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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Investigating student motivation throughout the school year Lee, Jonathan


The purpose of this study was to examine the interrelationship between internal, external, and temporal influences of student academic motivation, and to identify strategies that teachers and curriculum developers can implement to improve student motivation. In this study, motivation was conceptualized using a Positive Youth Development (PYD) framework in addition to components of Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory. These theories recommend the use of a holistic approach to examine motivation, and to take into account both the internal and external influences of a youth’s development. PYD also emphasizes the need to surround youth with supportive external influences to promote positive development during adolescence. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with eight Grade 11 students at three different phases (October, January, and May) during the 2015-2016 school year. Several key internal, external, and temporal themes emerged from the participant interviews: i) Teachers greatly influenced student interest and enjoyment of a subject; ii) Participant motivation and academic goals were influenced by the attitudes and values of their peers and family; iii) As the year progressed, participant motivation generally decreased; iv) Excluding January, participants often had low motivation during winter months; v) An extended break was linked to increases in participant motivation; vi) Tests and assessments may increase student motivation. Findings illustrated the interconnected and dynamic relationship between the environment and internal aspects of student motivation, and also suggested that various educational strategies and teacher behaviours may improve student motivation.

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