A cultural heuristic approach to the study of Jamaican undergraduate students' achievement motivation

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Abstract

Background.

In recent years, there have been increasing calls to develop a more contextually based sociocultural perspective of achievement motivation.

Aim.

This mixed-methods study examined why Jamaican undergraduate students are motivated or unmotivated and how this relates to the extant literature on achievement motivation.

Sample(s).

This study was conducted in two phases and consisted of 175 and 189 Jamaican undergraduate students across phases one and two, respectively.

Methods.

First, a qualitative investigation using open-ended questionnaires and semi-structured interviews explored Jamaican undergraduate students’ conceptualization of motivation and the factors that positively or negatively impacted their motivation. The second phase consisted of using prototype theory to capture a hierarchical cognitive representation of Jamaican students’ motivation using coded themes derived from phase one of the study.

Results and conclusions.

The overall results indicated that personal, cognitive, contextual, and sociocultural factors are important determinants of Jamaican undergraduate students’ academic motivation and that sociocultural (e.g., familial, economic, religious) factors appear to play a more critical role in impacting their motivation.

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