Student motivation and engagement in science: investigating links with achievement, flow, homework completion, and future aspirations.

Year: 2018

Author: Kennett, Roger, Martin, Andrew, Mansour, Marriane, Papworth, Brad, Joel, Pearson

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Inspiring more students into STEM studies and careers is recognised as vital for Australia’s future prosperity (Office of the Chief Scientist, 2012). Pathways to achieving this include boosting student motivation and engagement as well as their level of achievement, subject immersion, , application to assignments and homework, and future aspirations (ref).
While motivation and engagement are seen to be vital to students’ outcomes in science, research in this area has been piecemeal and typically investigated relatively few motivation and engagement factors. Recent responses to this limitation in science-based psycho-educational research have led to the application of multidimensional approaches to assessing motivation and engagement in science  (e.g., Green, Martin, & Marsh, 2007). Following this work, the present study administered a multidimensional motivation and engagement instrument (the Motivation and Engagement Scale - MES; Martin, 2007, 2009) comprising: three adaptive dimensions of motivation (self-efficacy, valuing, mastery orientation), three adaptive dimensions of engagement (planning, task management, persistence), three maladaptive dimensions of motivation (anxiety, failure avoidance, uncertain control), and two maladaptive dimensions of engagement (self-handicapping, disengagement). The study comprised 160 Australian high school students and investigated not only their motivation and engagement in science (using the domain-specific form of the MES) but also their  science achievement (measured using the Progressive Achievement Test - Science), and also their their experience of flow in science, completion of science homework and their perception of the importance of science to their future. Conducting confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) with Mplus, sound psychometrics underlying the central measures were demonstrated.
Based on latent correlations from the CFA, distinct patterns of relationships between MES dimensions and students’ science achievement were identified with 3 of the 11 dimensions (self efficacy, uncertain control and disengagement) particularly notable in mapping significantly to all four science outcomes. These findings provide further validation of the MES in its domain-specific form and also provide substantive and applied insights into how multidimensional science motivation and engagement are linked to science achievement, flow, homework, and aspirations. This nuanced profile of MES dimensions and student achievement will assist practitioners to better target strategies to support students’ outcomes in science, including targeting beliefs and behaviours most significantly correlated with science outcomes. They also provide further information for multidimensional and domain-specific theorizing and measurement of academic motivation and engagement.