2005 Soelberg, Devin K by wfq74180


									                                Soelberg, Devin
    Understanding Loss of Motivation (Desire to Succeed) as a
   Function of Identifiable Incidents in College Student Academic
               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

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

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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