An investigation of factors that may de-motivate secondary school students undertaking project work : implications for learning information literacy
2008-10-10T14:36:19Z (GMT) by
This paper describes an exploratory, qualitative, study of the motivational issues associated with project work – a method intended to help encourage independent learning skills. The population studied were United Kingdom secondary school students who attended a state funded comprehensive school in Derbyshire. The study chose to explore why students, generally, did not engage in the project process and to determine those factors that either motivated or de-motivated them during this process. Questionnaires were completed by twenty-six Year 7 (11-12 year old) students and ten Year 13 (17-18 year old) students. Interviews were conducted with six Year 7s and ten Year 13 students. In addition six Year 7 students were involved in a focus group and nine Year 13 students in a separate focus group. Different methods, as well as previous research, enabled triangulation of the data and indicated the validity of the findings. Aspects of the students experience when undertaking a piece of research were found to be de-motivating. In general students did not have a clear understanding of the different elements of information literacy. The majority considered that their information skills were not well developed and they were not confident of completing the research process successfully. Specific factors that had significant impact on the students’ motivation included choice of topic, the amount of group work, the level of support and feedback during the process and the study environment. It was also found, in this case study, that educators did not utilise Library and Information Science (LIS) information literacy/information behaviour models or knowledge to teach and support project work. Nor was there any recognition of the attitudes and skills or motivational issues associated with the stages of the project process. This was in contrast to the teaching in school of data analysis and handling, using Information and Communication Technology (ICT), during subject based project work where there seems to be a more cohesive approach. Based on these findings recommendations for improving the project process and the learning experience are given.