Any kind of growth or personal high school students development requires a very fundamental skill: Learning. Furthermore, learning is how we can progress as human beings and as a society. “About a third of our attributes are innate in our DNA, while the other two-thirds are acquired through learning” (Hanson). This raises the question – what influences learning? Well, scientists have found a very important link between motivation and learning. “Learning depends to a large extent on motivation. No matter what is learnt, the speed and efficiency would depend on motivation” (Learning and Motivation). Although the importance of motivation in learning cannot be overlooked, a scary trend has emerged over the years. There has been a steady decline in the motivation to learn in high school students. But what exactly does that mean?
More and more high school students worldwide are becoming increasingly unmotivated to go to and study for school. This could be due to a myriad of reasons, such as the association of school with negative emotions such as stress, as well as deciding on a future career path that does not require a high level of education. Regardless of the reason, the increasing trend of amotivation among high school students is a dangerous matter – With an increase in the loss of motivation comes a decrease in effective learning. This research will explore the factors causing amotivation of high school students, as well as provide a comprehensive study and reporting on the aforementioned factors. My goal in this paper is to reveal the link between the motivation to learn in high school students, and the main factors that affect it such as a student’s environment, participation in class, grades, and views and impressions.
I have organized this paper into six main sections, two of which have sub-sections. In the first section, I analyze the concept of motivation and its different dimensions. Here, I also discuss how I created research stemming from this definition before moving on to the next sections. The second, third, fourth, and fifth sections address each of the factors I have found to affect students motivation – School Environment, Participation in Class, Views and Impressions, and Grades. I conclude this research with a concluding paragraph to summarize my findings, as well as suggestions and possible solutions to fight the issue – All of which resulted from the analysis of the reasons for amotivation in high school students.
Scholars believe that there are four dimensions related to motivation:
(a) Competence. Competence refers to a student’s belief about their ability to complete a task (CEP, 2012).
(b) Control/Autonomy Control refers to a student’s feeling of being in control and seeing a direct link between their actions and a certain outcome, and autonomy refers to a student being able to choose whether or not to undertake the task and/or how he or she goes about completing the task (CEP, 2012).
(c) Interest/Value. Interest/Value refers to a student’s interest in completing a task and the value they assign to it (CEP, 2012).
(d) Relatedness. Relatedness refers to a student’s belief that completing a task will produce social rewards, such as a sense of belonging to a classroom or other desired social group, or praise from a desired person. Relatedness also refers to the authenticity of classroom assignments, or how a student relates to the assignment. When teachers teach authentic lessons, they teach lessons that enable students to solve real world problems. Solving real world problems impacts student academic motivation, purely because students realize their engagement in the lesson holds the possibility of making an impact outside of the classroom environment. Having an audience beyond the school walls changes the problem from a simple exercise to something more meaningful, more important and more relatable. (CEP, 2012; Educational Research Newsletters and Webinars, 2016)
At least one of these components must be satisfied in order for a student to feel motivated to complete an activity or work toward a goal. The more components that are met, and the stronger they are met, the greater the motivation the student will feel. The interplay of the components listed above, combined with outside factors, all play a role in determining whether or not a student will be motivated and to what degree. (CEP, 2012)
To conduct my study, I extracted specific examples of real-life factors affecting motivation from each dimension. I then created an online survey with questions that tested whether or not these factors affect a student’s motivation to learn. I distributed this survey to high school students at Middle East International School and analyzed the results to come up with four main factors that affect high school students’ motivation.
The environment around a student plays a vital role in motivation. This is due to four different classes of reasons:
(1) Ability beliefs
(2) Effort beliefs
(3) Value placed on the task
(4) Characteristics of the task
Ability Beliefs. Ability Beliefs represent a student’s belief or disbelief in his or her ability to successfully complete a task. In fact, it can be thought of as in the same realm of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If an individual believes he cannot successfully complete a task, it is most likely that failure would indeed become his fate. Poor belief in one’s ability is one of the major components of academic disconnection in high school. When students feel better about their academic abilities, more ambitious challenges are perceived – an idea better known as self-efficacy. On the contrary, when self-efficacy is doubtful, failure is to be expected as an obvious result. A student’s low academic self-concept is a major factor in academic motivation. A healthy home and school environment around a student can increase the student’s ability beliefs and therefore academic motivation.
My survey asked students to determine how much they agreed with the following statement: “I can learn anything with effort.” On average 67% of ninth and tenth graders chose 4 and 5, while the same was true for only 48% of eleventh and twelfth graders.
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