Special Articles / T. Amirtha Mary, J. Florence Shalini / Scientific Writing and Publishing in Social Work
Motivation is the driving force behind a student’s academic performance. It is good academic performance that helps students achieve a better career. The notion that government school students are carefree in their studies and that the school also doesn’t care about students’ studies has been challenged by the findings of this study. This empirical study reports how the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations in academics of government school students are the catalytic factors in influencing their studies, in spite of the hardships they are facing. The respondents of this study are 12th standard students from low income groups whose ultimate aim is to live a determined life holding high positions in society as doctors, engineers, teachers and pilots.Descriptive narrations are used to analyze the qualitative data. Major findings include that life conditions, teacher’s encouragement, self-efficacy, self-regulated behavior in learning, teaching methodology and success stories are some of the factors influencing their academic motivation.
Key words: motivation; academic performance; intrinsic; extrinsic; catalytic factors.
Motivation – The Catalytic Factor to Success:
Motivation is the key to all achievements in life. It helps to defeat the shortcomings that act as barriers for a successful career. Productive learning of an individual is closely related to his/hermotivation level and research on this subject shows that motivation has a significant and strong impact on academic output (Vallerand&Bissonnette, 1992; Vallerand et al., 1992, 1993; Wolters et al., 2005)(3). In other words, an individual having ahigh level ofmotivation may experience a more successful process in carrying out tasks (preparing for exams, preparing term paper, doing homework) during his/her academic life. So motivation occupies an important place in academic life. Also, motivation provides insight into why the people behave in a particular way. Referred toas internal process, motivation reflects the desire to achieve certain goals.
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations are the two basic classifications of motivation by educational psychologists. Intrinsic motivation is the internal desire to learn new things. It may be due to inherent interests, high self efficacy, and enjoyment or to achieve mastery in a field. It’s well noted that intrinsically motivated students tend to recover from their academic set-backs at the earliest and work for their academic goals. According to Pintrich (2003), extrinsic motivation is defined as the desire to do or achieve something not for the enjoyment but doing certain things in turn for certain results. People refer this type of motivation as not true motivation as this can change at times.
This research aimed to identify the motivational factors of students surrounding their life. When interacting with a group of students (12th standard) who are about to appear for their public exams of a government school, the researcher was keen to find out what is the drive behind the students of 12th standard which keeps them motivated, even after school hours.
Motivated students exhibit confidence
Students feel academically confident when they are motivated. They tend to perform at high standards in their studies. They replicate their conviction towards their studies by overcoming the barriers in life. They are able to plan, organize, and execute their academic arenas confidently and work towards it. It is also identified that students who are confident have high self efficacy and social cognition.
Self efficacy level shows their intrinsic motivation and social cognition shows their extrinsic motivation. Academic motivation can create confidence in one’s ability, along with an increased value of education and desire to learn (Deci, Vallerand, Pelletier, & Ryan, 1991) (2).
This is a descriptive studyas it describes the academic motivation of the secondary school students of a government school. The factors that contribute to their motivational behavior have been clearly discussed. The students studying class 12 of a government schoolcomprise the population of the study and students specializing in subjects such as biology, nutrition and economicsare the unit of analysis for studying the academic motivation. Simple random samplingprocedure was adopted in which Lottery method(without replacement) was the technique adopted to draw out the samples. A total of 50 students (25 male and 25 female) were drawn for the study as samples.The researcher used descriptive narration to analyze the data. Diagrammatic representations are also used.
Primary and secondary data were collected to study academic motivation of the students. The major tool used to assemble the primary data is an interview guide. This guide helped the respondents to share the motivating factors which encourage them to succeed in education. The data collected was qualitative and the interview was scheduled during their leisure time with due permission from the school authorities.
3. Major Findings
The respondents acknowledge that their school is the major source of motivation in their studies. Each day consists of 7 hours of teaching and learning. Apart from this, the teachers conduct extra learning classes. The weak students are identified and special attention is given to them. Questions are encouraged from students and teachers are always welcoming and render their help at times of need. The school is ready at any time to share its resources, even during holidays. “Our teachers are more studious than us. They know us personally and encourage our talents and support us during our setbacks” says one of the respondents.
Relevant literature argues that students who are self-regulated learners believe that opportunities to take on challenging tasks, practice their learning, develop a deep understanding of subject matter, and exert effort will give rise to academic success (Perry et al., 2006). Also, these characteristics may help to explain why self-regulated learners usually exhibit a high sense of self-efficacy (Pintrich&Schunk, 2002)(6).Likewise in this study, the respondents consider self-regulation as a concept which these students feel that it has kept them motivated all through their study life. “A highly self regulated behavior is being characterized by self learning having a deep understanding of the subject matter, and I always find ways to change my difficulties in studies into opportunitiesfor my growth. For example I’m little bit nervous about maths. This held me up for a while but later I made up my mind to take-up this challenge feeling that if not me who can? ….”
–Dilip (pseudonym chosen), a student.
Parkerson (2011) says that self-efficacy beliefs can play a powerful role in academic motivation. Self-efficacy beliefs provide the foundation for human motivation, well-being, and personal accomplishment. This is because unless people believe that their actions can produce the outcomes they desire, they have little incentive to act or to persevere in the face of difficulties.When interacting with the students, the researcher was able to identify that these students believe that their best performance in studies will help them to get into their desired fields. They have the thirst to accomplish in their study life despite the challenges which come along their way.This self efficacy behavior is being characterized by the student’s belief that their actionsproducetheirdesire.
An extrinsic motivational factor, the successful stories shared by the teachers and resource persons of various programmes (motivational talk by alumni, educational officers…) are one among the catalytic factor for these students. They consider those talks as enlightening and a sort of encouragement. One of the teachers orients their students with a moral story when he starts his class for the day. “I long to hear the story which my sir starts up for a day, it kindles my thinking for the day and my friends and I used to discuss about it during our leisure time” - Pandian, a student.
From low income families, these students are firm in developing their economic standards. 50% of the students are from socially disadvantaged community(scheduled caste) and say that they are in the forefront in helping their community to reach acceptable standards in the society. The meager earnings which their parents spend for education, despite other expenses, motivate them to study well and earn more.Two students are parentless and are being raised by their grandparents. They study well and acknowledge that “Though I’m parentless my grand mom’s sufferings in helping me to study well had kept me serious throughout my studies. She is my source of motivation and her ways and advice had always helped me to strike the goal of success.”- Aravind, a student.
The above model portrayswhen and how a student engages oneself in a learning activity. This has been concluded after interviewing the respondents. Being ageneralist model in nature, this explains the idea of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in students. A student engages in a learning activity unless he finds it interesting. If the activity is interesting, it could be either intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. But, if the activity is not interesting, the students makes it a point to decide whether to involve on two factors- based on the inspiration received [(i.e.,)teacher’s methodology, success stories, relevant to today’s trend, peer group involvement] or based on personal choices [i.e., family situation to study well, teacher’s encouragement, self regulated behavior in learning and self-efficacy].
Hence, the researcher wants to record in this study that though these students are from low income families, void of advanced learning methods, the motivational force has helped them to accomplish. The government school and the teachers who are in the forefront in motivating the students are to be recognized. Thus, it has been understood that secondary students of a government school are academically motivated either intrinsically or extrinsically. They take up their studies seriously as to win over their difficult circumstances in life.
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