Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy

Department

Education Leadership, Management and Policy

Advisor

Joseph Stetar

Committee Member

Rebecca Cox

Committee Member

Carl Schavio

Keywords

Learning, Psychology of, College student orientation, Achievement motivation, Learning strategies

Abstract

The primary objective of this mixed methods study was to explore the parameters of college students' perspectives on classroom learning environments. Specifically, the investigation sought to identify and describe the relevant features of the college classroom context that undergraduate students distinguished as promoting and supporting academic motivation at one four-year postsecondary institution. Secondarily, the study sought to examine the extent to which there was an association between the achievement goals students endorsed and their perspectives concerning the motivating features of the classroom learning environment. The nonprobability purposeful sample of undergraduate students consisted of 122 preservice teachers who were attending a small, private four­ year East Coast university. A questionnaire containing 12 likert-type items and two open-ended questions was administered during the tenth and eleventh weeks of the Fall 2006 semester. Respondents' personally endorsed achievement goals were computed by scoring their responses to the likert-type items. Reponses to the open-ended questions were coded and categorized to reveal the features of the classroom learning environment that preservice teachers viewed as having the greatest positive and negative influence on their level of academic motivation. A total of eleven thematic categories emerged from the inductive analysis of preservice teachers' responses to the two open-ended survey questions. Analysis of responses to the achievement goals measures revealed that preservice teachers pursued mastery-approach goals the most, followed by performance­ approach goals, then followed by mastery-avoidance goals. Preservice teachers reported pursuing performance-avoidance goals the least. The series of Pearson chi-square analyses undertaken to examine the association between preservice teachers' adopted achievement goals and their perspectives on the motivating features of the college classroom revealed that, with two exceptions, there were no significant relationships among these variables.

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