The effect of learning environment factors on students' motivation and learning
Hanrahan, Mary U. (1998) The effect of learning environment factors on students' motivation and learning. International Journal of Science Education, 20(6), pp. 737-753.
This paper reports a qualitative study of the learning environment of a Year 11 Biology class. The research was originally framed in a constructivist epistemology, but was also informed by an emancipatory interest. The main methods used for data gathering were participant observation, interviewing, and a written response survey (CES, Tobin, 1993a). It was found that, even though the students viewed the class positively, and described themselves as highly motivated to learn, the level of cognitive engagement was affected by two interrelated factors: the control the teacher had over almost all activities, and student beliefs about learning in this context. The data suggests that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation which could lead to deep involvement in learning are constrained by a preponderance of teacher-centred methods of instruction. A model is proposed relating intrinsic and extrinsic interest to cognitive engagement. It is concluded that more activities should be used which either implicitly or explicitly reinforce positive beliefs about the need for self-direction in learning. A personal perspective has been included in this paper to indicate the non-linearity of the development of theory.
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