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ERIC Number: EJ1163622
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Nov
Pages: 11
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1089-9995
What Motivates Introductory Geology Students to Study for an Exam?
Lukes, Laura A.; McConnell, David A.
Journal of Geoscience Education, v62 n4 p725-735 Nov 2014
There is a need to understand why some students succeed and persist in STEM fields and others do not. While numerous studies have focused on the positive results of using empirically validated teaching methods in introductory science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses, little data has been collected about the student experience in STEM courses. The aim of this study was to capture and characterize the student perception of their motivation to study for an exam in a geoscience class. Students enrolled in introductory physical geology courses (n = 42) at 5 different institutions (seven instructors at two research universities and three community colleges) were interviewed using a semistructured protocol. The interview data were analyzed using a grounded theory approach. The resulting emergent themes included goal orientation and emotion. All students report a performance component to their motivation, where a learning task is a means to an end, such as earning a grade. However, most high performing students (70%) also reported their motivation was also oriented towards a mastery goal, where a learning task itself serves as an end, such as satisfying curiosity, more frequently than low performing students (18%). The majority of students (81%) also described an emotional component to their motivation. Contrary to existing models, most students indicated they were motivated to engage in exam preparation as a way to avoid experiencing negative emotions. These resulting insights to student motivation have implications both for course design and instructional practices in similar introductory courses.
National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Carleton College W-SERC, One North College Street, Northfield, MN 55057. Tel: 540-568-6675; Fax: 540-568-8058; e-mail:; Website:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: 0914404