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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An investigation of the relationship between some motivational factors and academic achievement Craig, Kenneth Denton

Abstract

This study was an attempt to determine the relationship between the reasons which students ascribe to themselves for attending university and subsequent academic achievement. The study was exploratory and assumed that self-ascribed reasons were tentative indicators of student motivation for achievement. The principal reasons for attending university which students ascribe to themselves and attribute to others were determined by administering a preliminary questionnaire to 133 first year students at the University of British Columbia and then grouping the students’ responses according to similarity. Fifteen representative reasons resulted from this grouping. A paired comparison questionnaire was constructed and administered to I63 first year students of close to median intellectual ability, as measured by the Cooperative School and College Ability Test from the Faculty of Arts and Science. For purposes of analysis, students in the sample were classified into subgroups according to: (1) level of academic achievement; and (2) sex. Average rank orders of the principal reasons were derived for each group. Differences were not found between the average rank orders of subgroups representing different levels of achievement, nor were differences found between males and females, thus indicating that variations in self-ascribed reasons did not significantly differentiate levels of academic achievement. A further individual analysis of each principal reason: indicated that one of the reasons was related to differences in academic achievement. Relationships were not found between the other fourteen principal reasons and academic performance. Attending university because the student requires it for his preferred profession was considered to be a more important factor in influencing decisions to attend university by the superior students than by the under-achieving students. It was suggested that this relationship may be due to several factors. Students considering this reason to be an influential factor in determining a decision to attend university may be expressing a seriousness of orientation with respect to life purpose, a clarity of perceived purpose, a generalized need for status or motivation towards long range goals whereas other students are oriented towards short range goals. Failure to find more significant relationships between academic achievement and reasons for attending university was attributed largely to an inability to determine the underlying motivation for the decision to attend using the present techniques and to indications that students' responses to the paired comparison questionnaire were based largely upon some cultural stereotype of social desirability.

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