Motivations among at risk students in rural community colleges
Sokenu, Julius Oluwasola
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Is it possible for at-risk students attending a rural community college to succeed in attaining their stated academic goals if exposed to a retention program customized to suit the needs of students attending their type of institution? What role does a student's motivation to succeed play in his or her decision to pursue achievement behavior in college? Are academically at-risk learners aware of behaviors that limit their success in the classroom? If so, what affective and cognitive variables determine individual success and to what extent can these variables be screened for on entrance? To address the above questions, the LASSI and Trice Locus of Control inventory were administered to 45 students enrolled in the Opportunity For Success program, a retention effort for at-risk 17-21 years old students at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Connecticut. Using SPSS, a multiple regression analysis was performed by entering the 10 variables of the LASS I and the GP A for the subjects. Also, two 90- minute, in-depth interviews were conducted of 26 of the 45 students. Faculty and advisors of these students were asked to rate their performance. The findings support the literature on student success and college student attrition. At-risk learners are aware of behaviors that limit their success. Successful at-risk students possess a variety of strategies to cope with academic challenge while low achieving students often do not. Instead, the low achieving students develop theories to explain their failure to succeed. Similarly, this research illustrates that failure, like success, is a habit learned over time and context dependent; the high school experiences of underachieving subjects demonstrate that they are often unmotivated to succeed in the classroom because they lack the interest to invest in academic endeavors. Low achieving students in this study continued this pattern in college, while those who became high and moderately achieving adopted multiple strategies to ensure success. Participants were motivated to perform in classes they considered "fun" and relevant to their future goals. The findings also show that educators should assist at-risk students to overcome their fear of failure by increasing their ability to self-regulate learning, set goals, and evolve healthy self concept. This study concludes that the desire to persist, information processing, and attitude towards learning play a major role in the learner's decision to pursue achievement behavior.
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