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Understanding Motivational Structures That Differentially Predict Engagement And Achievement In Middle School Science

Abstract

"Middle school has been documented as the period in which a drop in students' science interest and achievement occurs. This trend indicates a lack of motivation for learning science; however, little is known about how different aspects of motivation interact with student engagement and science learning outcomes. This study examines the relationships among motivational factors, engagement, and achievement in middle school science (grades 6-8). Data were obtained from middle school students in the United States (N=2094). The theoretical relationships among motivational constructs, including self-efficacy, and three types of goal orientations (mastery, performance approach, and performance avoid) were tested. The results showed that motivation is best modeled as distinct intrinsic and extrinsic factors; lending evidence that external, performance based goal orientations factor separately from self-efficacy and an internal, mastery based goal orientation. Second, a model was tested to examine how engagement mediated the relationships between intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors and science achievement. Engagement mediated the relationship between intrinsic motivation and science achievement, whereas extrinsic motivation had no relationship with engagement and science achievement. Implications for how classroom practice and educational policy emphasize different student motivations, and in turn, can support or hinder students science learning are discussed."

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