Towards an understanding of academic motivation, classroom behaviour and academic attainment in adolescents
Thesis or dissertation
- © 2012 Myfanwy Bugler. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.
The aim of this thesis was to investigate a number of topics relating to sex differences in adolescents in an educational setting. The experimental studies were designed to investigate the associations between academic motivation, classroom behaviour, mental toughness and academic attainment in adolescents. Also of interest was to investigate the possibility of developmental trajectories of academic motivation and classroom behaviour throughout adolescence. However, the focus within each study was to examine the sex differences in these constructs and trajectories. Chapter 2 revealed sex differences in academic motivation and classroom behaviour in adolescents with girls reporting significantly higher levels of positive dimensions of academic motivation in addition to higher levels of uncertain control and anxiety. Teachers’ reports of negative classroom behaviour revealed that boys engaged more in negative behaviour in the classroom. Interestingly, there was also a closer relationship between boys’ academic motivation and classroom behaviour. It was found that variation in academic motivation was better predicted by gender identity than sex. For both males and females, identification with feminine traits was more closely associated with academic motivation. Variation in negative behaviour was predicted by both sex and gender identity (in particular a masculine identity). Chapter 4 examined sex differences in age-related trajectories of academic motivation and negative classroom behaviour. Boys were generally less motivated and exhibited more behavioural problems than girls throughout adolescence. However, girls showed a substantial decline in academic motivation between early and mid-adolescence. The results from Chapter 5 revealed relationships between mental toughness, motivation and behaviour. The constructs of motivation and mental toughness both predicted shared and unique variance in negative classroom behaviour however, mental toughness made the largest contribution to oppositional behaviour and cognitive problems/inattention. Finally, chapter 6 demonstrated sex differences were found in attainment at GCSE even when statistically controlling for adolescents motivation and classroom behaviour. Throughout the thesis, the results of each study are discussed in terms of implications for educational practice. For example, the introduction of interventions aimed at improving academic motivation, classroom behaviour, or mental toughness during early adolescence may positively affect later attainment.
- Department of Psychology, The University of Hull
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