Date of Award

1994

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Adelma Hills

Abstract

Research in the area of future time perspective has suggested that academic motivation is associated with the perceived instrumentality of academic pursuits, and affective attitude toward personal future (Van Calster, Lens & Nuttin, 1987). Motivation tends to be higher when perceived instrumentality is high, but only when one has a positive attitude toward personal future. The present study tested these findings in regard to motivation toward mathematics in a sample of 119 13- year-old high school girls. Main effects for affective attitude and perceived instrumentality on motivation were found. Students who had a positive affective attitude were more motivated than students who had a neutral or negative affective attitude. Students who had high perceived instrumentality were more motivated than students with low perceived instrumentality. The hypothesised interaction between the two independent variables on motivation was not supported. At the same time an experiment was conducted to test the effect of an increase in perceive instrumentality on motivation. The participants in an experimental group read a mock newspaper article and viewed a video, both of which emphasised the importance of mathematics for future career success. Using planned comparisons it was predicted that students with a positive affective attitude would be more motivated after the manipulation, while the students with a negative or neutral affective attitude would report no change in motivation. It was also predicted that students in a control group would not experience a change in motivation. The hypothesised increase in motivation for the students in the experimental group with a positive affective attitude was not supported. Manipulation checks indicated that the experimental manipulation had not been successful in increasing perceived instrumentality. The main implication for educators from this study, is that students' affective attitude toward personal future is an important factor to consider when trying to increase high school girls' motivation toward mathematics. Directions for future research and other practical implications are discussed.

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