Due to the emphasis on examinations, achievement and academic workload, the financial strain and interpersonal difficulties – in both the academic environment and with significant others – and the constant psychological turmoil experienced during the academic years may lead to a damaging effect on academic motivation.
A multifaceted construct, the self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985) postulates that there are different types of motivation: intrinsic motivation (representing highest degree of self-determination) and extrinsic motivation (external, engagement in activities or goal pursuit as means to meat an end, task oriented) with levels described as:
Identified – activities and/or behaviors that are performed by choice as a result of perceptions of importance to the individual
Introjected – partially internalized behaviors that act as buffers to relive one’s stress, anxiety, maintain self-esteem, self-image, etc.
Amotivation – lack of motivation or intentionality
Pintrich (1991) reported that self-efficacy(Bandura, 1977) – personal beliefs in the abilities to undertake the activity, reasons and /or purposes for engagement, and affective reactions in relation to the activity – is an important motivation variable in academic settings, actings as a buffer for anxiety provoking stressors (Bandura, 1992).
However, the Amotivational Syndrome – determined by the presence of apathy and lack of interest in effortful activity (Schwartz et al., 1987), suggests a link between low conscientiousness and academic motivation.
Cross-sectional studies revealed moderate correlations between global self-esteem and academic motivation (Alsaker, 1989), academic achievement (Alsaker, 1989; Pottebaum, Keith & Ehly, 1986), in attitudes toward academic activities, autonomous motivation resulting in better psychological adjustment (Deci, Vallerand, Pelletier & Ryan, 1991, Deci, Ryan & Williams, 1996; Ryan & Deci, 2001).
So, whether we are academically motivated, physically and psychologically invested in successfully completing higher education has often nothing to do with considering the exorbitant financial investment vs. future rewards, but with deeply rooted personal attributes.
What techniques have you used to stay motivated during academic years? Do you believe universities and their staff should do more to help student stay on course?
Alsaker, F. D. (1989). School achievement, perceived academic competence, and global self-esteem. School Psychology International, 10(2), 147-158.
Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: toward a unifying theory of the behavioural change. Psychological Review, 84, 191-215.
Bandura, A. (1992). Exercise of personal agency through the self-efficacy mechanism. In R. Schwarzer (Ed.). Self-efficacy: Thought control of action (pp. 3-38).Washington: Hemisphere.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determinaton in human behaviour.New York: Pienum.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2001). Extrinsic Rewards and Intrinsic Motivation in Education: Reconsidered Once Again. Review of Educational Research, 71(1), 1-27.
Deci, E. L., Ryan, R. M., Williams, G. C. (1996). Need satisfaction and the self-regulation of learning. Learning and Individual Differences, 8, 165-83.
Deci, E. L., Vallerand, R. J., Pelletier, L. G., & Ryan, R. M. (1991). Motivation and education: The self-determination perspective. The Educational Psychologist, 26, 325-346.
Pintrich, P. R. (1991). Editor’s comments. Educational Psychologist, 26, 199-205.
Pottebaum, S. M., Keith, T. Z. & Ehly, S. W. (1986). Is there a causal relation between self-concept and academic achievement? Journal of Educational research, 79, 140-144.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2001). To be happy or to be self-fulfilled: A review of research on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. In S. Fiske (Ed.), Annual Review of Psychology (Vol. 52; 141?166). Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews/ Inc.
Schwartz, R. H., Hoffman, N. G., & Jones, R. (1987). Behavioural, psychological, and academic correlates of marijuana usage in adolescence: A study of a cohort under treatment. Special Issue: Developmental and behavioural disorders. Clinical Paediatrics, 26(5), 264-270.
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