Students' motivation to learn, academic achievement, and academic advising

Henning, Marcus A
Fraser, Chris
Gibbs, Colin
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

Numerous models of academic advising address the complex nature of student retention and attrition. Most tend to ignore the subtleties of implementing motivational and self-regulatory changes associated with academic advising. This present study investigates the learning experiences of university students and their use of academic advising. The research incorporates an educational model as its primary investigative lens, namely Hirsch's (2001) multiple intervention model. The study further examined critical areas of learning and advising, specifically motivation, self-regulation, academic difficulty, and academic achievement.This research was conducted at a New Zealand university and comprised of three studies. In the first study, 14 participants were interviewed about their academic problems, readiness for study and use of learning and study strategies. In the second, a total of 317 participants completed a demographic survey and two questionnaires measuring aspects of motivation and self-regulation. In the third study, 147 participants completed follow-up self-report questionnaires. The mixed-paradigm analyses were twofold. Study 1 utilised a meaning-centred approach to classifying and understanding the interview responses. Studies 2 and 3 incorporated multivariate and categorical statistical procedures.Interview narratives from Study 1 suggested that students experiencing academic difficulty tended to voice more problems, to be less ready for study and to be more avoidance oriented than students not experiencing academic difficulty. In Study 2 students indicating low motivation levels for study had more self-perceived problems in the areas of concentration, self-monitoring, use of educational materials and developing time management than students with higher motivation levels. In addition, students with academic difficulty appeared to have more problems with motivation and use of study material than students with no evidence of academic difficulty. Students' motivation levels tended to vary over time indicating that students may perceive their rationale for study as an unfixed or malleable entity. Student attitude at the beginning of the academic semester significantly predicted grade outcome. Motivation and self-regulation response measures obtained immediately prior to the examination period, however, were unable to predict end-of-semester grade averages. In Study 3 completion of short group-based study skills programmes appears to have a link with end of semester grade average, but there were no significant shifts in measures of motivation and self-regulation. Students accessing one-to-one academic advising services were usually students with higher levels of motivation for study. The use of one-to-one academic counselling, however, was not determined by academic difficulty.Overall, the studies contribute a systematic and integrative process of investigating the area of academic advising. The research highlights the importance of goal orientations and students' initial perceptions about the value of their course of study in relation to academic achievement and in reference to the seeking of academic assistance from academic advising services. The findings suggest that although Hirsch's (2001) model provides a valuable framework to investigate ways students study and learn, it requires additional refinement especially in areas of categorisation and application before it can be confidently endorsed. The findings also indicate that academic advisory services provide a valuable service for students in terms of academic achievement, but further research is required in the areas of cultivating motivation and self-regulation changes, and especially in the area of affect development. Finally, the study confirms the worth of mixed-paradigm research and the need for more in depth research in the multifaceted world of academic advising.

Motivation , Higher education , Self-regulation , Academic advising
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