Factors that Affect Student Motivation in Organic Chemistry: Measuring Correlations to Gauge Student Attitudes

Motivation is the personal investment that an individual has reaching a desired state or outcome. In learning, motivation influences the direction, intensity, persistence, and quality of learning behaviors in which students engage. To measure the motivation of  students  enrolled  in  undergraduate  organic chemistry courses, a survey was developed to gauge student attitudes about the course value, self-efficacy,  and  class environment. The survey consisted of twelve statements to which respondents indicated agreement through a seven point Likert response scale. Since course value, self-efficacy, and a supportive class environment are all purported to be necessary factors to positively motivate students,  pairwise  correlations  between  the  student  responses  were  measured  and  assessed.  Although correlation was generally found in responses to statements pertaining to a specific factor, the lack of correlation between these three factors indicates that individual students probably did not perceive all three factors to be present simultaneously. This may contribute to students’ non-optimal performance despite  generally  positive responses to  individual  statements.  Despite responses that indicate all three factors purportedly required for motivation are present in organic chemistry classes, no correlation between the three is evidenced upon statistical analysis. The low correlation of several statements with other statements reveals that students have an overall low perception of the role of science classes and organic chemistry in their education.

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