C. Witney, W. Wei

RMIT International University (VIETNAM)
Many lecturers cite a lack of motivation on the part of a student as the reason why they are academically unsuccessful. Given that motivation does indeed affect all aspects of student activities and greatly contributes to a student’s success at university, it comes as no surprise that universities would invest time and money into researching and improving student academic motivation.

The theoretical framework of this study is based on a general social-cognitive view of motivation rooted in the work of Albert Bandura and Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) where individuals are viewed as self-organising, proactive, self-reflecting and self-regulating. While much of the initial research on motivation has been derived from Western university students, there is a need, especially with the increase in transnational education, firstly, to consider how motivational processes may differ in students with different learning experiences and cultural backgrounds, and secondly, how this may impact on students’ academic performance.

This is an exploratory piece of research to investigate the motivational orientations in two homogenous groups of students at a transnational university in South East Asia. The primary research question is 1) what underlying variable(s) can explain the difference in motivation between Student Learning Advice Mentors (SLAMs) and Students at Risk (SARs) 2) and how does this affect academic performance?

To measure participants’ motivational orientations, the Motivating Strategies Learning Questionnaire MSLQ (Pintrich et al, 1991) was used, as it has been designed to specifically assess university students’ motivational orientations for a tertiary level course. The sample size was 114 students comprising 33 SLAMs and 81 SARs. For the purpose of this research, the MSLQ has been adapted so it is linguistically appropriate and culturally relevant to students.

An Independent t-test was used to check whether or not the ratings given by the two groups (SLAM’s and SAR’s) on these underlying factors were significantly different from each other. The test showed a significant difference between SLAMs and SARs students in relation to intrinsic goal orientation, task value, control of learning beliefs, and self-efficacy for learning and performance. In relation to test anxiety, the difference is that SARs scored higher than SLAMs. In relation to extrinsic motivation, no significant difference was found between the two groups.

Further interview data will be collected through interviews and focus groups to further validate the quantitative findings and provide more insights on the mutual relationships between participants’ levels and nature of motivation and their academic performances. To be more specific, based on participants’ agreement, this study will invite five students from each group to explore the participants’ perceptions on the findings from the quantitative analysis.