Influence of Motivation in Academics. The Case of the Low Performing, High Performing Student

Research Paper (postgraduate) 2014 11 Pages

Pedagogy - Miscellaneous Topics





Background of Student in Case Study


Types of Qualitative Instruments used

Review of Case Study’s Prior Works and Grades

Interview with case study participants

Interview with the Grandmother and Mother of Case Study

Interview with Class Teacher and Principal

Observations in Classroom


DISCUSSION: Suggested Solutions to Address Marsha’s Problems





Marsha is an Inner-City youth who is an eleven (11) year old avid chess player, teacher and mathematics student. However, her communication and interpersonal skills are under developed; therefore, rendering her unable to openly express her self. This is part of a greater problem that she experiences through under developed reading proficiency and the teacher’s inability to properly assess her. This research sought to observe Marsha’s environments and behaviour and to identify measures that would assist her growth. The observation and interviewing techniques were used along with the review of classroom records to conduct this study. The research illustrated that it is important to use accurate assessment strategies in diagnosing students’ classroom deficiencies to improve their overall performance in and outside of the classroom.

Key words: Motivation, Literacy, Assessment, Support


Throughout the ages teachers have sought to expand the minds of young and impressionable student which is of paramount importance for the development of any society. Thus, engendering discoveries and improvements to concepts, philosophies and everyday tools needed to promote and improve lifestyles. However, before any new discoveries can be made, students must learn how to think and reason. Therefore; in many situations great students usually follow great teachers; as was the case with Aristotle, Plato and Socrates of ancient Greece. Each was able to motivate the younger generation into dreaming and expanding their knowledge. This is the desired case of Marsha Brown, student of Hyacinth White. Ms. White is charged with motivating Marsha to reach new heights.

Background of Student in Case Study

Marsha Brown is a regular ten year old fourth grader. She attends a primary school in an inner city reportedly of lower socio-economic status. She is the second of four children, with one brother and two sisters. Marsha lives with her siblings, mother and grandmother; no father is present in her life. It was reported that her father only provided financial support in an irregular manner. It was also garnered that she has two uncles, one of whom, tries to play the patriarchal role in her life. This uncle takes her out on recreational activities and help to support her financially.

The school is situated in the same community in which the student (Marsha) lives, as well as the other students who attend this school. Therefore the students are quite aware of each other’s background and situation. This community is also known to be violent, crime ridden and brutally to young girls who are sometimes raped or get involved in early sexual activities that usually result in pregnancies. It is believe that education doesn’t play a role in the lives of the community people. In light of the present environmental situation, the students are usually illiterate or semi-illiterate and would only pass or complete school up to the primary level. In addition, murders sporadically occur in that area.


Qualitative approach

It is said that good research findings are based on good data collection methods and the use of the appropriate instrument. For this reason a qualitative approach was used to obtain information on the case study participant. “Advantages and Disadvantages of Qualitative research methods (“n.d.) states that qualitative analysis strength is best used in uncovering people’s experience and why things maybe the way they are. However, the disadvantage is that qualitative research methods collects data about what your select group of participants feel or think or behave. You can not necessarily make assumptions beyond the specific group of participants. It is not a research method that conveniently allows for the collection of statistical data. However, this is only a disadvantage if your research questions also need statistical data. This description of a qualitative approach suits the features of this case study. The members of the targeted sample were the Participant, the Grandmother and Mother of the Participant, and the Teacher and Principal of the school she attends.

Types of Qualitative Instruments used

The different types of instruments used in this case study are as follows; questionnaires through open ended questions, observations and interviews. According to “Uniteforsight (“2010) Open-ended questions ask participants to come up with their own responses and allow the researcher to document the opinions of the respondent in his or her own words. These types of questions are useful for obtaining in-depth information on facts with which the researcher is not very familiar, opinions, attitudes and suggestions, or sensitive issues. Completely open-ended questions allow the researcher to probe more deeply into issues, thus providing new insights, bringing to light new examples or illustrations, and allowing for different interpretations and a variety of responses. Specifically for this case study the motivation levels of the student needed to be ascertained and based on observation and questioning/interview, this was seen as the best method to be used. This was utilized because the student was not a very expressive individual.

The “University of Portsmouth (“2012) stated that a key advantage of conducting observations is that you can observe what people actually do or say, rather than what they say they do. People are not always willing to write their true views on a questionnaire or tell a stranger what they really think at interview. Observations can be made in real life situations, allowing the researcher access to the context and meaning surrounding what people say and do. There are numerous situations in the area of criminology and related disciplines, where approaching people for interview or questionnaire completion is unlikely to yield a positive response, but where observations could yield valuable insights on an issue. For this case study it was very important to observe the child in the class room before she became aware that the study was about her; which allowed for the observation of her true class room behaviour and not a mask to cover to up what was really happening.

Review of Case Study’s Prior Works and Grades

The school records were perused and this illustrated consistently good performances in mathematics for the study. In-addition, it also showed the student obtaining consistent low grades in English based subjects. Pintrich and de Groot (1990) examined relationships between motivational orientation, self-regulated learning, and classroom academic performance for 173 seventh graders from eight science and seven English classes. They found that students have individual differences in motivational orientation for cognitive engagement and self-regulation in the classroom. Therefore, it could be assumed that how a student performs in the classroom maybe related to their motivational orientation and this could be directly seen in the grades of the subject they perform excellent and poor in

Interview with case study participants

Marsha is an ardent chess player and a mathematician. She also teaches chess to other student and finds pleasure in doing so. She loves to do house chores and enjoys watching television. Marsha’s favorite colour is blue. Her subjects of choice are Social Studies and Mathematics, and the least liked are Religious Education and Science because she claims they have a lot of information. In contrast, she said that Mathematics is good and fun and it takes practices to complete it. It was observed that in the interview Marsha found it difficult to convey herself conversationally with the interviewer and seemed to be very shy. She expressed the view that in class when questions are asked she doesn’t feel the urge or need to answer because other students normally answer the questions before her. This is done because she takes the time to process the information before answering. In-addition, it was stated that teacher did not give her a chance to answer.

Interestingly, she did not like to work with others because according to her, the other children will tell her the wrong answer or disrupt her. However, she likes to help others because it makes her feel good; although on that high of helping others, if the others get bad grades she reportedly feels bad for not helping them enough. With regards to the helpful traits displayed by Marsha, her dream was to become a Nurse like her Uncle’s Fiancée; so she could help others. Despite her drive to help others, she had little friends, usually walked home alone and plays with her younger sister.

On an emotional level, Marsha reported that at times her class mates makes fun of her by calling her fatty because she is a bit overweight. She was also cognizant of the fact that in her family, only herself and the grandmother had dark skin; which was obviously a problem for her.



ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
509 KB
Catalog Number
Institution / College
Central Connecticut State University
under-development classroom deficiencies school performance




Title: Influence of Motivation in Academics. The Case of the Low Performing, High Performing Student