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Are lazy students the least successful? New research explores student motivation

New research explores how student motivation affects future academic success

United Kingdom, 9 September 2013 – It’s the start of another academic year, and many students will be starting the potentially daunting task of engaging with, and hopefully achieving success, in their chosen academic field.  But according to new research published in Education + Training this month, the level of student motivation can have an unpredictable impact on future academic success. 

In the paper "“I can’t be arsed”: A small scale exploration of students’ self-reported motivation on entering a course of study and eventual success"  practising university lecturers Alicia Prowse and Rachel Delbridge of Manchester Metropolitan University, UK,  studied the patterns of  student motivation against progression and achievement over a three-year period.  Alicia Prowse comments, “We were faced with two students, who in the second week of term stated that they “couldn’t be arsed” and we wondered: “if a student can’t be bothered at the start, then what is their future? – and do we, as teachers, need to be concerned about this attitude?” So we decided that an exploration of our students’ motivation might begin to illuminate these questions for us”.

In a surprising twist, the research found that patterns of high motivation can be found in students who ultimately persist but do not achieve top grades, whereas the most successful students demonstrated low levels of motivation. The research concludes that it is those students who know their capabilities, and are realistic about the fact that they may find some learning onerous, who are actually the most academically successful in the long term.

The authors suggest that teaching staff can benefit from understanding what motivates individual students to learn, and find workable strategies for connecting and engaging with all students in the classroom, even those who claim “I can’t be arsed”.

Published by Emerald Group Publishing, Education + Training addresses the increasingly complex relationships between education, training and employment and the impact of these relationships on national and global labour markets. For more information about the journal, please visit www.emeraldinsight.com/et.htm

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