Soelberg, Devin Understanding Loss of Motivation (Desire to Succeed) as a Function of Identifiable Incidents in College Student Academic Experience Faculty Mentor: W. Kerry Hammock, University Advisement Center The level of motivation in students of collegiate studies varies drastically and affects both campus life and the ultimate success of any institute of higher education. Academic motivation is defined as the desire one has to succeed in academic pursuits. This project attempts to conclude whether or not specific life experiences can be consistently linked to large changes in college students’ motivation. If so, these life experiences will be categorized and placed on a continuum measuring their frequency and severity. Due to a delay of grant funding, the project, originally scheduled to begin in January 2005, was delayed an entire semester, beginning in May. This late start has This report is meant to be an accounting of the time and resources put into the project thus far. It should provide the reader an understanding of where we have come from, where we are, and where we are going with this project. Students enrolled in Student Development 110 (Study Habits) were considered for participation; it was hypothesized that because the study is qualitative, not quantitative, that selection bias need not be an obstacle. These students were generally interested in doing better in school, if not trying to recuperate academically from previous mistakes. This allowed for an excellent environment to study motivation. Preliminary work included researching any previous studies, of which only a few were of consequence. Ernest Pascarella (1985), Vallerand and Bissonnette (1992), and Tinto (1975) are considered experts in the field of motivational studies, especially as it relates to students and academics. After analyzing their work, and using the Missions of BYU, developed a thesis (see opening paragraph). A basic rubric of the interview was designed and approved by the IRB. One of the problems that we encountered at this early stage was how to design the interview so that a student would feel comfortable expressing their feelings and reflections on a topic that some would consider personal. Unless we could provide an atmosphere where subjects would feel open (comfortable and calm) and secure (without the fear of public reticule), they would not be willing to share the vital information that we needed. My mentor and I decided a loose interview structure would allow the interviewer to pursue various avenues as the subject introduced new ideas. Ultimately, the subject led the interview because we would simply follow up and expand ideas that they introduced. This method proved to be extremely effective in this case. All of the subjects have been interviewed and those interviews have been transcribed. This step of transcribing was the most rigorous and time-consuming part of the entire study. Well over 75 hours were spent listening in an attempt to maintain the purity of the dialogue. Currently, my mentor and I are reading each interview and identifying/categorizing any “major incidents” that we find. There are three main categories: academic (failing/passing a test), relationships (engagement, roommates) and major life experiences (death of a family member, new job). Within each of those categories are between six and seven sub-categories that will assist us in determining more intricate patterns in the students. We estimate that we will complete this phase of the project by the end of January 2006. With the data we collect from the interview analysis, we hope to find patterns and certain events that happen more frequently or have a greater effect on students. We will prepare an organized presentation of our findings and some recommendations for the university. With this information, the university will be better informed on the needs of the students and be better equipped in designing new facilities and programs to address those needs.
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