Can students' motivation and engagement change? Findings from two intervention studies

Year: 2005

Author: Martin, Andrew

Type of paper: Refereed paper

The present paper presents findings from two distinct intervention programs designed to enhance students' motivation and engagement. The first intervention revolved around a self-complete workbook program among a sample of 53 Australian high school boys. Using a pre/post, treatment/control group design, it was found that the self-complete workbook intervention brought about significant shifts in motivation and engagement. Relative to the control group, the workbook group made positive motivation shifts on key dimensions including study management, persistence, anxiety, failure avoidance, and uncertain control. Against a large weighted external comparison group, the workbook group also made positive shifts on valuing of school, mastery orientation, planning, study management, persistence, failure avoidance, uncertain control, and self-handicapping. The second intervention involved a different sample of 53 high school boys and girls who participated in a workshop program revolving around motivation and engagement and strategies aimed at enhancing these dimensions. Using a pre/post/follow-up design, data showed that there were gains on key facets of students' motivation and engagement by the end of the program (post-test) - gains that were sustained 6-8 weeks later (follow-up test). When compared to a large weighted external comparison sample, by post-testing and then at follow-up testing, significant declines in motivation had been reversed and any pre-existing advantages or parallel strengths of the workshop sample over the weighted sample were maintained. Key contributing factors underpinning each intervention are discussed as well as the implications the findings have for educational practice.