Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours


School of Education


Faculty of Education

First Supervisor

Kevin Barry


Many Western Australian Economics teachers have voiced concern with the level of motivation of students studying Economics and the apparent decline in the number of students in secondary institutions choosing Economics as an upper school subject (Lewis & Norris, 1996). A need therefore seems to exist for data about secondary students' thoughts and feelings towards Economics. This exploratory study aimed to investigate and describe student perceptions, motivational orientations and cognitive engagement, as experienced by Year 11 Economic students when studying the Economic Framework unit. This unit is the only compulsory unit in Year 11 Economics and is typically associated with motivational problems. Due to the interpretive nature of the research, data were derived incorporating mainly qualitative techniques. A case study approach was used to examine the perceptions, motivational orientations and cognitive engagement of four students. The main sources of data were questionnaires, a lesson observation, semi-structured interviews and teacher lesson plans, records and reports. In general the student perceptions of the Economic Framework unit were wide ranging and complex and included perceptions of previous experience, self and course content, instructional practices and task value. There appeared to be some reasonably well defined associations between these perceptions and student motivational orientations and cognitive engagement. The findings provide Economics teachers, the Secondary Education Authority and other Curriculum developers, with valuable feedback, which could be used to improve the quality of learning in Economics and therefore, encourage healthy student motivation and cognition.