College Student Motivation: An Interdisciplinary Approach to an Integrated Learning Systems Model

By Debnath, Sukumar C. | Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management, May 2005 | Go to article overview

College Student Motivation: An Interdisciplinary Approach to an Integrated Learning Systems Model


Debnath, Sukumar C., Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management


ABSTRACT

Based on an interdisciplinary approach and a learning systems perspective couched in a broad motivational framework, an integrated model of student academic achievement motivation is presented. The model shows the classroom environment is influenced by macro-environmental factors, and is specifically determined by the teacher and five structural factors which, in turn, influences students' achievement goal(s) choice, volition, and intrinsic outcomes. Students' volition-moderated by their individual characteristics, expectancies, and outcomes' valence-leads to outcomes through goal achievements, with outcomes consequently influencing students' attributional patterns. Discussions indicate utility of the model in understanding, analyzing, managing, and enhancing student motivation in classrooms.

Introduction

Student motivation in college classrooms is a common and persistent problem (Pintrich, 1994) and poses a dynamic challenge for educators. While the motivational levels of students are a concern among the teachers, researchers, and educational administrators, creating an appropriate classroom environment that motivates students in higher education to learn (Hancock, 2002) and enhancing their academic performance (Hidi & Harackiewicz, 2000) both remain as the most important but unresolved goals for them. Numerous studies (e.g., Ames & Archer, 1988; Elliot & Church, 1997; Harackiewicz, Barron, & Elliot, 1998) have investigated these motivational issues; however, field studies in academic achievement-related behavior have generally lacked the guidance of a broad and integrative theoretical orientation and involved a piecemeal approach (Archer & Schevak, 1998; Eccles, 1983). Researchers (e.g., Eccles, 1983; Mitchell, 1997) have called for the development of a truly integrative framework of motivation by incorporating study findings related to various motivational theories (e.g., goal theory, self-efficacy, outcomes, individual differences, and job design), because (a) in achievement settings, a combination of these related variables would predict human behavior and its affective states better (Schunk, 1989), and (b) such a framework is a better representation of reality than are its more circumscribed component theories (Ford, 1992).

Next, many years of psychological and educational research provide complementary perspectives because the educational literature guides us in identifying the actual classroom practices by teachers (e.g., guidance, provision of choice, reinforcement, confidence building) that influence students' attitudes and beliefs, and the psychological literature (e.g., attributions, self-efficacy, perceived ability, competence, intrinsic motivation, goal orientations) explains how these beliefs influence students' motivation (Skinner and Belmont, 1993). Given this complementary perspective, I seek to explore the insights offered by the educational, psychological, and management (which has a wealth of literature on motivation) literature relevant to student motivation, and combine the insights to develop an integrative model of student motivation. The model thus generated may better address the concerns of the motivation theorists for an integrated framework. In developing the proposed model, a learning system perspective has been used, whereby the four system variables (process, content, teacher, and student) are couched within the complementary framework offered by major motivation theories representing the content, process, intrinsic, and extrinsic perspectives. The model captures the major structural determinants of classroom environment based on the student achievement motivation theories and the job characteristics model. In addition, it utilizes the principles of goal theory, expectancy theory, and attribution theory to show how these structural elements may influence student motivation, volition, and various other outcomes. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to present a student academic motivation model by integrating relevant theories and research findings from multiple disciplines-education, management, and psychology. …

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