A systems approach to students' motivation and academic achievement

  • Geoffrey H. Hughes

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This research followed earlier work (reported in a thesis presented in 1970) on factors associated with the academic performance of a sample of technical college students, which recommended the further study of students' motivation. The technical college then became part of a polytechnic, but the courses chosen for the continuation of the research were all of a specifically vocational character.
The approach was influenced by Angyal (1941) in seeking to relate symbolic processes to broader behaviour patterns within a systems framework. Forms of semantic differential were developed to obtain the students' responses to words representing various activities and various people both within and outside the academic environment. Also, a "!growth motivation questionnaire" was
produced using ideas from self-actualisation, job satisfaction and expectancy theory and examination marks were recorded.
From pre-coded responses to the growth motivation questionnaire, scores on a 'study satisfaction' factor were calculated, and subsamples of students were taken at the extremes of this scale. Wriitten responses from the same questionnaire and semantic differential factor scores showed contrasting patterns between the two subsamples. Interpretation of these patterns suggested a diversity of approach to academic work among the students which calls for greater flexibility in the educational system serving them.
Date of AwardApr 1975
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorEthel Venables (Supervisor)


  • students' motivation
  • academic achievement

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