Motives for School Learning During Transition from Primary to Secondary School∗

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Gebze Yuksek Teknoloji Enstitsu ]On: 20 December 2014, At: 18:43Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

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    Motives for School LearningDuring Transition from Primary toSecondary SchoolAlexandros Kakavoulis aa University of Crete , GreecePublished online: 07 Jul 2006.

    To cite this article: Alexandros Kakavoulis (1998) Motives for School Learning DuringTransition from Primary to Secondary School , Early Child Development and Care, 145:1,59-66, DOI: 10.1080/0300443981450105

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  • Early Child Development and Care, 1998, Vol. 145, pp. 59-66 1998 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V.Reprints available directly from the publisher Published by license underPhotocopying permitted by license only the Gordon and Breach Publishers imprint.

    Printed in Malaysia.

    Motives for School Learning During Transi-tion from Primary to Secondary School*

    ALEXANDROS KAKAVOULIS

    University of Crete, Greece

    (Received 10 July 1998)

    Key words: Motives, learning, school transition

    INTRODUCTION

    The scientific interest in the study of human motivation has been enforced by theincreased complexity of living in modern societies that made it necessary to cultivatein children and adolescents the will to acquire many varied skills (physical, cognitive,social). In fact, schools are planned for pupils to carry out all kinds of activitieswhich, for many of them, would not have been a significant part of their younglives and which would certainly not have occurred to them spontaneously. A studyof motivation for school learning is, therefore, a crucial matter for the educationsystem to achieve its substantian goals. Without a knowledge of the ways and meansof encouraging children's learning, and of their motives in the widest sense of theword, without being sensitive to their interests, teaching and learning would beineffective.

    Motivation is generally defined as an internal state that arouses, directs andmaintains behaviour (Woolfolk, 1995, p. 330).

    A working definition of motivation would be that it consists ofinternal processes whichspur us on to satisfy some need (Child, 19813, p. 33). Motivational processesdetermine the direction and intensity of goal-directed behaviour. They are expe-rienced by the individual as conscious desires, but they are considerably difficult perhaps impossible to control them directly. They seem to exist apart fromour volition. What does control our motivation is the question that defines thepsychology of motivations (Atkinson et al, 199612, p. 355).

    *A research paper presented at the 6th International Conference on Motivation, AristotleUniversity, Thessaloniki, 27-30 March, 1998.

    59

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  • 60 A. KAKAVOULIS

    The causes of motivation range from physiological events within our brain andbody, at the most microscopic level, to our culture and social interactions with otherindividual who surround us, at the most macroscopic level.

    Theoretical approaches to motivation generally have been concerned with fourbasic questions representing stages in the processes assumed to be present inmotivated behaviour. These are: What initiates action, what direction does suchaction take and why, how strong is the action and why does action terminate? By'action' is meant not only obvious movement, but also mental action: e.g. you cansolve a problem in your head without appearing to do so.

    During this closing century there have been three broad lines of theoreticalapproach to human motivation: instinct theories, drive and need theories and cognitivetheories. The instinct theories claim that human actions, as well as those of the animalsto which humans are related, were the outcome of inborn instincts innate,unlearned tendencies 'which are essential springs or motive power of all thoughtand action'. The instinct theories stress the role of internalfactors in motivation, whilethe drive theories stress the motivational role of external events or objects. Bothinstinct and drive factors operate together in real live motivation and they ofteninteract. It is widely acknowledged that both types of process exist for almost everykind of motivation (Toates, 1986). Drive and need theories suggest that the drives arethe source of motivation, resulting from homeostatic disequilibrium. The drives areclassified as primary and secondary. Primary drives are those immediately necessaryfor bodily survival (e.g. hunger, thirst, sexual behaviour). Secondary (or acquired)drives appear as by-products of the satisfaction of primary needs (e.g. fear, money).Cognitive theories hold the intervention of human thinking as a substantial influenceon our motivation. A person's awareness of what is happening to him or her hasan important effect on future behaviour in similar situations. Perceiving, interpret-ing, selecting, storing and using information from the environment are crucialprocesses which affect our present and future motivation (Child, 19813, pp. 34-41).

    Motivational theories as well as results of empirical studies have sustained schoolteaching and learning to a great extent. Creating conducive classroom learningenvironments, responding to the need for achievement and affiliation amongschool children, success and failure and their causes as sources of motivation, andacademic motivation measures have been great concerns of Educational Psychology.

    Academic Motivation

    The motive for school learning, while having no well established origins in primaryneeds, is nevertheless a useful concept which has some face valiblity in the class-room. Ausubel perceives at least three components in achievement motivation: a.cognitive drive, which is task-oriented in the sense that the enquirer is attempting tosatisfy his need to know and understand, and the reward of discovering newknowledge resides in the carrying out of the task. b. self-enhancement, which is ego-oriented or self-oriented and represents a desire for increased prestige and statusgained by doing well scholastically, and which leads to feelings of adequacy and self-esteem, c. a broader motive of affiliation, which is a dependence on others for approval.

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  • MOTIVES FOR SCHOOL LEARNING 61

    Satisfaction comes from such approval irrespective of the cause, so the individualuses academic success simply as means of recognition by those on whom he or shedepends for assurances (Ausubel & Robinson, 1969).

    There are two general explanations for the source of achievement motivation(Stipek, 1993). Some psychologists see achievement motivation as a stable andunconscious trait something the individual has more or less of. For others theorigins of high achievement motivation are assumed to be in the family and culturalgroup of the child. Children who see that their actions can have an impact on theirenvironment and who are taught how to recognize a good performance are morelikely to grow up with the desire to excel (Lefton, 1994).

    Personality Factors

    School performance is directly related to personality factors which are indices ofthe children's actual behaviour. In an older study by Lavin (1965) a variety ofpersonality traits which have been shown to correlate with school achievement isreported. It summarises these by listing six main personality correlates of highattainment in school or college: social maturity, emotional stability, flexibility inproblem-solving, achievement motivation, achievement linked with conformity andachievement linked with independent thinking.

    Schlesser and Finger (1962) developed a scale which attempts to measure academicmotivation as shown in the class-room situation. It aims to identify non-intellectualcorrelates of school success, such as attitudes, behaviour and self-concepts relevantto the school situation.

    Professor N. Entwistle (1967 and 1968) of the University of Edinburgh, deviseda similar scale, the Academic Motivation Self-rating Inventory, to measure the 'academicmotivation' factor found by Finger and Schlesser (1965). The scale consists of 24items relating to attitudes to school, ambition and study habits. The followingexamples indicate the type of items included.

    Does your mind often wander off the subject during lessons?Is it important to you to do well at school?Do your friends think that you never take work seriously?Do you worry about not doing well in class?

    'Academic motivation' scores were found to be related to teachers' ratings, ofmotivation; rank-order correlations varied between +0.04 and +0.55, with an averageof+0.33. The test-retest reliability coefficient was found to be +0.83 after an intervalof two and a half months. (Entwistle, 1967, 1968).

    More recent studies have focused on the effects of the classroom learning en-vironment on academic motivation (Knight & Waxman, 1990) on the effects of themodels of school learning (Keith & Cool, 1992), on the effects of school belongingand friends' values (Goodenow & Grady, 1993), and on the effects of family rela-tionships and self-esteem (Andrews et al, 1994). A new Academic Motivation Scalehas been developed to measure intrinsic, extrinsic and a motivation in Education(Vallerand et al, 1992).

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  • 62 A. KAKAVOULIS

    THE PRESENT STUDY

    The Aims of the Investigation

    Clearly the motives for school learning are formed by both personal tempera-mental factors as well as environmental social influences. Some of these influencesmay come from both the family and the school and are related mostly with persons(parents, teachers, classmates) and interpersonal relations in the school community.They may be related as well with the teaching subjects, the methods of instructionand the every day events of the school life.

    On the basis of these rather theoretical assumptions we made the hypothesis thatduring transition from primary to secondary school the pupils' motives for academiclearning might be changed radically since they enter a new and in many respectsdifferent school environment, compared with the one of the primary school thatthey have experienced previously. The motives that are explored here are relevantto the pupils' relations with the teachers, their interests for the subjects taught, theparents' expectations for their children' academic achievement, the pupils' persist-ence in completing successfully their school duties, their ambitions for furtherstudies etc.

    The question therefore that arises and this study attempts to answer is: How thepupils' motives for school learning are at the end of their attendance in primaryschool and how these motives are differentiated during their transition from pri-mary to secondary school? Besides this, since academic motives are related topersonal and social factors, to what extent the differentiation of these motives arecorrelated to gender, intelligence, achievement, as well as to socio-economic andeducational level of the pupils' parents?

    The Sample and Procedure

    To test the above hypothesis and give some answers to related questions we appliedthe "Academic Motivation Self-rating Inventory" devised by Entwistle (1967). Thisinventory, which was translated to the Greek language and adjusted for the purposeof the present study, consists of 24 questions to which answers are "yes" or "not".By their answers pupils reveal their motives for the school and the academiclearning. The number of positive answers is the measure of the pupil's academicmotivation. For measuring the pupils' intellectual ability the "Georgas Test ofIntelligence for Children: Vocabulary B", was used.

    The inventory was answered by 486 pupils of the 6th grade of primary school (firstphase: one month before they finished primary school) and by 340 pupils of thesame sample when they entered to secondary school (second phase: one monthafter they start attending secondary school). The sample was drawn from 16 classesof primary schools and 29 classes of secondary schools in Athens and suburbs ofboth state and private sector. (See Table 1). There was a balance between malesand females.

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  • MOTIVES FOR SCHOOL LEARNING 63

    Table 1 Number of Pupils Who Completed the Academic Motivation Self-rating Inventory in6th Grade of Primary School and 1st grade of Gymnasium

    Primary

    A. Phase: 6th

    1st Peristeriou35th Piraeus111st Pagratiou16th Ampelokipon1st Ag. ParaskevisPallinisGerakaMorfotikis (private)

    Schools

    Grade of PS.

    Noof classes

    22322221

    16

    Noof pupils

    7653828958604523

    486

    GymnasiaB. Phase:

    llthAthinon3rd Piraeus7th Pagratiou3rd Ampelokipon2nd Ag. ParaskevisPallinis

    Morfotikis (private)

    1st grade of G.

    Noof classes

    555355

    1

    29

    Noof pupils

    672855444280

    24

    340

    The average (x) of the two measures for 342 pupils in the two phases wascalculated and were found to be 21.00 and 21.34 respectively. The t-test was appliedto test the degree of significance of the difference of the two averages (21.34-20.00= 1.34). The Mest was found to be 2....

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