Contextual influences on student motivation in the first year of middle school

Year: 2001

Author: Mansfield, Caroline

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper reports research into contextual influences on student motivation during the first year of middle school. An exploratory study conducted in a naturalistic setting, the research used primarily qualitative techniques for data collection and analysis and focused on the cases of seven students through the first year of their middle school experience. Using a goal orientation theory approach, the study set out to investigate how contextual factors influenced the nature of the academic and social goals Year 7 students pursued over the course of an academic year. The research involved weekly observation of a Year 7 classroom, interviews with students and the classroom teacher over the year and administration of a survey. The findings revealed that students pursued a range of social and academic goals over the course of the year and that such goals were significantly influenced by the contextual perceptions they developed and held about the school and classroom contexts in which they operated. This paper discusses the findings and explores implications for teaching and learning.