Introduction to the independent study analysis

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The aim of this independent study is to gain knowledge on what motivates students to learn, and if innovative incentives are linked to this motivation. The main objectives will be:-

To examine what motivates students to learn?

To gain knowledge on the innovative incentives to learn within Post 16 education? i.e. Assembly Learning Grants, Educational Maintenance Allowance.

To evaluate whether these innovative incentives work?

Literature Review

A very broad literature search was carried out in an attempt to locate every study that might meet the motivation and incentive requirements of this independent study. Electronic searches were made of educational database (OPAC) and Blackboard using key words "educational incentives and motivation".


The research methodology will be based on the qualitative analysis, i.e. on the presentation and the analysis of a series of findings retrieved by researchers in the literature (textbooks, journals). The presentation of appropriate primary sources (graphs, publication of local government statistics) will be also used in order to support the views of the literature and the personal assumptions on the particular subject of what motivates students to learn and the innovative incentives linked to the motivation.

What motivates students to learn?

Motivation plays a key role at the beginning of any teaching scenario or any classes. While a teacher designs and carries out tasks or assignments, it is always paramount keep students' motivation on a high level to produce good academic results and keep the students self belief at a high. This will then motivate students to carry out wanting to learn.

Being a teacher within the post compulsory sector one of the main pre-requisites of wanting to learn is to get the students motivated to learn. In my current role at Ysgol Ty Coch, Post 16 / Leavers department I find by motivating my students through an incentive (reward) system then this increases their thirst for knowledge and ultimately motivates the students to learn.

Improved self-concept (when reaping the rewards of learning) of motivation has often been used as a criterion of social adjustment of students when retaining students in learning. A positive self-concept is believed to be related to learning, although the direction of the cause-effect relationship is not established.

That is, a negative self-concept may in turn exacerbate deficits by leading to poor motivation and lack of confidence in one's learning ability to learn.

There are two main sources of motivation. These sources are intrinsic motivation, wanting to learn is founded and motivated by the individual wants of a student. This motivation can only be influenced by the teacher in an indirect way. Student sees the need to learn with possible effects on the life situations of themselves and extrinsic motivation: as soon as external stimuli come into play, the learning behaviour is determined by extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic learning goals cover graduation, certification, securing the own employment and career prospects, or gathering status symbols.

There are many different sources of motivation for students to learn. These sources that I have found out during the research that I have carried out are as follows:-





Many students that filled in the questionnaires during the research project have cited their family as a motivational factor in wanting to learn. This intrinsic motivation is heavily influenced by expectations from family members such as parents, siblings, partners and children to learn and gain relevant qualifications and therefore increasing their self confidence and status.

PUT IN PERCENTAGE percent of students questioned cited that getting qualified in a chosen profession was their main motivational factor. This low percentage could be down to the fact that within Britain and in particular the South Wales Valleys due to the current economic climate is in recession and the job cuts means that students are not motivated to learn as the jobs are not available out their even if they get qualified.

Overwhelmingly, the highest percentage PUT IN PERCENATGE of students main motivational factor in wanting to carry on learning within the post compulsory sector is the cash incentives that they receive from continuing with their education.

What are the incentives within Post-Compulsory Education?

There are many different incentives within post compulsory education to retain the students within education.

The Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is a discretionary financial award that was developed to support young people from low-income households who undertake full-time courses in Further Education (FE).

Do incentives work?

The strategy employed of monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the EMA on student participation and retention has been very useful, in that it has demonstrated that there has been a quantifiable improvement in both participation and retention within the Post Compulsory education sector most notably within further education colleges, which qualitative data suggests could be attributable to the introduction of the EMA.

The majority of EMA students that I interviewed did not believe that the EMA had effected their decision to attend the Leavers department after Year 11. Interview data suggests that many were unaware of the EMA before starting within the Leavers department, or that they would have gone into post 16 education regardless of any financial incentive.

However, despite the lack of influence of the EMA on initial participation in the post compulsory education, many of the EMA students interviewed believed that the EMA (requiring full attendance to receive the weekly allowance and a Leavers uniform) had had a direct effect on their attendance and participation in Leavers activities once there. This demonstrates that the EMA can be credited with increased student participation in post compulsory education.

Some of the student's statements demonstrate that students perceive the EMA to have positive effect on attendance and participation in post compulsory education and, perhaps even more interestingly, make a connection between these benefits and future academic achievement when considering taking a place at college rather than adult day services.

Triangulation of questionnaires

Two sample groups were piloted with the same questionnaire (please see appendix).

Sample Group 1:- This group consisted of NVQ Level 2 and Level 3 students that are studying catering at Coleg Morganwwg. The age ranges of this sample group are from 16-60 years old.

Sample Group 2:- This group consisted of 16 to 19 year old students that are studying OCN and City and Guilds courses at a local special educational school. All of these students all have additional learning needs ranging from Autism, Asperger's syndrome to Down's syndrome.