By Dr Kee Ying Hwa, Physical Education and Sports Science Academic Group
A total of 238 students from twelve classes and four teachers participated in a collaborative school-based intervention project which was conducted in 2010 between Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) and NIE's Motivation in Educational Research Laboratory (MERL). The aim of the project was to help teachers enhance the motivation and self-regulation strategies of their students.
After analysing the initial grades, motivational, and learning strategy profiles of the students, the teachers were updated on their students' profiles. Strategies for enhancing students' motivation and self-regulation were also shared. The team from MERL carried out an intervention programme which involved observing, discussing, and facilitating the implementation of practical strategies drawn from prominent motivational theories such as the 'Self-Determination Theory' and the 'Achievement Goals Theory'. The intervention programme focused mainly on creating an autonomy-supportive climate as results suggest that it is the most dominant predictor of students' self-efficacy, self-regulation, cognitive strategies, intrinsic value of their studies, and anxiety.
The teachers continued to implement the newly acquired motivation strategies in their classrooms for a few months before a second assessment of students' profiles. The results showed that a) students improved significantly in terms of their exam scores; b) there was an increase in students' self-efficacy, autonomy-support, and enjoyment across two time-points; and c) motivational and self-regulated learning strategies were strong predictors of academic performance.
In conclusion, the collaborative project has been beneficial to both HCI and MERL. The following are testimonies from the teachers who were on this project.
"MERL gives me a framework to relate with my students better. The survey results are invaluable source of data to validate my own assessment of the motivational level
of students. It gives me great confidence in cases that concurs with my assessment, and caused me to relook at my assessment when it disagrees."
- Dr Lim Jit Ning (Physics teacher)
"The feedback given by the researchers who sat into our classes provided us with insights on how we can improve our lessons in terms of engaging and motivating our students. Besides focusing on the content delivery, we are also more aware of the need to cater to their emotional needs during lesson."
- Ms Liew Pei Chin (Chemistry teacher)
"The project carried out with HCI students was very relevant as it showed clearly that even in a premier school like HCI, there are students with motivational issues. This awareness helped the teachers to adjust his or her teaching style and carried out some remediation actions to help students with their 3 basic needs. Where the right approach was taken, there was an obvious improvement in the students' motivational profile and the students reported positive feeling towards learning. Thank you for helping us with this study."
- Mrs Tham-Kee Yong Huang (Chemistry teacher)
"My biggest take away from this project is to learn about this principle of motivation called 'autonomy-supportive' teaching. In essence, it is about intrinsic motivation. Often times, teachers, especially those with many years of experience like me, tend to be too "controlling". It is good to relook at what and how we want to teach, and what and how students want to learn and find ways to bring both into alignment so that authentic learning can take place. That more or less sums up the essence of what autonomy-supportive teaching is about and I am still learning."
- Mr Andrew Tan (Economics teacher)