A Look at Student Motivation towards management studies

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When examining the motivation of students towards management studies there are two key theories that I will be looking at. The first is Herzbergs two-factor theory which outlines the sets of needs within students (the need to avoid pain and the need for psychological growth), the second theory to be considered is that of Andragogy, this is quite a specific theory surrounding motivation to learn in adults but I believe that this is an important area to look at because of the increase in mature students. (UCAS)

Herzberg's two factor theory has evolved from Maslow's need hierarchy, and still uses the terms hygiene factors, and motivation factors but in a slightly different context to that used by Maslow. Hygiene factors are described as necessary to ensure that an employee is not dissatisfied, without hygiene factors there is likely to be dissatisfaction however, the presence of hygiene factors will not lead to higher levels of motivation, 'These factors cannot stimulate psychological growth or human development; instead they are necessary for maintenance and influence the extent of a person's discontent.' (Nelson & Quick:78) Some examples of Hygiene factors in the student context could include Institutional policy and administration, supervision or working conditions. Motivation factors encourage a person to perform well but without them there is not necessarily dissatisfaction. Motivation factors could include recognition of achievement or the nature of the work itself amongst other things. When considering both Hygiene and Motivation factors it is important to recognise that they are all external influences.

The second theory is Andragogy which suggests that adults and children learn differently, there is currently an influx of mature students and these students will have gone to university for different reasons and therefore be motivated in different ways. Andragogy is based upon six core principles as outlined by Knowles, Holton and Swanson (2005:64) which are that adults need to know the reason for learning something before being able to learn it, they are aware that they are responsible for their own decisions and as such will resist instances where they feel that others (including lectures) are imposing their wills upon them, the need to tap into the adults experience by using experiential techniques such as group discussions or case studies, the adults readiness to learn which often stems from education being a necessity of progression, an adults orientation to learning which examines that adults are motivated to learn when they believe the knowledge will help them deal with real life situations which is otherwise known as task-centred learning, and finally an adults internal motivation such as the desire for self esteem or better quality of life. Whilst this theory appears to look more at how and why adults learn and less on motivation, Stephen Pew carefully points out

'when pedagogical methods and practices are applied in whole or in part to situations that require andragogical dynamics. A misunderstanding or misapplication of these critical issues may result in situational, temporary, or unsustainable models of motivation that guide lifelong learners and perhaps undermine the entire process of student motivation.'

(Pew 2007 p.14)

If we look now to relate these concepts to studying management, how are we able to better motivate a student? Well looking first at Herzberg's two factor theory we need to look at the external influences, first satisfying the hygiene factors to prevent dissatisfaction and secondly to satisfy the motivation factors to achieve student motivation. Whilst Herzberg's theory was created for use in the workplace we are still able to transfer the principles into an academic setting. Perhaps the most effective way of identifying hygiene factors in an empirical context is to survey students on how they feel about all hygiene factors that were listed by Herzberg and then react upon the most popular answer first, this would also be an effective way on gaining feedback of motivation factors, asking students to rate how they feel achievement is recognised and how varied they feel the work within the management degree is. One study involving students that has already been undertaken using Herzberg's theory was done by Amir and Krausz (1974:211) which also conducted survey based questioning of students and determined that amongst the top voted hygiene factors were Student-Faculty relationships and division of load amongst courses, amongst the motivation factors the highest rated were job opportunities (representing growth) and the level of courses taught by assistants but of course these factors would vary depending on the institution.

If we look now at how we can apply the theory behind Andragogy into an empirical context, we have already looked at the six core principles surrounding the topic but in an instance where an adult has already returned to education I believe that three of these principles have already been fulfilled by the student, namely readiness to learn, orientation to learning and internal motivation. If an adult learner has returned to full time education then they have made a conscious decision to do so, they have already demonstrated a readiness to learn and the internal motivation to pursue full time education as many adult learners will have given up salaries to attend university in search of better prospects. So for the purposes of motivating existing mature management students we should focus on the students needing to know the reason for learning, the learners self concept and the role of the learners experience. (Knowles, Holton et al 2005:64)

Perhaps a keys to adult learning is the use of experiential techniques, as is pointed out 'the richest resources for learning reside in the adult learners themselves' (Knowles, Holten et al 2005) so perhaps the answer is that the university should better utilise group discussions and case methods instead of the majority of contact time being lectures. By using experiential techniques with adult learners then all of the six core principles surrounding Andragogy would be satisfied and adult learners more motivated to learn subject matter and more likely to retain information.

From analysis of both of these theories I conclude that whilst Herzberg's two factor theory will usually identify hygiene and motivation factors amongst the majority of learners, it is also important to look critically at the methods used for teaching minority groups in this instance, adult learners. It is widely recognised that a significant flaw in Herzberg's theory is that it does not take any account of individual differences such as age, by combining these two theories it would be possible to motivate students of all ages.

Theories of Leadership

To enable us to explore what advice could be given to a student that aspires to be the leader of a student club or society I will be several different theories of leadership, Behavioural theories which explores how leaders behave and then moving on to Inspirational leadership which will look at transactional and transformational leadership as well as inspiring followers and finally looking briefly at emotional intelligence which looks more at recognising and managing emotions in oneself and others.

Behavioural theories suggest that leaders can be educated in how to behave as opposed to being 'born leaders' which is more suggested by trait theory. Behavioural theory states that if we examine the behaviour that successful leaders demonstrate we are able to imitate this behaviour to be a successful leader. Although three key styles of leadership were identified by Lewin, Lippitt and White (1939) as Autocratic, Democratic and Laissez-faire styles I believe that placing a style of leadership under the rigidness of a title does not suit leadership today, other studies also came up with such titles as Initiating structure which focus on creating structure and organisation, and consideration which defines behaviour that encourages co-operative behaviour and healthy psychological working conditions. (Halpin and Winer 1957)

These two behaviours were eventually integrated into Blake and Moutons Leadership Grid which shows a variety of different styles of leadership based upon the level of concern for results and the level of concern for people displayed by the leader, the best style of leadership that the grid can display is that of a 'Team Manager' who demonstrates both a high level of concern for people and a high level of concern for results.

Transformational leadership is about inspiring followers, or to coin an old phrase, lighting fires within people instead of under them. This is in contrast to transactional leaders who will use a combination of reward and punishment to motivate followers, reward and punishment is contingent upon success or failure. Transformational leadership can be broken down into four different elements: Charisma, individualised consideration, inspirational motivation and intellectual stimulation. (Nelson and Quick 2010) Charisma describes the ability of a leader to use their personality to get followers to commit to their ideas, charismatic leaders will use their charisma to charm followers and direct workflow through belief in an idea. Individualised consideration is where a leader develops the skills of their followers by tailoring work around the individuals and becoming a mentor to each individual creating growth and development and as a result 'improves the quality and effectiveness of the whole team in a sustainable way'. (Shilling and Schilling:2008) Inspirational motivation looks at creating enthusiasm and vision for followers, and intellectual stimulation is encouraging innovation and creativity amongst followers.

Intellectual intelligence ties in closely to transformational leadership and is briefly described as 'The thoughts and feelings behind peoples actions, which guide their response patterns in different situations'. (Diggins 2004) Emotional intelligence also looks closely at leaders managing their own emotions through self awareness and how emotions have impact upon how they make decisions.

If we now look to transfer these theories to the empirical context and first look at behavioural theory, ideally a student who aspired to be the leader of a society or club would want to have equally high concern for results as their concern for people, the advice that could be given based upon this theory is that an effective leader motivates followers through genuine concern and flexibility, because of this high concern for people then followers will be highly motivated and through direction of a leader can accomplish high quality results. The best advice that can be given from this theory would have to be to recognize both the importance of the people within the club as well as the results that the club would achieve, with a high concern for both people and results then they would be a very effective leader and would ensure co-operative working within the group.

Transformational leadership is an area that is difficult to give one single piece of advice to someone who aspires to be a leader but perhaps the best way of looking at the leadership style that can be adopted is by following the four different elements of a transformations leader as detailed above: Charisma, individualised consideration, inspirational motivation and intellectual stimulation. Unfortunately, as Nelson and Quick (2010) point out, 'charismatic leadership falls to those who are chosen (or born with the "gift" of charisma) or who cultivate that gift', this is contradicted by Conger (1999) who suggests that instead of a leader being born with charisma, it is more based upon the followers perception of the leader, he goes on to say 'what distinguishes charismatic from non-charismatic leaders is the charismatic leaders' ability to actively search out existing or potential shortcomings in the status quo' (Conger 1999), with this in mind the best advice that could be given to the student would be to firstly assess the abilities and needs of the group and to address these first. Once the aspiring student has become the leader of the club or society they can then go about looking at the other 3 aspects of transformation leadership concerned more with the individual growth and inspiration of the followers.

Now briefly looking at Emotional intelligence we should clarify the definitions of Intrapersonal and Interpersonal intelligence. Intrapersonal intelligence is the understanding and management of one's own emotions whilst Interpersonal intelligence is the understanding of emotion in others. The first step to developing Emotional Intelligence (EI) is by gaining feedback from others, a good method of achieving this is by conducting '360° Feedback' which is a process of gaining feedback from multiple sources and being able to build a thorough understanding of intrapersonal strengths and weaknesses. Once the student has gained a better understanding of their own emotions they are far more likely to become a role model to others in the group which would immediately help them to solidify informal leadership of the group even if they are still aspiring to become the formal leader.

UCAS, http://www.ucas.ac.uk/about_us/media_enquiries/media_releases/2010/160710, Accessed 26/11/10

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