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Motivation And Classroom Perceptions In College

1161 words - 5 pages

Motivation and Classroom Perceptions in College
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The purpose of this study was threefold: first, to examine whether gender and ethnic differences exist in college students' (n = 402) classroom perceptions and motivation; second, to investigate how classroom perceptions impacted upon students' motivation; and third, to test whether there existed interactions between classroom perceptions, gender, and ethnicity that resulted in differential patterns of motivation. Our initial tests of group differences in motivation and classroom perceptions yielded several significant main effects for gender, but ethnicity was significant in only one instance; differences in classroom perceptions were also related to differences in motivation. We found several two-way interactions between ethnicity and classroom perceptions, but no three-way interactions emerged. These results offer further support for the idea that the lens through which students view the classroom does indeed differ according to social grouping, and that those lenses do indeed impact upon students' motivation.
Background
Increasingly, educational researchers are finding that what students think about the classroom is as important as what they do in the classroom. Students' perceptions have been found to influence personal motivation; these perceptions encompass many areas and include self-perceptions (e.g., perceived ability level, goals, interests) social perceptions (e.g., perceived ability of peers, teacher expectations and opinions), and other classroom factors (e.g., course value, environmental factors) (Schunk & Meece, 1992).
Recent work indicates that women and men may differ greatly in their classroom perceptions and educational experiences, even when they are members of the same classroom: specifically, that females tend to perceive the classroom to be "colder" than do males (Constantinople, Cornelius, & Gray, 1988; Hall and Sandler, 1982). However, subsequent studies have produced mixed results for the claim of a "chilly classroom climate" (Crawford & McLeod, 1990). Heller, Puff, and Mills (1985) found no gender differences in perceptions; however, their study concentrated on overall experiences at college, rather than focusing on specific classrooms. Crawford and McLeod (1990) narrowed the scope to individual classrooms but still did not find gender to be a strong influence on perceived classroom climate, although they did maintain that women perceive themselves to be less involved and less verbally engaged in the classroom than their male counterparts. Given the equivocality of prior research, we sought to clarify the relationship between gender and classroom perceptions.
In addition to gender, evidence exists which suggests that one's ethnicity also affects whether the classroom is perceived as cold. For instance, many practices of American public schools and universities, such as competition, challenging authority and praise for individual ability,...

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