Motivating the Academically Unmotivated: The Why's and the How's

Project Number
OER 21/12 WCK

Project Duration
August 2012 - March 2017


Three major theories in the achievement motivation literature are Dweck's (1999) self-beliefs about intelligence, Nicholls' (1989) achievement goal theory, and Deci and Ryan's (1985) self-determination theory. The present research seeks to integrate these theories to construct an integrated framework to understand and enhance the level of learning engagement and academic performance, particularly among students who are currently disinterested in schoolwork and academic pursuits. The framework will provide answers on why (the causes) and how (the underlying mechanisms) students are motivated or unmotivated to pursue academic excellence and the results of the research will offer concrete theory-driven and evidence-based intervention suggestions on the educational practices that will motivate the unmotivated in Singaporean classrooms. Despite the rapid changes in the socioeconomic landscape of Singapore, education of the next generation remains to be the only means for the nation to sustain its prosperity. The quality of Singapore's workforce remains to be the most treasurable resource of the nation.The present project will identify concrete practices teachers can adopt to inspire and re-invorgate the academically disengaged students. By managing students' self-beliefs and achievement goals, teachers can transform the passive and academically disinterested students in the classroom into active, self-directed learners. From this perspective, the proposed project is of critical value to the nation's growth. The project examines the impact of self beliefs about intelligence and achievement goals on learning motivation and academic performance. We will also identify the educational practices that support adaptive self-beliefs and achievement goals. The findings of the project form the empirical basis for a set of evidence-based recommendations to the schools on how to manage student motivation. Our findings may also inspire an intervention programme as a follow up study to improve student motivation. This project will also contribute to theory development by integrating major theories of student motivation in the literature.

Research Themes
Applied Cognitive Development & Motivational Studies

Funding Source

Related Links
SingTeach Issue 48 (2014): Motivated from Within
NIE Research Briefs No. 16-010: The Power of Beliefs in Impacting Motivation: Motivating the Academically Unmotivated

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