Motivation to Learn: Perceptions of Kindergarten Students

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Connor, Pamela Boyette
ETD; Motivation; Knowledge acquisition; Kindergarten students; Naturalistic setting; Praise; One-on-one interaction; Play opportunities; Curriculum and Instruction; Curriculum and Social Inquiry; Education; Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research; Legacy ETDs
thesis / dissertation description
Motivation to learn plays a major role in students' acquisition of knowledge. While important information concerning motivation to learn has been discovered, the voices of the participants who take part in the research studies are not often heard when the results are explained.The purpose of the present research was to study children's motivation to learn by letting them speak about what they think is motivating in the classroom. The research participants were a class of 20 kindergarten students who were given the opportunity to talk about what aspects of their classroom they found to be motivating. The students' verbalized thoughts and observed actions in the classroom were recorded and shared in this paper as a means to explore their perceptions. Utilizing the hermeneutic phenomenological mode of inquiry, the goal of the study was to enter the daily life of a group of kindergarten students to see how they experienced motivation in the natural classroom setting. Data collected from the field experience component of the research were interpreted and reported. Latent content analysis and methodological triangulation revealed three emergent themes of motivation to learn: the teacher's praise for students' efforts, one-on-one interaction with the teacher, and play opportunities. Conclusions drawn from the research were unique to the classroom setting where the study took place. As with all hermeneutic phenomenological studies, this is just one description of a phenomena, and hence, information gleaned from this research should not be generalized to other settings.