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This study shall talk about the importance of using motivational tools and techniques to enhance the learning process of students within the context of a classroom environment. The concept of motivation has been widely discussed in scholarly literature not only in relation to the education, but also to keeping job satisfaction levels in corporate organizations. In this paper, the researcher shall explore the possibilities, significance, and ways of motivating students to gain more from their learning experience.
As we shall see in the course of this paper, for motivation to be effective, it has to be provided not only by the teacher but also by the students' parents because these two are partners in the rearing and education of children. Ndahayo and Gaikwad (2004) says that education is a dynamic process that is influenced by three main factors-parents, teachers and the community-such that cooperation and coordination of roles is needed to further the children's learning. Therefore, motivation should come from all three quarters so that the student will have a continuous source of driving factors that will allow him or her to maximize the learning experience.
In this paper we shall see the importance of motivation and self-regulation in specific contexts, such as the environment of foreign language or L2 learning and in the special education classroom, wherein the students are learning a comprehensive set of new skills and competencies that are necessary for daily activities. The purpose of the research is the investigation of the practices employed by teachers in particular to develop in their students self-regulatory and motivational methods that will assist them in performing well in school.
On the other hand, the researcher is also going to look at the idea of self-regulation as being an essential part of the excellent academic performance of a student. Matuga (2009) defines self-regulation as "the ability of students to plan, monitor, and evaluate their own behavior, cognition and learning strategies."
However, self-regulation is only one side of the coin, because the student ultimately has to be taught or motivated to use these strategies in the most effective manner possible-the and by effective we mean their positive proportional impact on the academic performance of students. Therefore, both motivation and self regulation have to be tapped in order for the student to achieve peak performance in school and for him to make the most out of his learning experience. These two factors are tightly-woven together and are equally influential in student learning and cognition.
Another concept that the researcher would like to look into is the extent to which self-efficacy can help motivate the student to learn more effectively and show better academic performance. Ergul (2004) defines self-efficacy as the learner's expectancy in his or her ability to organize and execute the necessary steps and behaviours for him to finish a task successfully. Motivation will ultimately touch upon the self-efficacy of the individual learner because it reflects the level of confidence and aptitude that the learner has in himself, which then drives him to actually complete and actualize a pre-existing academic goal, say a high score in the final exams.
The researcher thus proposes to answer this research question: how are students in an online college course motivated to learn, given the peculiarities of their new learning environment and he opportunities presented by ICT tools at their disposal? To be able to understand the twin phenomena of self-regulation and motivational methods, the researcher has to look into how a teacher encourages the students to learn in ways that may be dubbed unconventional or not strictly academic, such as by means of information and communication technology tools (ICTs) or other methods.
The ideas of motivation and self regulation shall be thoroughly discussed in the subsequent section in order to see exactly how their interplay can affect the academic performance of students and their ability to gain more from the learning experience. Other concepts that are also intertwined with the goal of improved academic performance are also discussed corollarily, such as goal orientation and self-efficacy.
Studies of this type can be interpreted in two ways-the researcher could look at the motivational strategies either from the point of view of the teacher or of the learner himself. For this particular study, the researcher has chosen to concentrate on the subjective perceptions made by the college-level students currently enrolled in an online course, instead of taking the viewpoint of their teachers.
This is so because the researcher believes that given the new environment of an online class, the students' views must be taken into consideration above everything else in order for the teachers to adapt their current teaching styles and practices to the actual needs and requirements of the students. Moreover, this type of classroom does not involve face-to-face communication and there is presumably less need for the students to actually participate in class discussions. With these peculiarities in mind, the researcher wishes to explore the as yet uncharted area of online learning environments as a new contribution to the current literature on self-regulatory and motivational studies.
Review of related literature
This part of the paper will deal with the various sub-concepts that make up the bigger picture of the current trends and techniques in helping students to learn better and more effectively, especially as these are reflected in motivational studies. As we have already seen, education is becoming more and more dynamic thanks to the development of new learning tools and styles, as well as the improvement in terms of appreciating the active participation of students as agents in the learning process.
The nature of the research makes it important to have a clear background on the history and development of educational techniques and methods, most especially as these relate to improved academic performance of students. A preliminary survey of the literature will show that students are not simply passive learners who are subject of a learning process that is one way-that is, from the teacher to the entire class-because of the fact that they have an idea or a set of predetermine goals that serve as guideposts for their further learning.
Moreover, knowing how motivational and self-regulatory methods have evolved over time within particular educational settings would also enable the researcher to look into the possibility of adapting these methods in a different classroom environment by simply adjusting how they are presented, inculcated and rewarded in the students.
A synthesis of all the relevant scholarly materials relating to the topic is therefore useful in pinpointing some of the more common considerations and questions addressed by previous researchers. Because of the bird's eye view offered by this section, it is hoped that a broad familiarity with the topic will be achieved. Moreover, the researcher is also able to present the topic in its societal context through a comprehensive survey of the literature, thus avoiding the tendency to isolate the research question into a sphere of its own.
Finally, the literature review serves to identify the current trends and relevant conclusions that have already been arrived at in previous research. Knowing what previous scholars have found out about the topic makes it easier for the researcher not only to situate the current study but also to pinpoint possible gaps in the literature, and to look for the with the best ways with which to approach such gaps.
This paper will use the systematic review methodology as the primary tool for investigating the history, development, and current status organizational success vis-à-vis the need for good leadership in the organization. The systematic review methodology has been traditionally used on primary data about health care technologies such as drugs, devices and surgical interventions (Green and Moehr 2001).
However, there is already a trend among researchers to use this review methodology on other topics such as policy-making and social research. The Cochrane Collaboration was the first to implement the systematic review methodology to actually collate huge amounts of data that are put together in a regularly updated collection of evidence-based medicine databases. This kind of methodology affords the researcher more depth by allowing him to check on the previous findings made by other scholars and synthesizing them to create a map of where the current knowledge on the topic at hand lies.
Despite the usefulness of the methodology, care should be made in choosing the right electronic sources that can offer us with the most number of relevant researches, as well as in establishing the key words that will be used exhaustively for turning up previous findings on the topic.
For the purpose of this paper, several key words were used to search Google, Questia and other suitable online sources for information on the current trends in. The keywords used for the research are motivation and academic performance, motivational psychology, self regulation and academic performance and self regulation and motivational techniques. Other formulations of the main research topic yielded the same results and so only these four key phrases were considered for this section of the paper.
The review of related literature shall be divided into three parts. The first subcategory shall deal with describing the current trends in education today, especially when viewed in relation to the rapid developments in modern technology that has enabled students to become more self-sufficient in their study habits and learning experiences. The next subcategory will focus on the importance of self-regulatory and motivational measures in improving the academic performance of a student. Finally, the researcher will look at the theoretical and conceptual foundations of the current undertaking in order to ground the study in previous research more effectively.
The changing landscape of the classroom
The rapid advances in information and communication technologies has paved the way for scholars and educators alike to develop new ways of determining how they can use these tools in furtherance of the learning process of students. Owing to the strengthening of national information and telecommunications or ICT infrastructures around the world, the possibility of using the Internet for educational purposes has also been increased significantly.
In December 2000, there were a little over 360 million users of the Internet, but since June 2009, the number has ballooned to 1.6 billion users (Internet World Stats, 2009). The advent of modern technology has served to introduce changes not only the way children learn, but also in the dynamics between them and their parents and among their parents, teachers and the community at large.
The Internet is one of the more important technologies that have created a huge impact on the learning methods available to students today by teaching critical thinking and evaluation skills (Kiridis and Argiris, 2006). Schools cannot teach children about ICT if they do not have a computer laboratory in the premises. Even if children are already exposed to using the Internet at home, this should be complemented with proper training in the school to help them explore the learning possibilities offered by the Internet and computers in general. Motivation is now more complex than ever before, due mainly to the fact that there are a whole host of new activities and opportunities that are open for the students to explore.
ICT tools, particularly the internet, are being tapped today by educators and parents alike because of their great potential as a hands-on method for enhancing the learning of students. Perhaps the strongest and most practicable reason why teacher reliance on ICT tools has increased considerably is because of the fact that it can be used to shift the learning paradigm positively.
In other words, it serves as a context to support the learning of students by giving them another context in which to assimilate their learning. It provides a safe and controllable venue for student thinking that poses real world problems for creative solutions (Jonassen et al., 2008). The use of computers and other related technologies, if coupled with adequate teacher training and support, can help transform the learning environment that is more student-oriented (University of Virginia, n.d.).
Despite the radical evolution and the increased contribution of these new technologies to the learning process, these are still coupled with what environmental factors that help or hinder the educational progress of the child, such as the disciplinary styles employed by his or her parents. The technological tools can only go so far in terms of sparking the children's interest and giving them alternative environments in which to test their new learning, but these are just accessory to the child's personal motivation and self-efficacy.
Turner, Chandler and Heffer (2009) said that a long line of literature all pointed to the fact that parenting styles do affect the upbringing of children, from the emergence of child psychological problems to the improvement in academic performance. This is why despite the proliferation of new tools and technologies that can help children learn faster and better, basic concepts such as encouragement, nurturance and responsiveness to the child's needs are still highly significant indicators for seeing enhanced learning outcomes.
This so-called positive encouragement for the learner inside the home would have to be coupled with similar motivation in the classroom so that the learner will be driven all the more towards achieving his academic goal. As we shall see in the course of this study, motivation becomes more complex in certain learning environments, such as the foreign language classroom (especially when there are adult learners) or in this case, within the context of an online class.
Self-regulation, motivation and self-efficacy
Literature suggests that teachers and parents have to appreciate the importance of using motivational tools as well as cognitive strategies in order to boost the academic performance of students (Wolters and Pintrich 1998). The trend is educational literature today is for teachers and parents to look for ways to help the learner to become more interested in what he is studying and to allow him or her to have meaningful interactions with new knowledge.
Studies about using motivation in the learning environment are numerous and diverse, each one looking at the effectivity of motivational techniques within the context of a particular classroom or discipline. For instance, Ergul (2004) wrote that self-efficacy studies are usually done in the context of distance education. Motivational methods are also important in the context of adult English language learners or ELLs, who are arguably in a different position than young learners of the language because of the varied reasons for their wanting to join such a learning program (Graham and Walsh 2005).
Motivation can further be broken down into two kinds: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is the desire that comes from within the student, and he or she studies because he or she wants to do so (Lile, 2002). For the intrinsically motivated student, the learning materials are interesting and challenging, and he or she receives some amount of satisfaction from the successful accomplishment of the same.
On the other hand, the extrinsically motivated student learns in order to receive a reward or to avoid some kind of punishment. In children, good grades and the approval of their parents are key factors for learning motivation. However, adults are in a different position altogether, since they are learning English for very specific reasons, most specifically for career advancement.
Lile (2002) noted that the goal of all motivational development is to have an intrinsically motivated student, because without credit or feedback from the teacher, the extrinsically motivated student's will to learn is likely to decrease significantly over time. These motivations have to be encouraged by the parents and the teachers by means of rewards that correspond to the type of motivation that the student shows (Bateman and Crant, __). For example, the extrinsically motivated learner will be more likely to exert more efforts to study and do well in school by giving him or her prizes in exchange for good grades.
Other studies were more focused on the impact that self-regulation had on the satisfactory academic performance of students (Matuga 2009 and Mahyuddin 2006, among others). There really is no significant difference among studies that deal with motivation and with self-regulation because they ultimately relate to internal factors that influence the learner's ability to imbibe new knowledge by means of teaching strategies and methods that are external to him.
Their only distinction lies in the fact that the focus of the study would be the motivational strategies that influence the student's learning (whether intrinsic or extrinsic) or the self-regulatory measures (as in how the student checks whether or not he is able to learn the lessons at the desired pace and efficiency). Otherwise, most studies actually take up motivation and self-regulation as a set of factors that allow the student to do more with what he or she learns.
Theoretical framework for the study
Mousoulides and Philippou (2005) noted that social cognitive theory formed the bedrock of studies aimed at discovering the relationship between a learner's self regulation and the level of his academic performance. The idea behind self regulation was that personal, contextual and behavioural factors all had a hand in the ability of the student to develop self-regulatory measures that allow him or her to actually design and implement the necessary steps for him or her to monitor the rate and extent of his or her learning.
The key consideration here is that the learner should be equipped with a thorough understanding of his or her limits and capacities with regards to the learning process. In layman's terms, self-regulatory measures comprise the learner's ability to plan out and implement a study habit or learning style that will allow him or her to maximize the opportunities presented in the learning process.
Parental involvement especially in the early years of the child's learning experience is highly important because curiosity takes root at this time, and the student is exposed to different forms of knowledge that he or she may want to understand and acquire. It is also a significant stage for the student to develop the necessary self regulatory skills that will allow him or her to study efficiently and effectively in the future
Motivation has its roots in humanistic psychology as it was developed by Abraham Maslow (Dewey 2007) or a set of motives that drove people to do things in a certain way, as opposed to the strictly behavioural concepts forwarded by previous psychologists or even the Freudian theory that portrayed man as a slave to crude feelings. Maslow offered the idea that human beings go about life with a set of goals in mind, which serve to motivate them to do more and be more. He called this the third force in psyschology, a new concept that allowed the exploration of human fulfilment and man's search for meaning in life.
Taking these two concepts together would help the researcher to come up with a solid idea of how motivation and self-regulatory measures developed by the student work together to influence his or her academic performance. The rationale behind this study is to enable the teacher to identify intervention methods that will allow him to encourage the student to (1) come up with his or her own self-regulatory measures and (2) motivate the student to use these measures in order to boost academic performance. For this to be possible, the researcher has to determine how self-regulatory measures are arrived at, implemented and evaluated.
This part of the paper shall deal with how the data for the study shall be collected, analyzed and interpreted in line with the research objectives already stated. This section shall outline the step-by-step procedure conducted by the researcher in investigating the research problem at hand in order to provide future researchers with a guide should they decide to follow a similar course of study, as well as to determine the intrinsic validity of the gathered data and the collection method used.
This research will make use of the positivist research method as applied in a case study setting. Positivism in research is aimed at building knowledge from 'positive' information or data gathered through observable and measurable phenomenon. Positivism also seeks empirical regularities or correlations between two variables.
Moreover, a case study is defined as an empirical inquiry that looks at a contemporary phenomenon within its natural context, most especially when the difference between the phenomenon being study and the context in which it is embedded are not apparent. Case studies are reliant on multiple sources of information. It does not involve manipulation of variables, for instead of looking at the causality, case study is more focused on an in-depth analysis of the phenomenon under study and the its specific context.
Case study research is consistent with positivism because it is also aimed at testing theory through the specification of theoretical propositions and relevant testable hypotheses that are taken from an existing theory. Shanks (2002) notes that "case studies can be undertaken within a positivist or interpretivist paradigm, may be deductive or inductive, may involve single or multiple cases using literal or theoretical replication and may use qualitative and quantitative data."
For this particular study, the researcher has chosen to focus on students of online college courses and the motivational strategies that are most apparent in their kind of learning environment. The researcher shall randomly select a total of 60 students from different colleges within an urban location that offer online courses and ask them to be the respondents of the study. There is a need for the researcher to limit the type of respondents to college-level students only because of the need to gather responses that will be valid across the board.
Moreover, taking into consideration the nature of the learning environment being studied, the researcher has to get the opinion of students who are more or less capable of reflecting on their learning process and the personal strategies that they develop and implement to enable them to cope with the demands of their online course. Moreover, it is also more realistic to conduct such research on learners who are more adept at using ICT tools for their education, and this takes out the possibility of having children or young learners as respondents for the study.
The researcher will not control for any variables except for age, so that there will be a uniform number of male and female participants. Therefore, there will be no pre-selection of respondents on the basis of their particular course, race, age, employment (if any) or any other variables that may serve to confine the results of this study to a particular class of participants only. The idea is for the research to reach across a wide range of backgrounds and sectors in order to establish whether there are significant differences in the motivational tools created and implemented by student learners in an online classroom.
Data collection procedures
Matuga (2009) noted that most studies about the goal orientation and self regulation of students in relation to their academic achievement are conducted within conventional learning settings such as the classroom or in a highly-controlled laboratory environment. Newer studies, on the other hand, are actually beginning to look into the possibility of measuring and implementing these same techniques within an online learning context.
This is why the researcher wishes to address what she perceives as a gap in the current body of literature by looking into the motivational methods and self-regulatory measures as these are manifested in the Internet. Face to face and online classrooms are very different from one another, and the nature of these learning contexts warrant a distinct and more focused study of motivational techniques as these are applied in the latter.
Moreover, as we have pointed out in the earlier section, there is a marked difference in the learning styles adopted by students today because of the concurrent changes in ICT, allowing them to explore a wider world of opportunities for learning and testing their new knowledge. This in itself calls for educators to review and re-assess their existing practices about encouraging better performance in school.
The researcher will not have to develop a separate questionnaire because there is already a pre-existing set of questions that are deemed a standard in motivational research, which was adapted in relation to the current research question. There was a need to modify some of the statements in the survey form because of the different nature of online college courses and the distinct materials used for conducting the class.
The following will be a sample questionnaire that shall be administered to the respondents:
Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire*
Please rate the following items based on your behavior in this class. Your rating should be on a 7-
point scale where 1= not at all true of me to 7=very true of me .
1. I prefer class work that is challenging so I can learn new things.
2. Compared with other students in this class I expect to do well
3. I am so nervous during a test that I cannot remember facts I have learned
4. It is important for me to learn what is being taught in this class
5. I like what I am learning in this class
6. I'm certain I can understand the ideas taught in this course
7. I think I will be able to use what I learn in this class in other classes
8. I expect to do very well in this class
9. Compared with others in this class, I think I'm a good student
10. I am sure I can do an excellent job on the problems and tasks assigned for this
12. I think I will receive a good grade in this class
14. Even when I do poorly on a test I try to learn from my mistakes
15. I think that what I am learning in this class is useful for me to know
16. My study skills are excellent compared with others in this class
17. I think that what we are learning in this class is interesting
18. Compared with other students in this class I think I know a great deal about the
19. I know that I will be able to learn the material for this class
20. I worry a great deal about tests
21. When work is hard I either give up or study only the easy parts
22. When I study I put important ideas into my own words
23. I always try to understand what the teacher is saying even if it doesn't make
24. When I study for a test I try to remember as many facts as I can
25. I work on practice exercises and answer end of chapter questions even when I
don't have to
26. Even when study materials are dull and uninteresting, I keep working until I finish
27. When I study for a test I practice saying the important facts over and over to
28. Before I begin studying I think about the things I will need to do to learn
29. I use what I have learned from old homework assignments and the textbook to do
30. I often find that I have been reading for class but don't know what it is all about.
31. I find that when there is class discussion I don't really have to participate because the teacher can't see me anyway
32. When I am studying a topic, I try to make everything fit together
33. I check other online sources to fill in the gaps in my learning
34. I work hard to get a good grade even when I don't like a class
35. When reading I try to connect the things I am reading about with what I already
36. I make sure that I don't absent myself too much from the classes.
37. I maintain a high level of ethics when doing my assignments for the course.
38. My ICT skills are helping me very much in my student.
39. Learning in this kind of environment scares me.
40. I find it difficult to concentrate on the lessons because I'm online and can do other things while class is being conducted.
Majority of the results that will be generated from this study shall be quantitative in nature, most especially because the questionnaire shall be administered with a view to measuring the relative opinions that the learners have with regards to their progress within the class and the academic performance. Statistical analyses shall be employed for the researcher to determine how the learners are motivated to participate in this particular learning environment, unconventional though it may be.
Significance, research issues and limitations
As we have stated early on, the researcher shall be severely limited to one side of the problem by choosing to adopt the viewpoint of the learners in online college courses. There will be no time nor space to discuss how the teachers of these courses have formulated and designed their curricula in order to help students to stay motivated throughout the course and finally earns their diploma. There will likewise be no discussion as to how the teachers employ motivational interventions to keep the students interested and motivated in class even if there are no or very little face to face meetings between them. Time and financial constraints would also limit the researcher to doing the study within a particular
This study is highly significant because it is a timely and relevant undertaking, considering that distance education has now evolved by making use of ICT tools instead of the mail as a primary medium for resource learning. Furthermore, the rapid advances in technology are now begging for more research proceedings that will determine the extent of their usefulness within the learning environment. It is in this light that the researcher wishes to address what seems to be a very rich yet unexplored area in the body of motivational studies.