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An examination of achievement motivation among middle grade African American males

Dissertation
Author: Althea Sample Truesdale
Abstract:
The purpose of the study was to examine factors influencing achievement motivation among nine seventh grade African American male students attending middle schools in the Southeastern region of the United States. The focal question of the study was how peer influence, perceptions of educational experiences, feelings of alienation (cultural discontinuity), cultural context of learning; and elements of Black masculinity influenced achievement motivation among African American seventh grade males. The relationships between these factors were also explored. An instrumental case study methodology was used to collect data. Data were derived from individual interviews with students, interviews with parent(s)/caregiver(s), focus group interviews, observations in the schools and communities as well as field notes taken in the researcher's journal. A content level of analysis was conducted. The results of the study indicated that achievement motivation was demonstrated in the lives of the participants through three contexts of learning. Within the personal context, participants described their self-concept as learner, self-efficacy as learner, and perceptions of Black masculinity. In the sociocultural context, family structure and influence as well as the significance of peer relationships were cited. For the academic context of learning, pedagogical influences and learner self-regulation were noted. Through these contexts, an individual type and a collectivist type of achievement motivation emerged. Implications for classroom practice and research are recommended.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

LIST OF TABLES.........................................................................................................vi

LIST OF FIGURES.......................................................................................................vii

CHAPTER

I. INTRODUCTION............................................................................................1

Conceptual Framework............................................................................4 Purpose of the Study................................................................................9 Research Questions..................................................................................9 Definition of Key Terms........................................................................11 Delimitations and Limitations of the Study.............................................12 Significance of the Study........................................................................13 Summary................................................................................................15

II. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.................................................................16

Introduction............................................................................................16 Achievement Motivation........................................................................16 Peer Influence........................................................................................26 Perceptions of Educational Experiences.................................................30 Feelings of Alienation (Cultural Discontinuity)......................................33 Cultural Context of Learning..................................................................39 Elements of Black Masculinity...............................................................42 Summary................................................................................................59

III. METHODOLOGY.........................................................................................60

Introduction............................................................................................60 Design of the Study................................................................................60 Participants and Context of the Study.....................................................62 Data Collection......................................................................................68 Data Analysis.........................................................................................72 Role of the Researcher...........................................................................74 Trustworthiness of Study........................................................................75

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Page

IV. RESULTS.......................................................................................................78

Introduction............................................................................................78 Personal Context....................................................................................79 Sociocultural Context.............................................................................94 Academic Context................................................................................105

V. IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS.....................................................120

Summary of Research Questions..........................................................120 Implications.........................................................................................135 Aftermath.............................................................................................144

BIBLIOGRAPHY.......................................................................................................148

APPENDIX A. INDIVIDUAL STUDENT AND GROUP INTERVIEW PROTOCOL...............................................................................165

APPENDIX B. PARENT(S)/CAREGIVER(S) INTERVIEW PROTOCOL.............168

APPENDIX C. OBSERVATIONS IN SCHOOLS/COMMUNITY PROTOCOL...............................................................................171

APPENDIX D. CHILDREN’S ASSENT FORM......................................................174

APPENDIX E. PARENTAL CONSENT FORM......................................................175

APPENDIX F. SPECIFIC ANALYSIS OF DATA..................................................176

vi

LIST OF TABLES

Page

Table

1 Crosswalk Aligning Research Questions with Data Sources...............................71

2 Strands, Themes, and Attributes.........................................................................73

vii

LIST OF FIGURES

Page

Figure

1 Conceptual Framework......................................................................................10

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CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

Gunnar Myrdal’s (1964) landmark work, An American Dilemma revealed a major contradiction between democracy and racism in American society—a contradiction that persists today. On one hand, America ostensibly represents boundless opportunities and democratic ideals for its citizens. Yet, on the other hand, America continues to promote and sustain racial inequality (Grant, 1997; Hale, 2001). African American males have always presented a challenge to American democracy. In particular, future opportunities for our African American males have invariably been at the center of America’s race question (Atkinson & O’Connor, 1996). One of the most tragic results of American racism, however, is its relentless impact on adolescents. Bankston and Caldas (1997) assert that the opportunity for African American youth to obtain a quality education, the ability to secure gainful employment that pays a livable wage, and the desire to live in safe communities are all marked by a racial hierarchy where Whiteness is valued and Blackness is degraded. Hale (2001) maintained that the miseducation of African Americans can be viewed as a form of educational malpractice. In many instances, African American students face educators’ low expectations and indifferences daily. They are more at-risk for: (a) not being able to read at grade level; (b) being absent from school due to in- school and out-of-school suspension; (c) being placed in special education; (d) and

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becoming drop-outs (Bronkhurst, 2001). Consequently, African American males are the most at-risk for not receiving a quality education that will afford future life opportunities. Educational researchers have consistently found unequal levels of achievement between African American and Caucasian students (Bankston & Caldas, 1997; Graybill, 1997). Academicians and educational specialists such as Hurd (2001) referred to the problem faced by African American students, as the “achievement gap.” Hurd (2001) further pointed out that in North Carolina’s school system less than sixty percent of African American high school students graduate in fourteen years. As Joseph (2000) noted, if Caucasian students were dropping out at the same rates as African American students, we would declare a state of emergency. It is time to proclaim a state of emergency and require educators, administrators and elected officials to consider issues related to achievement motivation among African American male students (Tyson, 2002). Disparity in achievement among middle grade African American males in America’s public schools continues to rise. By the time African American males reach the sixth grade, they are two years behind their Caucasian peers in reading, writing and mathematics (Graybill, 1997; Joseph, 2000). According to Graybill (1997), achievement motivation is the heart of the learning process. Achievement motivation is a pivotal concept in most theories of learning. It is closely related to: (a) arousal; (b) attention; (c) anxiety; and (d) feedback/reinforcement (Graybill, 1997; Joseph, 2000). A wide variety of variables that are believed to influence achievement motivation in African American students have been investigated in great detail. These factors include: (a) peer influence; (b) perceptions of educational experiences; (c) feelings of alienation (cultural

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discontinuity), (d) cultural context of learning; and (e) elements of Black masculinity (Bankston & Caldas, 1997; Bennett, 1999; Gay, 2000; Grant, 1997; Graybill, 1997; Hale, 2001; Irvine & Armento, 2001; Johnson, 2000; Nieto, 1999). An important issue related to my study is what constitutes a positive educational experience for middle grade African American males in terms of how the learning environment is related to achievement motivation, and the ways in which the current middle school system seems to be failing these students. In order for teachers and other professionals to understand this issue, they need to become familiar with the factors related to achievement motivation. Therefore, the purpose of my study was to examine sociocultural factors affecting achievement motivation for adolescent African American males. The impetus for my beginning this research journey was the middle school experiences of my own son. Although my son Gerard was a highly motivated and engaged student while attending elementary school, by the time he reached middle school and especially seventh grade his interest in school declined sharply. Gerard’s grades were not reflective of his capabilities and he seemed to have lost his motivation to learn. I was completely perplexed and could not understand why this was happening. After discussing this issue with other African American and Caucasian male students about the same age as Gerard, I began to realize that African American males described their motivation toward school in different ways and appeared to experience the learning environment differently.

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Conceptual Framework Two theories undergird this study: attribution theory and motivation theory. Attribution theory posits that students’ perceptions of their educational experiences will generally influence their achievement motivation more than the actual objective of those experiences (Weiner, 1985). For example, a history of success in a given subject area is generally assumed to lead one to continue persisting in that area. When students have a history of failure in school, it is particularly difficult for them to sustain the motivation to continue trying. Weiner (1985), however, pointed out that students’ beliefs about the reasons for their success will determine whether this assumption is true; students’ attributions for failure are also important influences on motivation. According to Anderman and Maehr (1994), attribution theory has particular relevance for young African American adolescent students. Students who believe that their poor performance is caused by factors out of their control are unlikely to see any reason to hope for improvement. In contrast, if students attribute their poor performance to a lack of important skills or to poor study habits, they are more likely to persevere in the future (Weiner, 1985). The implications for teachers revolve around the importance of understanding what students believe about the reasons for their academic performance. Weiner (1986) connected attribution theory to achievement motivation. He described the theory as a sequential process initiated by the outcome of a certain event. The process involves several steps. The first step commences with the realization of the

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outcome. The second step is determining if the outcome is negative or positive. Specific information about the outcome is gathered during this third step. The search for a cause of the negative or positive effect represents the fourth step of the sequential process and involves pointing out effort, strategy, or luck as explaining achievement motivation. It is also important to note that achievement motivation in the view of McClelland (1985) is comprised of numerous factors. He has identified several common characteristics among achieving individuals, including the ability to set obtainable goals, concern for personal achievement over external rewards for success, and the desire for performance related feedback rather than attitudinal feedback. McClelland (1985) found that achievement-motivated students consistently think about ways in which they can progress. This, in turn, increases achievement. McClelland (1985) further posited that the motive or need for achievement can be learned. It is possible that African American male students have tempered their academic achievement motivation with the achievement need associated with peer influence—that is, of wanting respect (belonging, etc.) from friends (peer group). Perhaps this is the attribute most influencing overall achievement motivation among male African American middle school students. Keller (1995) presented four major types of strategies that can be used to increase achievement motivation in African American students: (a) attention; (b) relevance; (c) confidence; and (d) satisfaction. Attention strategy engaged perceptual arousal, where the teacher gained and maintained students’ attention by using novel, surprising or uncertain events in instruction. Relevance strategy incorporated familiarity as a key component by using concrete language examples and concepts that related to the students’ experiences,

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helping them to integrate new information. Confidence strategy incorporated an expectation for success, ensuring students are aware of performance requirements and evaluative criteria while providing a challenging environment for each student. Satisfaction strategy allowed students to apply newly acquired knowledge in a real or simulated setting. It also required feedback and reinforcement to sustain desired behaviors, and practices equity by maintaining consistent standards and consequences for all students. My study examined a number of attributional factors influencing achievement motivation that are identified in the literature. These include: (a) peer influence; (b) perceptions of educational experiences; (c) feelings of alienation (cultural discontinuity); (d) cultural context of learning; and (e) elements of Black masculinity. Peer influence is considered to be one of the more important attributional variables influencing achievement motivation (Bankston & Caldas, 1997; Graybill, 1997). As children grow, develop and move into early adolescence, involvement with one’s peers and the attraction of peer identification increases (Johnson, 2000). When identification increases and adolescents become members of groups, peer influences thus become an attributional variable that can influence both achievement and the motivation to achieve academically, especially among male African American students. Perceptions of educational experiences represent another attributional factor influencing achievement motivation. If students do not relate to the educational experiences or perceive them to pertain to others and not themselves, they will be less motivated to achieve. According to Curtis (1998), educational experiences can relate to

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African American as well as Caucasian students by creating a culturally responsive curriculum – that is, by making race matter. Other researchers have agreed; both the curriculum and the teaching need to be culturally responsive in order to improve achievement motivation among minority group students, especially African Americans (Gay, 2000; Grant, 1997; Hale, 2001). As noted by Graybill (1997), teachers’ contributions to cultural discontinuity can also serve as an attributional variable influencing students’ feelings of alienation and thus their achievement motivation. Graybill has explained that:

Cultural discontinuity occurs when the White middle-class teacher, frequently female, views Black male behavior as disruptive, talking back or acting out . . . Black males who find themselves in a clash with a White female teacher may be misunderstood because the teacher does not understand African American males. (1997, p. 314)

African-American students are often in conflict with their teachers as a result of cultural discontinuity, as described by Graybill. In other words, the students’ language, behavior, and learning style are primarily Afro-centric, while the majority of administrators, teachers and curricula are Euro-centric in their cultural outlook. According to Whaley and Smyer (1998), cultural discontinuity in the context of feelings of alienation causes African American adolescents to drop out of school. The researchers provided support for their viewpoint from a study that measured alienation. Middle school students’ scores on the Adolescent Alienation Index were negatively correlated with grade point average and level of social involvement in school activities for all students (Whaley & Smyer, 1998). However, scores were positively correlated with measures of behavioral maladjustment

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for African American students only (Whaley & Smyer, 1998). In this particular study, African American students often misbehaved if they had low grade point averages and believed that they could not relate, or benefit from activities in the classroom that were performed by other students. Cultural discontinuity can also be described as the cultural context of learning. Graybill (1997) maintained that all school curricula should contain references to the various cultures represented in the classroom. Irvine and Armento (2001) have suggested that lesson plans for middle grade students should reflect culturally responsive teaching. Clearly, when an individual’s learning experiences relate to her or his own culture, there is more interest in learning and thus knowledge has more meaning. This translates into improved achievement, especially among African American male students. The final factor of the study, elements of Black masculinity, is another attribute of concern related to achievement motivation. “Acting tough” is an important part of Black masculinity, especially among adolescents and that, in turn, means defying authority. Anderson (2000) contended that African American masculinity is revealed when one commands respect from his peers through vengeance and violence. Moreover, according to Anderson, it is not really possible to determine whether a person is “decent” or “street” by their lifestyle. The elements of Black masculinity are revealed as Anderson interviewed the inhabitants of North Philadelphia in his book entitled, Code of the Street: Decency, Violence and the Moral Life of the Inner City. Conflict with Whitestream America is the focus of Nathan McCall’s (1995) autobiography entitled, Makes Me Wanna Holler: A Young Black Man In America.

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McCall focused upon Black masculinity in an effort to critique the political and economic dimensions of the White power structure. McCall (1995) further maintained that African American men express their masculinity differently than White men. West (1993) entwined one of America’s most explosive issues and dilemmas: Black masculinity in ways in which the legacy of White supremacy contributes to the arrested development of America’s democracy. The environmental conditions that serve as the context for masculine development begins by distinguishing two opposing analytical camps. The “liberal structuralists” call for full employment, health, education and child-care programs, and affirmative action practices. On the other side are the “conservative behaviorists” who promote self-help programs, African American business expansion, and non-preferential employment practices. See Figure 1 for an illustration of the relationship between the major variables in this study. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this instrumental case study (Stake, 1995) was to examine personal, sociocultural, and academic factors influencing achievement motivation among African American male seventh grade students who are currently attending Golden County middle schools in the Southeastern region of the United States. Research Questions The focal question of this study was how does peer influence, perceptions of educational experiences, feelings of alienation (cultural discontinuity), cultural context of learning, and elements of Black masculinity influence achievement motivation among

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Achievement Motivation of African American Male Seventh Grade Students

Peer Influence Perceptions of educational experiences Feelings of Alienation (Cultural Discontinuity) Cultural context

of learning Elements of Black Masculinity

Figure 1. Conceptual Framework

African American seventh grade males? The following research questions guided the study: 1. How do the participants perceive their motivation to achieve in school? 2. How do the participants perceive peer influence? 3. How do the participants perceive their educational experiences? 4. How do the participants perceive their feelings of alienation (cultural discontinuity)?

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5. How do the participants perceive their feelings about the cultural context of learning? 6. How do the participants perceive elements of Black masculinity? 7. What are the relationships between peer influence, perceptions of educational experiences, feelings of alienation, elements of Black masculinity, and achievement motivation for these participants? Definitions of Key Terms Achievement Motivation: The drive to achieve is present to some degree in all individuals and is defined by Waxman and Huang (1997) as a need to strive towards standards of performance encountered in a wide range of situations especially in the school environment. Student motivation is an important aspect of learning and effective instruction. When students are motivated to perform competently on academic tasks they will learn in accordance with their abilities. Students’ learning is maximized when their achievement motivation is enhanced. Peer Influence: As children grow, develop and move into early adolescence, involvement with one’s peers and the attraction of peer identification increases (Johnson, 2000). Perceptions of Educational Experiences: African American male students’ perceptions of their educational experiences will generally influence their motivation to learn or achieve (Bandura, 1991; Mahiri, 1998; Weiner 1985, 1986, 1992). In this study, the term refers to how students interpret their classroom learning experiences.

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Feelings of Alienation (Cultural Discontinuity): African American children are likely to have experiences that differ from school practices in communication strategies, rules of intervention and in the degree of literacy in their home backgrounds. As a result African American students often feel alienated in their classrooms (Banks, 1992; Braddock, 1990; Dean, 2000; Delpit, 1995; Fordham, 2000; Fordham & Ogbu, 1986). Cultural Context of Learning: It is through the learning process that students may find characters and texts they can relate to on a personal level, in order that they “see” themselves in the course and know that school is for and about them (Bennett, 1999; Irvine & Armento, 2001; Nieto, 1999). In many instances, students enter the classroom with a great deal of knowledge and experience. Darling-Hammond, French, and Garcia- Lopez (2002) maintained that students are more likely to remember concepts if they can connect them to their personal experiences. If students find that the curriculum is linked to their own lives, they will often remain engaged in the subject matter. Black Masculinity: Hondagneu-Sotelo and Messner (1994), Kimmel (1996), Funk (1992), Segal (1993), and Kivel (1992), describe Black Masculinity as a social construct that depict men’s social power and identities as constructed both in relation to women and in relationships between men. Delimitations and Limitations of the Study The purpose of an instrumental case study is to identify factors that serve to influence the central phenomenon of the study (Stake, 1995). This instrumental case study identified the sociocultural factors influencing achievement motivation among African American male seventh grade students who are currently attending Golden

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County middle schools located in the Southeastern region of the United States. The study had several limitations. First, the scope was limited in that this researcher only examined achievement motivation among African American male seventh grade students in a particular school system, subsequently; the findings may not be generalizable to all seventh grade African American male students. Lastly, as Creswell suggests, in this type of qualitative study, “the findings could be subject to other interpretations” (Creswell, 2003, p. 149). Significance of the Study The significance of the study and its potential results touches a number of areas and addresses several different audiences. Findings of the study that support previous research results may lead to changes in school policy, program modifications, teacher preparation, and teacher professional development. It is a well known fact that disparity in achievement among middle grade African American males in America’s public schools has become an alarming problem (Joseph, 2000). Teacher professional development would be necessary to help teachers employ appropriate strategies that address factors affecting achievement motivation. Administrators and stakeholders may become more responsive to students’ needs and make policy changes in order for institutions to address factors pertaining to student motivation. When African American males are provided adequate direction, support and opportunities, they are better able to overcome many of the academic and social challenges that often hinder their development (Joseph, 2000). Authorities agree that

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motivation is enhanced by students’ active involvement and ownership of the learning process (Fordham, 2000; Waxman & Huang, 1997). Parent(s)/Caregiver(s) will be able to understand their child’s willingness, need, desire and compulsion to participate in the learning process. They will also be able to examine various aspects of their child’s achievement motivation. For example, motivation to learn is a competence acquired through general experience, but stimulated directly through modeling, communication, expectations and direct instruction or socialization by significant others—especially parents (Brophy, 1987). Students will become aware of factors that promote achievement motivation in the classroom and how they can increase their overall engagement in the learning process. They will also understand the reasons or goals that underlie their involvement or noninvolvement in academic activities. Strategies that correspond to achievement motivation among African American males tend to replicate the society in which the student is oriented (Dean, 2000). For example, the “No Child Left Behind Act of 2001,” signed by President George W. Bush reflects a greater demand for accountability and standards within education towards the demonstration of students’ as well as teachers’ performance skills (U. S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2001). Given the growing disproportion in academic achievement motivation among middle grade African American males in America’s public schools at the present time, the need for a study investigating factors affecting how African American males experience the learning environment is clear.

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Summary This chapter provided an introduction to the research study. The statement of the problem, research questions, the purpose of the study, and conceptual framework were presented. Key concepts and terms have been defined. Chapter II contains a discussion of the literature related to this research study. It covers the following topics: achievement motivation within academic settings, peer influence and its impact on academic success, student perceptions of the educational experience, cultural discontinuity, the cultural context of learning, and Black masculinity relative to adolescent males. Chapter III details the methodology of the study. Included in this chapter is an explanation of the settings and participants and method of data collection. Issues of trustworthiness or credibility of the study are also discussed. Chapter IV provides results from an analysis of the data. Chapter V connects the results to the research questions. This chapter also provides implications for educational practices and recommendations for future research. Chapter V provides a review of the results of the study and relates the findings to the research literature. Implications for classroom practice and further research are discussed.

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CHAPTER II

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Introduction

The purpose of this chapter is to review the literature pertinent to the major variables of the study, as based in its focal question. The first section examines achievement motivation, primarily as it operates within academic settings. The second section discusses peer influence and its impact on achievement motivation. Student perceptions of their educational experiences are the focus of the third section, followed by a section on feelings of alienation (cultural discontinuity) experienced by students. The fifth section looks at the cultural context of learning, with a focus on African American male students. Finally, in the sixth section, Black masculinity is discussed as it relates to adolescent males. Achievement Motivation Achievement motivation has been defined as the reason why a student achieves (McCollum, 2005), the motivation behind accomplishment (Vallance, 2004), and a product of the interaction between student characteristics and instructional practices (Okolo & Bahr, 1995). Ugodulunwa (1997) wrote that, “Achievement motivation propels a person to desire success and to make a commensurate effort to achieve the same” (p. 523). Familiarity with the necessary steps to success, and the willingness to take them, is the primary characteristic of achievement motivation.

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High levels of achievement motivation are associated with striving for excellence and success without consideration of a particular reward (Coleman, 1993). According to Jorgensen (2000), achievement motivation is conceptually similar to activity involvement and self-esteem, because one’s perception and interpretation of competence directly influences participation and continuance. Achievement motivation is considered a learned behavior or response that can be evident in many areas of life. There are two overarching types of achievement motivation, according to Canatan (2001), the individual type and the group-oriented, or collectivist, type. Most research on achievement motivation places achievement in the context of individual success and competition; thus, the stronger emphasis has been on personal accomplishments, desires, and self-actualization. The less-studied collectivist type of achievement motivation stresses loyalty to the group and the fulfillment of others’ expectations. According to the socio-cognitive theory of achievement motivation proposed by Nicholls’ (1989) study, there are two different goal perspectives, or dispositional goal orientations, that influence an individual’s perceptions of success. They are the task- involved goal orientation (also known as the mastery, or learning, orientation) and the ego goal orientation (also known as performance orientation) (DeBacker & Nelson, 2000). The task-involved orientation (also known as the mastery orientation): Individuals with this perspective define competency and success in terms of learning, effort and task mastery. Their perception of ability is self-referenced (Jorgensen, 2000). According to Bennett (2002), the task-involved orientation is associated with positive, adaptive

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motivational patterns. Adaptive patterns stress working hard, attributing success to effort, witnessing personal improvement, and persisting in the face of difficult circumstances (Bennett, 2002). The ego orientation: On the other hand, individuals with ego orientation assess their ability by normative information. Success or competence is perceived as the capacity to demonstrate superior abilities through outperforming peers, not through effort or personal improvement (Nicholls, 1989). Comparison to others is the primary focus (Jorgensen, 2000). This perspective is associated with negative, maladaptive motivational patterns. Maladaptive patterns stress avoiding challenges, attributing failure to ability, and giving up easily. In general, it has been shown that students who engage in task goals have greater cognitive engagement and persistence than those who engage in ego-involved goals (Ames & Archer, 1988; Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Greene & Miller, 1996, as cited in DeBacker & Nelson, 2000). Task performance consists of learning for the sake of internal and intrinsic rewards (Meece, Blumenfeld, & Hoyle, 1988). In addition, it has been found that successful achievers report more positive self-perceptions, more interpersonal support, more active problem solving, deeper processing, persistence, and effort (Pollard, 1993; Elliot, 1999, as cited in Vallance, 2004). Ego-involved performance is associated with the desire to compare one’s self to one’s peers, to perform relative to others, and to aim for external reinforcement and rewards regardless of whether learning has taken place (Vallance, 2004).

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Studies have found that males tend to be more ego oriented, whereas females tend to be more task oriented (Claes, 2003; Duda, 1997; Jorgensen, 2000; Mann, 2001). Older students are more inclined toward ego orientation and ego-involved climate, and students tend to become more ego oriented as they advance from grade to grade (Chaumetson & Duda, 1988; Harter, 1981; Maeher, 1983, as cited in Bennett, 2002; Nicholls, 1989). Nicholls (1989) theorized that the achievement motivation orientation of a particular individual is a function of three factors: (a) dispositional differences (such as variations in task or ego orientation, or the proneness individuals display towards being task- or ego-involved), (b) situational characteristics (or the motivational climate reflected in the environment), and (c) developmental differences. Motivation has been found to be heavily influenced by students’ beliefs about effort, ability, goal setting, and task difficulty; levels of motivation in turn impact academic outcomes (McCollum, 2005). Evidence suggests that achievement deficiency is the result of motivational problems rather than cognitive disabilities (Okolo & Bahr, 1995). There is clear evidence to imply that achievement motivation is a critical determinant of behavior in the classroom; studies on achievement motivation and the academic performance of students revealed that there is a positive relationship between the two variables (Hancock, 2004; Ugodulunwa, 1997). Learning and motivation are no longer two separate constructs, but are inextricably linked (Okolo & Bahr, 1995). Achievement motivation, the bridge between two constructs, impacts how well students learn new skills and information, as well as how they use their existing skills and knowledge in new as well as familiar situations.

Full document contains 189 pages
Abstract: The purpose of the study was to examine factors influencing achievement motivation among nine seventh grade African American male students attending middle schools in the Southeastern region of the United States. The focal question of the study was how peer influence, perceptions of educational experiences, feelings of alienation (cultural discontinuity), cultural context of learning; and elements of Black masculinity influenced achievement motivation among African American seventh grade males. The relationships between these factors were also explored. An instrumental case study methodology was used to collect data. Data were derived from individual interviews with students, interviews with parent(s)/caregiver(s), focus group interviews, observations in the schools and communities as well as field notes taken in the researcher's journal. A content level of analysis was conducted. The results of the study indicated that achievement motivation was demonstrated in the lives of the participants through three contexts of learning. Within the personal context, participants described their self-concept as learner, self-efficacy as learner, and perceptions of Black masculinity. In the sociocultural context, family structure and influence as well as the significance of peer relationships were cited. For the academic context of learning, pedagogical influences and learner self-regulation were noted. Through these contexts, an individual type and a collectivist type of achievement motivation emerged. Implications for classroom practice and research are recommended.