The relationship between tertiary students' motivation to learn and a tertiary subject's characteristics: Perspectives from two complementary approaches

Year: 1994

Author: Archer, Jennifer, Scevak, Jill

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of changes in a subject's characteristics (e.g. resubmission of the major assignment after feedback from lecturers, the right to work co-operatively, choice of assignment topics, and the provision of a booklet for writing good assignments) on first-year tertiary students' motivation to learn.

Approximately 270 students completed a motivation questionnaire assessing perception of mastery and performance achievement climates before changes to the subject (end of Semester 1) and again at the end of the year (end of Semester 2). In addition, a sample of students (60) were interviewed. The questionnaire results showed increasing levels of mastery climate perception, a weaker performance climate perception and increased enjoyment of the subject. The interview findings reflected the mastery orientation and provide a better understanding of how changes to a subject's characteristics may influence students' motivation to learn. Implications for the design of tertiary courses are discussed.