• unlimited access with print and download
    $ 37 00
  • read full document, no print or download, expires after 72 hours
    $ 4 99
More info
Unlimited access including download and printing, plus availability for reading and annotating in your in your Udini library.
  • Access to this article in your Udini library for 72 hours from purchase.
  • The article will not be available for download or print.
  • Upgrade to the full version of this document at a reduced price.
  • Your trial access payment is credited when purchasing the full version.
Buy
Continue searching

Student choice: A motivational strategy to increase achievement among middle school students

Dissertation
Author: Margaret A. Mudd
Abstract:
  Maintaining motivation within a learning environment is a task that many middle school educators face. The conceptual framework for this study incorporated components of motivation and choice theory. The purpose of this study was to investigate student choice as a motivational strategy included in instruction to affect academic achievement among middle school students. A quantitative quasi-experimental nonequivalent control-group design was utilized to investigate whether or not there a significant difference in students' academic achievement with the presence of student choice as a motivational strategy. The sample consisted of 91 students. The researcher collected data and triangulated the study by having the students complete a pretest/posttest. A survey was included to gauge the participants' attitudes toward learning and motivation. An Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) was utilized to determine whether or not there was a significant difference between the data from the pretest and posttest. The pretest, posttest, and surveys were analyzed using descriptive statistics. The data from the ANCOVA revealed that there was no significant difference between students' academic achievement with the presence of student choice as a motivational strategy. Survey data established that the participants became motivated when given opportunities for choice. Based on the data from this study, additional research is needed to locate instructional strategies that motivate middle school students. This study can influence positive social change as it may impact student achievement. Providing a learning environment that includes student perceptions toward learning would be beneficial in building a successful learning experience. Thus, involvement of students in their learning will assist them to apply themselves to determining goals, making quality choices, and playing an active role in a society of knowledge.

TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES ......................................................................................................................... vi SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION .....................................................................................................1 Statement of the Problem .................................................................................................................5 Nature of the Study ..........................................................................................................................5 Research Questions and Hypotheses ...............................................................................................6 Purpose of the Study ........................................................................................................................6 Theoretical Framework ....................................................................................................................7 Operational Definitions ..................................................................................................................10 Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations ................................................................................11 Assumptions ...................................................................................................................................11 Limitations .....................................................................................................................................12 Scope and Delimitations ................................................................................................................12 Significance of the Study ...............................................................................................................12 Summary ........................................................................................................................................13 SECTION 2: LITERATURE REVIEW ........................................................................................14 Introduction ....................................................................................................................................14 Motivation ......................................................................................................................................14 Components of Motivation ............................................................................................................15 Attribution and Drive Theories ......................................................................................................15 Self-Worth Theory .........................................................................................................................17 Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation .................................................................................................18 Self-Actualization ..........................................................................................................................20 Choice Theory ................................................................................................................................20

i v Social Cogniton………………………………………………………………………………….23 Self - Efficacy……………………………………………………………………………………23 Goal Setting……………………………………………………………………………………...25 Self - Regulated Learning………………………………………………………………………..25 Motivation and Learning in the Middle Grades………………………………………………….26 Student Interests………………………………………………………………………………….28 Instructional Strategies and Choice ...............................................................................................31 Traditional Classroom vs. Student Choice Classroom ..................................................................31 Learning groups and motivation ....................................................................................................33 Problem-Based Learning ...............................................................................................................33 Summary ........................................................................................................................................34 SECTION 3: METHODOLOGY ..................................................................................................36 Introduction ....................................................................................................................................36 Research Design and Approach .....................................................................................................37 Setting and Sample ........................................................................................................................38 Participants .....................................................................................................................................39 Treatment .......................................................................................................................................40 Surveys ...........................................................................................................................................41 Validity ..........................................................................................................................................42 Reliability .......................................................................................................................................43 Data Collection and Analysis.........................................................................................................43 Evidence of Quality and Triangulation ..........................................................................................44 Participants’ Rights ........................................................................................................................45 Summary ........................................................................................................................................45 SECTION 4: PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS OF DATA ...................................................46 Introduction ....................................................................................................................................46

v

Procedure .......................................................................................................................................46 Data Analysis .................................................................................................................................47 Research Question .........................................................................................................................47 Pretest and Survey Data .................................................................................................................48 Posttest Data...................................................................................................................................54 Conclusion .....................................................................................................................................55 SECTION 5: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION, AND RECOMMENDATIONS .............................56 Introduction ....................................................................................................................................56 Interpretation of the Results ...........................................................................................................57 Implications for Social Change ......................................................................................................60 Recommendation for Action ..........................................................................................................62 Recommendations for Further Study .............................................................................................63 Final Conclusion ............................................................................................................................64 References ......................................................................................................................................66 Appendix A: Request for Permission from School to Conduct Research .....................................71 Appendix B: Student Motivation for Learning Survey ..................................................................73 Appendix C: Bloom’s Taxonomy Comparison and Student Choice Menu ...................................74 Appendix D: Student Menu of Choices .........................................................................................75 CURRICULUM VITAE ................................................................................................................76

i

v LIST OF TABLES

Table 1: Descriptive Statistics for Pretest ......................................................................................48 Table 2: Student Motivation for Learning Survey .........................................................................49 Table 3: Survey Question 1 Results ...............................................................................................50 Table 4: Survey Question 2 Results……………………………………………………………...50 Table 5: Survey Question 3 Results……………………………………………………………...51 Table 6: Survey Question 4 Results……………………………………………………………...51 Table 7: Survey Question 5 Results……………………………………………………………...51 Table 8: Survey Question 6 Results……………………………………………………………...52 Table 9: Survey Question 7 Results……………………………………………………………...52 Table 10: Survey Question 8 Results…………………………………………………………….52 Table 11: Survey Question 9 Results…………………………………………………………….53 Table 12: Survey Question 10 Results…………………………………………………………...53 Table 13: Descriptive Statistics for Posttest ..................................................................................54 Table 14: Levene’s Test of Equality of Error Variances ...............................................................54 Table 15 Test of Between-Subjects Effects ...................................................................................55

SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY Educating the children of today’s world involves change. As a result, advances in education have provided learning opportunities that have transformed a traditional learning environment. For example, Hargreaves (2003) stated that educators must prepare students for a knowledge society where instruction becomes focused on creativity and problem solving. Hargreaves also proposed that schools would need to commit to standards-based learning. Standards-based learning will allow all students the opportunity to achieve high standards of cognitive learning. Students will take knowledge and apply it to unfamiliar problems. Broadening the curriculum opens opportunities for students to find relevancy with their learning. Typically, upon reaching middle school, students become disengaged with learning. An educator must locate instructional strategies that utilize methodologies that will keep students engaged in learning. Students that become focused and interested in learning will be able to succeed in a society that changes constantly. Marzano (2007) stated that standards-based learning is guiding curriculum decisions. Specifically, teachers are changing instruction to include learning opportunities that build knowledge. For example, lessons that revolve around a problem for students to solve have become beneficial for students to expand their knowledge. Torp and Sage (2002) agreed that the use of problem-based learning in a classroom allows a student to delve deeper into inquiry to solve a problem. The students become entrenched with inquiry toward relevant topics and remain motivated during the learning activity. Delisle (1997) affirmed that problem-based learning promotes higher academic standards and improved achievement for all students.

2 Tomlinson (2001) declared that teachers must plan a variety of ways to encourage learning in a classroom, and it is a challenge to do so. Kohn (1999) agreed that educators must embrace the challenge to locate the impacting connection with their students to keep them motivated and eager to learn. For example, many children are underachieving, disengaged, and unmotivated. Therefore, Kohn asserted that educators must explore instructional tools that will engage a student to learn. The need to reform school culture is apparent to school districts due to the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), widely enforced by the United States Department of Education (2004). Marzano (2003) purported that establishing academic goals and expectations will make a school effective and it appears NCLB has triggered schools to reevaluate curriculum and school policies. Specifically, school districts are redefining instruction through improved academic programs and raised expectations for students. School reform on core academic areas has been implemented to affect achievement scores in academic subjects. Therefore, academic goals and expectations that are determined by a school could assist them with meeting guidelines set forth by NCLB. Instruction must be motivating and relevant to a student. For example, Kohn (1999) suggested that when students become engaged with a lesson, relevancy is apparent. Specifically, presenting the class with a real-world problem and allowing the students to learn whatever is necessary through investigation permit the students to become stakeholders in their learning (Torp & Sage, 2002). Thus, students remain motivated and eager to complete the learning activity.

3 Modifying instructional strategies that provide a variety of learning experiences will make learning more interesting. For example, Armstrong (2006) reported that students greatly were motivated during active learning activities over traditional methods of lecture, overhead, or textbook learning. Erwin (2004) stated that students are more interested in why material is important and how it relates to them. Therefore, teachers should share with their students the importance of learning the material. Erwin also suggested that keeping instruction varied and allowing the students to participate in learning opportunities that stray from traditional practices may boost motivation and thus, promote achievement. Erwin (2004) and Glasser (1998) suggested that fun activities would increase learning. For example, Sullo (2007) stated that educators should include a sense of joy into learning plans that makes the classroom inspiring. Glasser affirmed that when both learning and fun occur, students work diligently as they are enjoying the task. Erwin agreed that fun activities maintain interest in learning. Erwin (2004) and Gardner (1991) stated that teachers should appeal to various learning modes and engage students as they learn. Instructional focus should be tailored to the auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners. For example, Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory focuses on individual differences among students. Gardner stated that educators should include learning activities that allow their students to explore and learn in many ways. Gardner urged that curriculums allow for individual learning modes. Individual learning modes could permit students to appreciate their strengths, thus, succeed academically. Erwin asserted teachers who prepare lessons that eliminate a

4 learning mode may result in a group of learners who become unfocused, develop poor self esteem, and unmotivated to learn. Providing learning opportunities that allow students to make decisions and choices about specific academic tasks could improve achievement. Incremental activities of choice could assist students with building ability (Tomlinson, 2001). In turn, Hawley and Rollie (2002) stated that student choice and self-determination can improve motivation. Students would experience academic successes sooner when choice is present, resulting in increased motivation and self esteem (Brophy, 1998). For example, breaking an assignment down from numerous questions into smaller parts for students to choose from will cause the assignment to become manageable and allow the students to receive feedback on their work in quicker fashion (Hawley & Rollie, 2002). Stipek (2002) concurred that students given choices feel control over their learning. Additionally, developing tasks of choice could be used for assessment. Performance assessment choices are endless. These choices could include oral reports, skits, dioramas, or creating an advertisement. A teacher at the conclusion of a learning unit could present a list of options for students’ choice that could demonstrate material mastery to the students. Erwin (2004) suggested creating assessment tools that allow students to reveal their individual strengths. For example, Tomlinson (2001) indicated that assessment tools should include written assignments, the use of technology, or an oral presentation to exhibit mastery. Thus, all students could experience academic success.

5 Statement of the Problem Middle school students experience cognitive, social, and emotional changes during those years of their educational process. Stipek (2002) contended that educators of middle school aged adolescents must amend instruction to include learning activities that will keep a middle school student interested and motivated because, the lack of motivation to learn, especially among middle school students, is a chief concern among educators. For example, this lack of motivation has caused achievement to become depressed (Armstrong, 2006). Maintaining motivation within a learning environment is a daunting task that many educators face. The lack of student motivation often results in low performances and achievement. Thus, the learning atmosphere should build motivation through activities that further self-worth, drive, and allow for some student control (Marzano, 2003). Therefore, the purpose of this study is to investigate student choice as a motivational strategy included in instruction to affect academic achievement among middle school students. Nature of the Study Creswell’s (1998) quantitative design models suggested that the use of a quasi- experimental nonequivalent control-group design would be a suitable choice to explore instructional techniques that enhance student achievement. The study evaluated how individuals act and react toward a specific motivational strategy added to instruction. The control-group design described by Creswell (2003) states that the experimental group and control group are selected without random selection. This selection process works well

6 with classroom settings. The addition of student choice will serve as a motivational

strategy to increase achievement. The inclusion of participants’ scores and remarks from a survey allow for a high level of detail with regard to the level of participants’ motivation. Research Questions and Hypotheses This study will seek to answer the following research question and hypotheses. The following research question and hypotheses will be utilized for the study: Is there a significant difference between students’ academic achievement with the presence of student choice as a motivational strategy? Null Hypothesis: There is no significant difference between students’ academic achievement with the presence of student choice as a motivational strategy. Alternative Hypothesis: There is a significant difference between students’ academic achievement with the presence of student choice as a motivational strategy. The addition of student choice as a motivational strategy during instruction will serve as the independent variable. Academic achievement will act as the dependent variable for this study.

Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to evaluate student choice, used as a motivational strategy during instruction, and its relationship to academic achievement. The study focused on middle school students in sixth grade. Specifically, four classes of sixth grade students from a rural school in Southeast Georgia participated in this study.

7 Each mathematics class had approximately 25 students. Two classes received traditional instruction as driven by a textbook. The other two classes received instruction on the same material as the textbook, but its assignments were tailored toward student choice for completion. Student progress was measured through the use of a pretest at the start of the instructional unit and a posttest at the end of the unit. Each class completed the same pre and posttests. The grades from the pre- and posttests were used to conduct statistical analyses. Surveys completed by participants also played a part in the study. The survey responses acted as participant views toward instruction and motivation. A 4-point scale was utilized on the surveys and was included in statistical analyses. By adding components of student choice that include student input and interests to the instructional data gathered, it is presumed that use of achievement scores and survey responses could enhance the validity of the study’s results. Theoretical Framework Marzano (2003) stated that student motivation and achievement are connected. If students are motivated to learn the subject, their achievement in that subject will be high. Researchers (Covington, 1992; Kohn, 1999, & Marzano, 2003) agreed that motivation is the key to academic success. The dynamics of motivation are not established within an instructional environment. For example, Marzano recommended that schools or individual teachers could enhance instruction by locating motivational strategies. Erwin (2004) suggested using choice as a motivator for students to complete learning tasks, which in turn, might increase academic achievement.

8 Components of motivation and choice theory acted as the theoretical framework for this study. Several theories supported the definition for motivation. This study focused on several components from motivational theories. These components include drive, attribution, self-worth, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and choice theory. The motivational theories provided an understanding of what leads a student to be motivated and the ability to make academic gains. Choice theory explained the need for students to have choices within their learning. First, motivational theories are based on an individual’s need for drive, attribution, self-worth, intrinsic, and extrinsic motivation. Covington (1992) stated that these needs work together to provide a student with a positive self image and success in a school setting. Middle school aged students struggle with self-image and engage in behaviors that can become success or failure avoidant. Marzano (2003) purported that drive theory can be a factor in whether a student is success oriented or failure avoidant. These traits can determine the motivational aspect in a learning environment. Covington (1992) agreed that drive could develop obstacles for success-oriented students. Drive can be a challenge for students who seek work avoidance strategies. Next, attribution theory is a crucial component to motivation. Attribution explains if an individual has the drive to succeed or fail toward certain tasks. Covington (1992) believes that effort plays a role in achievement. Student effort promotes choice to complete difficult tasks over time. Autonomy, as explained by Pintrich and Schunk (1996), refers to the amount of choice that a student will have in deciding when and how

9 to complete tasks. Using student effort and autonomy could impact student choice as an indicator to affect academic achievement. Pintrich and Schunk (1996) stated that self-worth theory is constructed through self- esteem. Covington (1992) concurred that self-worth in school-aged children decides school achievement. Adolescents particularly are concerned with their self-image. Students need to feel accepted by their peers and successful in academic activities. Therefore, low motivational levels may result when a student’s self-esteem is poor. For example, Maslow’s (1954) theory of hierarchy of needs explained that esteem is crucial for an individual to achieve. Motivational levels depend on an individual’s self-esteem. According to researchers, Pintrich and Schunk (1996) intrinsic motivation is defined as participation in an activity for its own sake. Intrinsic tasks are completed because they are enjoyable. Rogers, Ludington, and Graham (1999) described extrinsic motivators as anything that has inherent value and is offered to produce or change a behavior. Overuse of extrinsic motivators can lead to undesirable behaviors over long periods of time. Stipek (2002) suggested withdrawing external rewards, such as, a tangible of candy or a prize as soon as possible and focus on the intrinsic value of the task. Educators need to locate strategies that could build intrinsic motivation. For example, allowing students to make choices during instruction may be labeled as an intrinsic motivator. Students begin to gain ownership with their academic goals if given the opportunity to choose what activities to complete (Kohn, 1999; Stipek, 2002). Specifically, Glasser (2001) purported choice theory provides an understanding of why and how individuals behave, therefore, a purpose that motivates a behavior. There

10 are five basic needs to drive behavior. These needs include the need to survive, to love and belong, to gain power, to be free, and to have fun. Choice theory incorporated into a classroom can assist students with awareness of their behaviors, thus leading to performance gains and discovering the intrinsic value of learning (Erwin, 2004). In this study, the phenomenon of including student choice as a motivational strategy and its relationship to academic achievement was researched. Operational Definitions The following operational terms were utilized throughout the study Attribution: The attributes possessed by an individual to succeed or fail toward specific tasks (Covington, 1992). Autonomy: The degree of choice that a student refers to when performing a specific task (Pintrich & Schunk, 1996). Cognitive engagement potential: The degree to which teachers can elicit students to think and apply ideas in an active fashion (Brophy, 1998). Curiosity: Desire to learn something through piqued interest (Brophy, 1998). Failure avoidance: The desire to avoid challenging tasks within a learning environment (Covington, 1992). Interest: A personality trait or characteristic of an individual that is reflected toward a specific activity or topic for a period of time (Pintrich & Schunk, 1996). Intrinsic motivation: Motivation to engage in activity in the absence of any extrinsic reward or purpose (Stipek, 2002) Learning and motivation: Students are apt to learn and be engaged in activities that they

11 believe will help them learn (Pintrich & Schunk, 1996). Learning and performance goals: Learning goals refer to mastery and understanding of skills while performance goals concern performing better than others and winning approval (Stipek, 2002). Perception of ability: The way an individual rates their competence toward a task (Stipek, 2002). Reward: Can be described as intrinsic, extrinsic, or act as a tangible or intangible that a person can earn after achieving a desired behavior (Brophy, 1998). Student choice: Allowing students to choose alternative tasks or opportunities to meet educational requirements (Brophy, 1998). Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations Assumptions Several assumptions will be made in this study. First, the teacher in the study is assumed to provide instruction that is equal in quality as required by standards set forth by the State Department of Georgia. Second, it is assumed that the participants answered honestly and accurately on the surveys. Finally, all of the participants in the study will have participated in lessons driven by a textbook. It is assumed these lessons will have provided skills to serve as scaffolding for the new lessons to be introduced during the study to the treatment group and the control group.

12 Limitations Limitations to this study may impact the generalizability of its results. The study will be limited to one school setting employing a convenience sample of four classes of sixth grade students. The sixth grade population consists of five classes. These classes are arranged with a variety of abilities. Only four classes participated in the study due to the similarities of class size and abilities. The fifth class is strictly a gifted and talented group. Thus, the sample may not be an actual representation of the entire sixth grade population and could impact the generalizability of the study. The researcher is the only teacher participating in the study. This participation will act as a limitation as possible bias may occur (Creswell, 2003). I will need to follow strict ethical guidelines due to the use of my classes. These guidelines include employing confidentiality, recognizing personal biases, and accurately recording data (Mills, 2003). Scope and Delimitations This study was confined to students in the sixth grade at a rural elementary school in Southeastern Georgia. The school houses Grades 3 through 6, with a total population of 430 students. The sixth grade contains 122 students. Four student groups participating in the study and not the entire school population defined the scope the study. Significance of the Study This study is significant due to the lack of motivational levels exhibited by students in middle school. Typically, students of middle school age begin to change intellectually, emotionally, and socially (Armstrong, 2006). These changes require instruction to be altered to meet the needs of these students. Educators must secure instructional

13 techniques that will keep students motivated in order to, achieve academic success. Student choice, as a motivational strategy, will be investigated as an instructional technique that could prove significant in motivating middle school students thus, allowing these students to experience academic success. Summary Section 1 provided insight on academic achievement by increasing motivation of middle school aged students by incorporating choice as a motivational strategy. Section 2 provides a literature review relevant to motivation and academic achievement. The review will outline the essential components of motivation and learning. Specific instructional strategies that include the relationship between student choice and academic achievement will be included in the literature review. Section 3 provides a thorough discussion of the methodology to be utilized for this study. Section 4 presents the data analysis. A summary, conclusions, and recommendations from the study are included in Section 5.

SECTION 2: LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction Educating today’s children is in constant flux. Keeping students motivated and eager to learn is a daunting task. Educators must use strategies to keep students engaged in their learning and provide an education that will meet the needs of today’s society. A search of the professional literature revealed a gap with studies on motivational strategies and their relationship to academic success. Many studies focused on the theory of motivation but did not specifically focus on student grade levels. Few reform efforts have emerged which focus on motivational levels among middle school aged students and academic achievement. The review provided various underlying behaviors about motivation. This study will evaluate motivational strategies and its relationship to academic success among middle school students. The literature review focused on the components of motivation, learning and motivation in the middle grades, and instructional strategies that create student engagement. The review was completed through various readings of books, periodicals, and journals. Motivation Motivation is defined using a variety of terms. Stipek (2002) stated that theories of motivation explain, predict, and influence human behaviors. Pintrich and Schunk (1996) agreed that motivation levels clarify why an individual participates in certain tasks. Motivation has also been defined as a conditioned response to stimuli brought upon by a reinforcement or reward (Alderman, 2004). Contemporary views on motivation include individual’s thoughts and beliefs toward an activity. For example, Covington (1992) explained motivation as the reasons why a person chooses to work on certain tasks and

15 some tasks not at all or to pursue a task with diligent effort until completed. According to Brophy (1998), student motivation is described as “the degree to which students invest attention and effort in various pursuits, which may or may not be the ones desired by their teachers” (p.3). Students’ attempts toward learning goals are highly affected by their motivation and desire to learn. Stipek stated that a student’s belief affects their behavior toward learning. Components of Motivation The basis of motivation has been identified through many theories. Motivation is required for students to succeed in a learning environment. Relative theories on motivation are presented to provide an understanding of why motivation is a critical component to learning. Theories in reference to the school environment lean on the behavioral aspect rather than provide strategies to enhance motivation in a classroom. Attribution and Drive Theories Attribution and drive theories are built upon the perspective of how an individual perceives the causes of successes and failures in prior engagements (Covington, 1992). Drive can be split into two forces. These forces are success or failure. The drives of success and failure work simultaneously of each other. Over long periods of time, individuals form habits to be success-oriented or failure-avoidant. These behaviors form the likelihood of what a person’s motivational level will be toward tasks. Marzano (2003) asserted that a student’s success and failure within a classroom are closely related to their motivational level. Marzano stated that students who are success-oriented will continue to be motivated toward new tasks due to the anticipated reward. Failure-avoidant students

16 will not be motivated to embrace new tasks since the effect is negative. Students who engage in avoidance behaviors typically have had failures toward specific tasks and will involve themselves in behaviors that will result in avoidance. These students will seek opportunities that will provide them with outlets to avoid a task of failure. According to Covington (1992), a failure-threatened student will claim their failures as a result of inability rather than an inability to try the task. These same students, if any successes do occur, will assert that obtained successes were by luck or from the help of others. Stipek (2002) agreed that students that exhibit past histories of poor performance will attribute success to an external cause. Typically, students who are motivated within a classroom possess attribution characteristics of previous success. These students will rely on effort and will try hard to gain a success. Covington (1992) affirmed that effort is an important feature of attribution theory. A student’s persistence to succeed instills satisfaction and will offset failure. Stipek (2002) agreed that effort attributions have a positive effect on learning and future performances in the classroom. Effort can be modified in students by the actions of a teacher. Instruction that meets the needs all students will reduce the chance of some students thinking they are incapable to completing tasks. On the other hand, instruction should be challenging for students with attainable learning goals. Marzano (2003) agreed that challenges are required for the success-oriented student. Failure-avoidant students will produce hardships for a teacher that has high expectations for the class. For example, procrastination of failure-avoidant students will be evident in a classroom. Educators should keep abreast of factors that lead drive and attribution among

17 their students. Students that are motivated to learn will be successful in achievement and be able to meet academic goals. Failure-avoidant students need to participate in activities that will help them gain confidence in their abilities and slowly change them into success- oriented students. Self-Worth Theory Self-worth as described by Covington (1992), is when individuals are thought to be only as worthy as their accomplishments. Self-acceptance is an important status in one’s culture (Marzano, 2003). In a classroom, students easily confuse their ability with worth. Insecure students’ self-worth is hindered within a class. Poor performance of low achieving students produces the feeling of not being capable resulting in a low image of self-worth. Brophy (1998) stated that students become involved with protecting their self- worth. Students, regardless to their motivational level, may concentrate on performance goals rather than on learning goals as they reach the age of social comparison. Specifically, adolescents become more concerned with how their peers accept them and protect their self-worth. For example, some students will demonstrate qualities of learned helplessness if it will protect their status in a learning environment. Other students will act overly confident and try to divert the teacher from keeping students focused on learning goals. Brophy (1998) suspected that students are concerned with self- worth pretend to be confident in order to protect their image. Typically, learning successes are neglected when self-worth protection is obvious in a classroom. Therefore, teachers must find techniques to bring the focus from performance goals to learning goals. Researchers, such as Brophy (1998) and Covington (1992),

Full document contains 88 pages
Abstract:   Maintaining motivation within a learning environment is a task that many middle school educators face. The conceptual framework for this study incorporated components of motivation and choice theory. The purpose of this study was to investigate student choice as a motivational strategy included in instruction to affect academic achievement among middle school students. A quantitative quasi-experimental nonequivalent control-group design was utilized to investigate whether or not there a significant difference in students' academic achievement with the presence of student choice as a motivational strategy. The sample consisted of 91 students. The researcher collected data and triangulated the study by having the students complete a pretest/posttest. A survey was included to gauge the participants' attitudes toward learning and motivation. An Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) was utilized to determine whether or not there was a significant difference between the data from the pretest and posttest. The pretest, posttest, and surveys were analyzed using descriptive statistics. The data from the ANCOVA revealed that there was no significant difference between students' academic achievement with the presence of student choice as a motivational strategy. Survey data established that the participants became motivated when given opportunities for choice. Based on the data from this study, additional research is needed to locate instructional strategies that motivate middle school students. This study can influence positive social change as it may impact student achievement. Providing a learning environment that includes student perceptions toward learning would be beneficial in building a successful learning experience. Thus, involvement of students in their learning will assist them to apply themselves to determining goals, making quality choices, and playing an active role in a society of knowledge.