Motivation remains one of the most discussed topics as regards such aspects of the human life as the business, education, healthcare, and so on. It is also one of the topical issues analyzed by educational psychologists. Researchers have tried to understand what motivates students to start and continue their academic endeavor.
Researchers have tried to develop various strategies to motivate learners. At that, the major focus has been made on elementary and secondary education (Savage, Roy & Noussi, 2011). However, when it comes to the higher education, many people assume that students are self-motivated as they need to achieve some academic objectives to pursue their career goals.
Nonetheless, students of higher educational establishments may often be less motivated than expected. More so, they may be willing to excel in studies during their first year, but soon they lose their enthusiasm. Thus, many scholars try to trace the changes in students’ motivation throughout their studies (Müller & Palekčić, 2005).
Factors affecting students’ motivation are also analyzed in depth. These are the environment, academics and even hope (Holder, 2007). Jones (2009) notes that such factors as empowerment, success, interest and caring. Müller and Palekčić (2005) explore the correlation between motivation and autonomy, social relatedness and competence.
However, it is necessary to stress that social relatedness is still under-researched. It is seen as one of the factors and is often underestimated. At that, students often feel more motivated if they have the necessary level of connectedness. This is especially important during second and third years of studies as students’ motivation deteriorates throughout their academic experience.
First, it is necessary to define social relatedness to ensure the research’s focus and relevance. Müller and Palekčić (2005) define it as social ties and interaction within groups. In this study, social relatedness is regarded as a set of social links and interaction within various groups including connectedness to peers, social groups, and networks, as well as faculty. The quality of these ties and interaction should be considered as it can have a significant impact on students’ motivation.
It is also necessary to add that the existing research is mainly based on quantitative designs. Therefore, the voice of students is often unheard. At that, it can be effective to explore students’ views on the matter. It is important to understand whether students acknowledge the benefits of social relatedness and which connections seem important to them.
This can help educators come up with efficient strategies involving the development of social relatedness in students. The purpose of this case study is to identify the impact of social relatedness on motivation in higher education as seen by students.
To answer research questions, undergraduate students will be interviewed, and special attention will be paid to participants’ ideas on social links and their impact on their motivation. The participants will be chosen among those living on campus and having an academic score 70% or higher. They will be aged between 20 and 23 years old. The major analysis procedure will be coding.
The researcher will focus on students’ opinions concerning their social links (including peers and faculty), the development of new links and maintaining old ones, their academic achievements and motivation, the role social links play in their academic life, and the extent to which social links affect their motivation. To ensure the validity of the research, member checks will be utilized. Confidentiality and anonymity will be ensured.
Educators try to develop various methods and strategies to enhance students’ performance and their involvement. Motivation is one of the central areas of research in this respect. Researchers and practitioners have tried to develop methods and strategies to improve students’ performance through motivation.
It is noteworthy that researchers have focused on the elementary and secondary education for decades while the research as regards higher education has been rather limited (Savage et al. 2011). At that, Müller and Palekčić (2005) note that motivation in students often deteriorates, which leads to poorer performance and results. Clearly, it is necessary to look into factors affecting students’ motivation.
It has been acknowledged that several factors have an impact on students’ motivation. These factors include academics, and environment as well as such emotional elements as empowerment and caring (Jones, 2009). At the same time, Müller and Palekčić (2005) claim that social relatedness has a considerable impact on students’ motivation. The researchers stress that social links help students to remain motivated throughout their studies while those who lack connectedness tend to underperform.
However, many studies concerning motivation in higher education are quantitative while it is vital to analyze opinions of students on the matter. These insights will enable educators to develop efficient educational strategies enhancing motivation and, as a result, improving performance. The purpose of this case study is to identify the effects social relatedness have on motivation as seen by undergraduate students. The paper will also include some recommendations that can be applicable in various academic settings.
This study concentrates on undergraduate students’ views on social links and their influence on their motivation. Importantly, the recent research tends to focus on quantitative design methods. Researchers simply state that there is a correlation between motivation and social relatedness. However, there is limited information on reasons for such correlation as well as factors contributing to the development (or avoidance) of different social ties.
These data can be obtained through the implementation of the qualitative research. It is necessary to explore students’ ideas on the impact their social links have on their motivation. These insights will enable researchers to come up with efficient educational strategies aimed at maintaining students’ motivation through the development of proper social ties.
Prior to identifying the influence of social relatedness on students’ motivation, it is important to define the concepts of motivation and social relatedness since many researchers tend to see them differently. Thus, Ryan and Deci developed the concepts of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (Nukpe, 2012).
In this study, the extrinsic motivation will be in the spotlight as it is related to the sphere of social life and connectedness. Thus, extrinsic motivation is associated with the desire to gain some kind of reward (good grades, appraisal and so on).
Müller and Palekčić (2005) note that social ties refer to the interaction among individuals within a social group. However, this definition is quite incomplete. In this research, social relatedness is defined as social links established within a social group as well as with representatives of other social groups. The connectedness to peers, faculty, as well as other social groups, is taken into account. Importantly, the quality of the interaction plays a vital role as it can shape students’ motivation.
As has been mentioned above, motivation in higher education has been researched to a certain degree. Importantly, the self-determination theory (SDT) is the theoretical foundation of the majority of such studies. Ryan and Deci developed the notions of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and these concepts are widely used in educational psychology (Nukpe, 2012). Since the research concerning motivation is associated with external motivation, this concept is mainly employed.
Nukpe (2012) provides a brief analysis of the existing works on motivation. The researcher focuses on recent theoretical frameworks and particular strategies employed by educators. It is clear that researchers regard intrinsic motivation and social relatedness as the most influential factors affecting students’ performance. Nukpe (2012) also adds that the teacher has enough tools to motivate students and help them improve their academic performance.
It is noteworthy that the majority of studies utilize quantitative design and tend to focus on practical implications. Researchers are mainly interested in the correlation between motivation and students’ performance. Thus, Savage et al. (2011) state that motivated students perform much better.
The researchers also add that teachers can and should enhance their students’ academic achievements through structuring their strategies. Holder (2007) implemented a quantitative research and found that hope, environment, academics and motivation are interconnected and can predict persistence in students of online courses.
Müller and Palekčić (2005) explore the correlation between motivation and social relatedness. The researchers note that students’ motivation often deteriorates throughout their studies while social links can positively affect students’ persistence. The researchers note that the concept of social relatedness should be taken into account when developing teaching strategies.
At that, the researcher mentions the benefits of the development of certain social links among students and teachers. The researchers also stress that cultural differences should be considered as social links may be affected in the culturally diverse society.
Jones (2009) implements a valuable study aimed at presenting the MUSIC model. This model of academic motivation encompasses such notions as empowerment, usefulness, success, interest, caring. It is necessary to note that this model is closely connected with the concept of social relatedness.
The researcher provides practical advice to educators and notes that students should feel connectedness through the elements mentioned above. The major focus is made on the relationship between the teacher and the student. This is very important as many researchers tend to take into account social links within the group of students and disregard relationships with educators.
For instance, Topping (2005) concentrates on the benefits of peer learning. The researcher stresses that students develop social links that help them in their academic life. Notably, the researcher notes that students remain motivated and focused throughout the whole period of their studies.
According to Topping (2005), peer learning may also have a positive effect on intrinsic motivation as students acquire knowledge and skills that make them more effective learners. Clearly, some students still need extrinsic motivation, and social connectedness provides a variety of opportunities in this respect. Students want to get certain grades, particular rewards as well as the appraisal of their peers and educators.
It is clear that there are certain gaps in the existing research. There is the lack of attention to the way students’ feel about their social ties and motivation. At that, students voices should be heard to develop efficient educational strategies.
As has been mentioned above, this study will be based on the qualitative design, and, hence, the major attention will be paid to attitudes and reflections of students. It is essential to encourage students to evaluate their social links and identify the extent to which they affect their motivation. It can be valuable to encourage students to contemplate on their cultural background and its effect on their social relatedness and motivation. It is also possible to elicit any information concerning the correlation between motivation and social ties.
Since the primary focus of this study is to identify students’ opinions on the correlation between their social links and motivation, the questions to be answered will deal with these two concepts. The major research question to be answered can be formulated in the following way: How important is social relatedness for undergraduate students?
The sub-questions can be formulated as follows:
What do students think about their relationships with their peers? How do students see their relationships with their educators? Which type of social links (peers vs. faculty) are seen as more influential when it comes to motivation? Why or why not do these social links affect students’ motivation as seen by them? Does social relatedness contribute to the formation of the intrinsic motivation as seen by students?
How did the students’ social links change throughout their studies? What are the reasons for such changes (if any) as seen by the students? How did these changes influence the students’ motivation? What motivates students as regards social relatedness? Can educators help develop social ties as seen by the participants?
As far as the design is concerned, this study will be based on the purposeful design. This qualitative case study will involve interviews with several undergraduate students. The qualitative design is chosen as it is the most relevant when opinions and attitudes are analyzed.
There is no focus on proving that there is a correlation between motivation and social relatedness. However, the researcher concentrates on students’ perception of the way social ties affect their motivation. The research will be based on the analysis of personal accounts of the participants. Therefore, qualitative data collection methods are employed.
To collect the necessary data and answer the research questions, students will be asked open-ended questions. The researcher will encourage students to reflect on their experiences and share their ideas and emotions on the matter.
The questions will be designed in a way to elicit truthful and comprehensive information on the participants’ attitudes and feelings concerning motivation and social relatedness. To achieve this goal, clarifying questions will be asked, and some questions will address different facets of one topic. The interviews will be held in the middle of the year to ensure the participants’ involvement.
The primary data analysis procedure will be coding. Such themes as intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, connectedness, social ties, relationships with peers and faculty will be central. Such themes as cultural peculiarities, socioeconomic and family issues can also be present.
Other themes may appear when analyzing the students’ responses. To ensure the validity of the research, member checks will be employed. The researcher will pay specific attention to the participants’ feedback. This will diminish possible errors in interpretation. This may also provide new valuable insights into the matter.
The participants will be undergraduate students of three local colleges. Two male and two female undergraduate students from each educational establishment will participate. The students’ age will be between 20 and 23 years old. The students with the academic score lower than 70% will be excluded from the research. The samples will be randomly chosen among students that fit the features mentioned above.
Importantly, students living on campus as well as elsewhere will be included in the research as it will help the researcher identify the importance of the degree of connectedness. The interviews will be held on campus to create a favorable atmosphere for the participants.
The researcher will explain major concepts used in questions (for example, social relatedness and motivation). The interviews will last between 60 and 90 minutes. The developed questions will be checked and amended if necessary after three pilot interviews. The students’ responses will be tape-recorded, and field notes will also be made.
As for ethical considerations, the researcher will ensure confidentiality and anonymity of the participants. Clearly, the form will include the consent for tape-recording the interviews. The participation in the research will be voluntary. The researcher will obtain informed written consent from all participants.
There is no potential harm caused by the participation in the study, and the participants will be notified about that. The researcher will not provide any reward for participation, but will explain possible beneficial outcomes for the educational system. Since the interviews will involve students of particular colleges, and the interviews will be held on campus, the corresponding written permission from the educational establishments will be obtained.
The benefits of this research are significant as it will provide insights into the formation of motivation in students of higher educational establishments. Responses of the students can be used to understand the exact way social relatedness affects motivation. This knowledge can be used to develop efficient teaching strategies.
Educators will be able to shape their methods to take into account social links. For instance, educators can employ more projects involving interaction between peers. Social networks and other technological means of the development of social relatedness can also be utilized. Educators will be able to shape their relationships with students to make them more collaborative and effective. The study can also facilitate the research in the field of motivation in higher education.
On balance, it is possible to note that the present research contributes to the field of educational psychology as it fills the gap concerning motivation in higher education. This study identifies particular effects social relatedness has on undergraduate students’ motivation as seen by them. Importantly, students’ voices become heard, which is important for the development of efficient educational strategies.
Educators will be able to incorporate social ties in their educational agendas. This research has a number of limitations. For instance, the data cannot be generalized as a limited number of students of several local colleges will participate.
Nonetheless, insights obtained can be utilized when developing teaching methods and strategies, which can be later checked and used in various settings. The research can also be further extended. It can be effective to consider the way cultural backgrounds or gender affect students’ social relatedness as well as motivation.
Holder, Bruce. “An Investigation of Hope, Academics, Environment, and Motivation as Predictors of Persistence in Higher Education Online Programs.” Internet and Higher Education 10.1 (2007): 245-260. Print.
Jones, Brett D. “Motivating Students to Engage in Learning: The MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation.” International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 21.2 (2009): 272-285. Print.
Müller, Florian H. and Marko Palekčić. “Continuity of Motivation in Higher Education: A Three-Year Follow-Up Study.” Review of Psychology 12.1 (2005): 31-43. Print.
Nukpe, Philip. “Motivation: Theory and Use in Higher Education.” Investigations in University Teaching and Learning 8.1 (2012): 11-17. Print.
Savage, Nick, Roy Birch and Eleni Noussi. ” Motivation of Engineering Students in Higher Education.” Engineering Education 6.2 (2011): 39-46. Print.
Topping, Keith J. “Trends in Peer Learning.” Educational Psychology 25.6 (2005): 631-645. Print.