort to increase effective school functioning in the later years and eventually improve our educational stature.

Review of the Literature

Early motivational theorists in psychology attempted to explain motivation in many different settings and for many kinds of behaviors (Weiner, 1990). Motivation is referred to as multidimensional: it measures impulsive and deliberate action, is concerned with the internal and external factors, and observes causes for behavior. Harter (1983) proposed a model of mastery or effectance motivation, describing the effects of both success and failure experiences on mastery motivation. …

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