Students' motivation to attend PSE can have big impact on their academic success, study finds

April 25, 2013

Asking new students in a more formal way why they decided to attend PSE might help institutions find measures to encourage more students to complete their programs, according to new US research. The study found that students motivated by a desire for autonomy and competence tended to receive higher marks and show a greater likelihood of persistence than did other students.The study focuses on "self-determination theory," in which the reasons students pursue PSE could affect their chances of success. In several cases, researchers found that the impact of different motivations varied by socioeconomic groups. For example, wealthier students seemed more likely than their low-income peers to achieve success based on their interest in studying certain subject areas. It's not that low-income students don't want to study particular subjects, but their motivation for attending college may be more related to a desire to improve their financial situation, and that had a strong impact on their success. One of the researchers says this finding suggests that those advising low-income students should be encouraged to reinforce -- for those who strongly prioritize economic advancement -- the relationship between their studies and their later likely economic success. Inside Higher Ed