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by Hugh B. Price
Table of Contents
Although the issue of student motivation receives scant attention from proponents of testing and tough love, the truth (at least according to many researchers) is that student motivation really does matter. So do its conceptual siblings: conscientiousness, self-confidence, self-discipline, and responsibility. Children begin life ready and willing to learn. But as they progress through the primary grades, a great many lose their natural curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. Rekindling this enthusiasm is one of the keys to improving student achievement, and the community has an essential role to play in that effort.
Persuasive links between lack of motivation and low achievement have been uncovered by a variety of researchers, including Geoffrey Schultz of Indiana University; Franzis Preckel of the University of Munich; Ericka Fisher of Holy Cross College; Donna Ford of Peabody College at Vanderbilt; Roslyn Arlin Mickelson of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; and the late John Ogbu, the noted anthropologist. Studies of minority children generally indicate that those who are more motivated to achieve perform better academically than those who are less motivated (Schultz, 1993). Why is this so? Research suggests that students who believe they will be successful engage in more metacognition, use more effective cognitive strategies, persist on tasks longer, expend more effort, and, therefore, perform better academically than those who are less motivated and confident (Schultz, 1993).
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