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Motivational factors as predictors of student approach to learning

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Background and aim: Research indicates that both self-efficacy and test anxiety may influence student performance. There is also evidence to suggest that students´ approach to learn, i.e. whether they adopt a deep or surface approach influence learning outcome. There is, however, little research exploring the possible influences of self-efficacy and test anxiety on study behavior in higher education. Increasing our knowledge about these associations could improve our understanding of the processes and mechanisms involved in learning and academic performance.

Methods: 1181 undergraduate and graduate students (response rate: 87.5 %) completed a questionnaire package assessing self-efficacy and test anxiety, together with a Danish version of the revised Study Process Questionnaire (R-SPQ-2F) and a number of other variables. The associations were analyzed separately with linear regressions and multivariate hierarchical regression analyses, adjusting for the remaining variables.

Results: Both self-efficacy, test-anxiety, and perception of the teaching environment appeared to be strong independent predictors of student approaches to learning even when controlling for other motivational factors.

Conclusion: Although successful learning largely depends on knowledge and skills, factors such as self efficacy and test anxiety play an important role as predictors of students’ learning approaches, and subsequent learning outcomes. Because students are not always internally motivated, they sometimes need the situated motivation provided by the institution, and by understanding the role of these factors, we may improve our ability to create learning environments that provide opportunities for students to experience progress in their learning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year29 Aug 2012
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2012
EventInternational Conference on Motivation - Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Duration: 28 Aug 201230 Aug 2012


ConferenceInternational Conference on Motivation
LocationGoethe Universität
CityFrankfurt am Main

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