Motivation the Present Study Aims to Establish essay

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The present study aims to establish a relationship between academic motivation and academic self-efficacy. More specifically we will be looking at whether individuals with high academic self-efficacy possess high intrinsic or high extrinsic motivation levels. A sample of approximately 100 undergraduate students will complete the Academic Motivation Scale, which measures their level of academic motivation as well as their type of motivation, and the College Academic Self-Efficacy Scale to measure their level of academic self-efficacy. It is expected that individuals with high levels of academic self-efficacy will also show high levels of intrinsic academic motivation. These findings are significant in that they would give insight as to the reason students strive toward success, which if known could play a role in the increase in college admission and retention, for if it is known what motivates one to perform well academically, it is thus known what to target as far as the promotion of secondary education.

What Drives Success: An Examination of Academic Motivation and Self-Efficacy

In today's society's fast-paced and highly competitive workforce, a college degree has become almost necessary if one expects to get hired, much less get promoted. As such, the importance of having a college education is at an all-time high (Stevens, 2009). It is, therefore, vital that individuals not only possess the desire to continue their education, but also the motivation to see it through and the belief that success is possible. Motivation and belief, or self-efficacy, are two of the most important psychological concepts related to academic outcomes in college students (Mizuno et al., 2011; Elias & Loomis, 2004). That being so, the correlation between these two constructs seems to be an important relationship to explore. The purpose of the present study is to explore this relationship. Particularly, this study aims to discover what form of motivation is most closely related to academic self-efficacy. It is hypothesized that intrinsic academic motivation will be more positively correlated with academic self-efficacy than extrinsic motivation. Thus, the goal of this research is to provide support for the academic benefits of intrinsic motivation, which if proven, could offer insight into things such as college retention, as well as provide a targeted area of growth for those working to promote higher education and retention.

Intrinsic Academic Motivation

Motivation can be viewed as the driving force behind human behavior. It is also situation-specific, in that one may be highly motivated in one area of their life, but not in another. For the purposes of this study, the focus will be placed on academic motivation, or motivation within an academic setting. The self-determination theory posed by Deci and Ryan (1985), states that motivation behind a particular behavior is controlled by either internal or external dynamics. Behavior that is internally motivated (self-determined), or intrinsic, is carried out for the sake of the act itself. Meaning that one simply finds enjoyment from participation in the activity (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Behaviors that are externally motivated, or extrinsic, are engaged in as a means to some sort of end, in that it is done in order to reap some type of benefit. Studies have shown that intrinsic motivation leads to more positive educational outcomes than does extrinsic motivation (Ryan & Deci, 2000).

As previously stated, intrinsic motivation (IM) refers to doing something because the act itself is fundamentally enjoyable to the individual. This form of motivation can be further broken down into three different types: IM-to-know, IM-to accomplish things, and IM-to experience stimulation. IM-to know has to do with the performing of an activity for the satisfaction one feels while experiencing it. IM-to accomplish things can be described as the engaging in an activity for the joy felt when accomplishing something. Finally, IM-to experience stimulation involves participation in an activity for the sake of experiencing stimulating sensations.

Academic Self-Efficacy

According to the social-cognitive perspective (Bandura, 1997), self-efficacy is the individual's views of his or her ability to effectively perform in a specific situation. Bandura's (1991) social-cognitive theory states that an individuals' level of self-efficacy has many effects on one's daily life, including ambitions, choices, level of effort, and overall affect. As such, opinions of self-efficacy have as affect on behavior, cognitions, emotions, and motivation (Carway et al. 2003).

Academically speaking, a student's self-efficacy affects their academic motivation, overall interest, handling of stressors, cognitive growth, and success (Zimmerman 1995; Bandura 1997). Several studies have shown that perceived self-efficacy is a powerful arbitrator of individual ability, as well as beliefs on ensuing functioning and achievement (Zimmerman 1995; Bandura 1997).



Participants for this study will include undergraduate psychology students from a regional northeastern university. Participation will be voluntary, and the students will be compensated with class credit. Participation will include face-to-face completion of informed consent, demographic information, and two measures. In order to ensure sufficient power, a sample size of at least 100 participants will be needed for this study. All aspects of data collection will be in accordance with IRB and APA guidelines as well as with the university's Department of Psychology Research Policy.


The researcher will begin by obtaining permission from instructors for the recruitment of participants. Actual recruitment will take place in the classrooms. The researcher will introduce the study as a research project about intrinsic academic motivation and its correlation with academic self-efficacy. Students will be informed that class credit is being offered as compensation for participation, and they will also be made aware of when and where the study is going to be available. At the specified time and place, individuals willing to participate in the study will be first asked to read an informed consent. This will include a brief description of the purpose of the research and what will be required as part of their participation, including risks and benefits. The informed consent will also assure them that all information will remain strictly confidential, and will remind them of their right to withdraw from the study at any time. Students who wish to continue will then be asked to sign the informed consent and fill out a short participant sheet which will serve as a temporary record of participation so that instructors can be notified and class credit can be appropriately awarded, after which time the participation sheets will be shredded. Both the informed consents and the participation sheets will be taken up and stored separately to guarantee anonymity.

Once the informed consents have been signed and collected, administration of the study can begin. The participants will be given a survey packet containing a demographic questionnaire and two instruments, which measure academic motivation and self-efficacy. Students will individually complete all materials in the classroom and return them to researcher once they are done. The participants will then be given debriefing information that will consist of the basic information included in the informed consents, as well as contact information for university resources available to anyone who may have any questions or concerns. Participation in this study should take approximately 45 minutes. Finally, to assure confidentiality, all data collected will be stored separately in the psychology department in the locked office of the researcher's supervisor for five years.


Academic Motivation Scale. The Academic Motivation Scale (AMS; Vallerand et al., 1992) is a 28-item self-report questionnaire which measures an individual's motivation toward education. The scale is made up of seven subscales of four items each assessing the three types of intrinsic motivation, as well as three types of extrinsic motivation, and amotivation. Items are arranged on a 3-point Likert scale, with 1 denoting an amotive response, 2 denoting an extrinsic response and 3 denoting an intrinsic response. An example of the type of responses is as follows. One question asked on the scale is, "Why do you go to college?" An amotive response might be, "Honestly, I don't know." An external response might be, " In order to get a more prestigious job later on." Finally, and intrinsic response may be, "For the pleasure I experience while surpassing myself in my studies." However, for the purposes of this study, only the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation scores will be used.

Based on a sample of 489 adult subjects, reliability of the 28-item AMS scale is adequate (? = .81). Additionally, the AMS has been found to have construct validity as evidenced by significant correlations with other, conceptually-related variables.

College Academic Self-Efficacy Scale. The College Academic Self-Efficacy Scale (CASES; Owen & Fromen, 1988) is a 33-item self-report measure designed to measure academic self-efficacy in college students. Items on the CASES are rated on a 5-point Likert scale from A (very little) to E (quite a lot). Subjects are asked to rate each item based on "How much confidence do you have about performing each behavior listed below?"

Based on a sample of 93 subjects, the CASES showed adequate internal consistency reliability, with Cronbach's alpha scores ranging from .90 to .92. Also, the CASES was found to have adequate construct validity, as evidenced by correlations with other efficacy-related measures.


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