Gender-differentiated motivation and academic self-concept as predictors of student retention among community college students

PhD Thesis


Nouroozifar, Golnaz Mona. 2022. Gender-differentiated motivation and academic self-concept as predictors of student retention among community college students. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/wq624
Title

Gender-differentiated motivation and academic self-concept as predictors of student retention among community college students

TypePhD Thesis
AuthorsNouroozifar, Golnaz Mona
Supervisor
1. FirstProf Jeffrey Soar
2. SecondA/Pr Lynda Crowley-Cyr
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages217
Year2022
PublisherUniversity of Southern Queensland
Place of PublicationAustralia
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/wq624
Abstract

Introduction: Attrition (students who neither complete nor return to study) in community colleges has become a major focus of education research over the last four decades. This represents a loss of time and money for the student and potential damage to their careers and future earnings, a loss of revenue and status for the education provider, and a loss to the community in terms of the potential social and economic impact. Researchers have tried to identify factors that shape student attrition.

Purpose: The purpose of this cross-sectional thesis study was to establish associations between variables such as gender-differentiated motivation styles and academic self-concept with student attrition in a community college population.

Methods: A cross-sectional design was used in this study. Instrumental motivational orientation, integrative motivational orientation, and academic self-concept were treated as independent or predictor variables contributing to the dependent variable of student persistence, while demographic characteristics including gender, age, and premature college departure or graduation from the program acted as mediators between the independent variables. This quantitative research used a convenience sampling method. All participants were students enrolled in semester one of the two-year full-time diploma programs within the Faculty of Applied Science and Technology and the Faculty of Business at Humber College. Participants were asked to compete two questionnaires: the Self-Description Questionnaire II (SDQ II) and the Motivation Scale Questionnaire.

Result: The sample size for this study consisted of 339 students across the two recruiting periods (Cohort 1 n = 110, Cohort 2 n = 129). The drop-out rate by the end of their 2nd semester was 18.3%. Integrative Motivational Style did not significantly differ by gender, t(294) = 1.772, p = .077, nor did Instrumental motivational style, t(294) = -1.229, p = .220. Integrative Motivational Style significantly correlated with Academic Self Concept score when controlling for gender, partial r = -.278, p < .001. Integrative Motivational Style scores also correlated within both the male participants, r = -.214, p = .04, and within the female participants, r = -.322, p < .001. Instrumental Motivational Style score significantly correlated with Academic Self Concept sore when controlling for gender, partial r = -.142, p = .015. For females, the correlation was significant, r = -.171, p = .015, but for males there was no significant relationship, r = -.081, p = .44. Academic Self Concept score had a significant zero-order association with 1st semester attrition, with higher score predicting less attrition overall, χ2 (1, N = 318) = 6.489, p = .011. Academic Self Concept score had no zero-order association with 2nd semester attrition, χ2 (1, N = 285) = 2.366, p = .124. Instrumental Motivational Style did not have any zero-order association with 1st semester attrition, χ2 (1, N = 299) = 0.718, p = .397 but had a marginally significant zero-order association with 2nd semester attrition, χ2 (1, N = 267) = 3.643, p = .056. Integrative Motivational Style score had no zero-order association with 1st semester attrition, χ2 (1, N = 299) = .718, p = .379. For 2nd semester attrition, integrative style alone did predict attrition, χ2 (1, N = 267) = 7.868, p = .005.

Limitation: While this thesis study offers data on the relationship between academic self-concept and motivational orientation as pertaining to student retention, it had limitations related to the research design, the sampling approach and sample size. The study design used a self-report survey method where critics questioned their validity and reliability. A non-random, convenience sample was used, thereby limiting the generalizability of the results. Finally, this study had a small sample size which could explain the failure to detect any gender differences as being due to lower statistical power.

Conclusion: The findings provide evidence that academic self-concept is predictive of first semester attrition, while integrative motivational style, and instrumental to some extent, are predictive of second semester attrition. The result contradicts many previous studies on gender differences, having found no difference in attrition rate between genders. These results offer moderate support for aspects of Spady’s and Tinto’s models that describe academic self-concept as a powerful factor accounting for student attrition. They are also partly consistent with Bean and Metzner's model where motivational style impact students’ academic experience and result in premature attrition.

Future Research: To understand the mediators of attrition/persistence among college students, replications and expansions of the current research are necessary.

KeywordsHigher Education; Retention; Postsecondary; Motivation; Gender; Academic Self-Concept
Contains Sensitive ContentDoes not contain sensitive content
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390303. Higher education
390403. Educational administration, management and leadership
Public Notes

File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author.

Byline AffiliationsSchool of Business
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