Motivation and Achievement

The question of how to operationally define motivation is not trivial. Le, Casillas, Robbins and Langley (2005) developed the Student Readiness Inventory or SRI to provide metrics on the personality dimensions most relevant to post-secondary academic success. They found that conscientiousness, goal-focus, and academic self-confidence are the strongest components of academic motivation (Le, Casillas, Robbins, & Langley, 2005). Using another measure, the Big Five Inventory or BFI, Komarraju and Karau (2005) found that the BFI’s conscientiousness scale strongly correlated with academic motivation. In independent confirmation of this finding, Peterson, Casillas and Robbins (2006) found strong correlation between the Conscientious scale of the Big Five Inventory (BFI) and motivation as measured by the Student Readiness Inventory (SRI).

It a study of almost 4,000 students from 28 different institutions offering both two- and four-year programs, and including subjects from a wide variety of disciplines, Allen and Robbins (2010) tried to correlate “interest-major” congruence, motivation as measured by the SRI, and first-year performance as predictors of students’ completion of their studies within each program’s nominal duration, which they use as their operational definition of achievement. They found that only 12% of students in a two-year program completed their studies in the nominal period. Among students taking a two-year program, only motivation was significant and even then, only indirectly. While motivation did not directly correlate to achievement, it did correlate with first-year performance and first-year performance did correlate with achievement (Allen & Robbins, 2010).