ERIC Number: ED421281
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1998-Jun
Reference Count: N/A
Motivation and Middle School Students. ERIC Digest.
Anderman, Lynley Hicks; Midgley, Carol
Research has shown a decline in motivation and performance for many children as they move from elementary school into middle school; however, research has also shown that the nature of motivational change on entry to middle school depends on characteristics of the learning environment in which students find themselves. This Digest outlines some suggestions for middle school teachers and administrators for enhancing student motivation and discusses three theories that are currently prominent and that have particular relevance for young adolescent students and their teachers. Attribution theory emphasizes that students' perceptions of their educational experiences generally influence their motivation more than the objective reality of those experiences. Through instructional practices, teachers can unknowingly communicate a range of attitudes about whether ability is fixed or modifiable and convey their expectations for individual students. Goal theory focuses on the reasons students perceive for achieving: a task goal orientation represents the belief that the purpose of achieving is personal improvement and understanding; an ability goal orientation represents the belief that the purpose of achieving is the demonstration of ability. Studies find that the adoption of task goals is associated with more adaptive patterns of learning than is the adoption of ability goals. A third motivational theory of importance for middle school educators is self-determination theory. This theory describes students as having three categories of needs: needing a sense of competence, of relatedness to others, and of autonomy. Most of the research focuses on the last of these three needs. Within the classroom, autonomy needs could be addressed through allowing student choice and input on classroom decision making. It is important to recognize that supporting student autonomy does not require major upheaval in the classroom or that teachers relinquish the management of students' behavior. Even small opportunities for choice can increase students' sense of self-determination. Contains 13 references. (LPP)
Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Attribution Theory, Classroom Environment, Early Adolescents, Goal Orientation, Intermediate Grades, Junior High Schools, Middle School Students, Middle School Teachers, Middle Schools, Motivation Techniques, Personal Autonomy, Self Determination, Student Attitudes, Student Motivation, Teacher Expectations of Students, Teacher Student Relationship, Teaching Methods, Theories
Publication Type: ERIC Publications; ERIC Digests in Full Text
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, Champaign, IL.
Identifiers: ERIC Digests; Task Goal Attitudes