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The extent to which a student is motivated, along with the root of that motivation, can significantly influence the nature of a student’s experience in a course, especially in a rigorous science course such as Human Anatomy and Physiology (HAP). Students’ perceptions of specific course elements, coupled with how they perceive their purposes, can alter their motivation to succeed, which in turn can affect their performance. This study sought to analyze student motivation in an undergraduate HAP course at the University of Mississippi by focusing on students’ attitudes towards the weight distribution of course assessments, effort exertions, and time allotted toward course tasks. To perform the analysis, two, in-person surveys were administered to students in addition to short polls that were completed remotely. Collected student responses provided demographic information and data regarding students’ perceptions of each of the aforementioned concepts. Relevant questions from in-person surveys were subsequently categorized according to the emphasis its response would reflect: weight, effort, or motivation. While effort and motivation scores were each found to have a positive relationship with academic performance, weight scores were found to have a negative relationship with academic performance. Although students were seemingly optimistic at the beginning of the course, the decline in mean responses to questions regarding motivation and effort exertions implies that both motivation levels and the extents of effort put forth dwindled throughout the semester. Both an increased emphasis on the weight of homework assignments and a decreased emphasis on the weight of course exams were found. This may show that students believe that their homework assignments should contribute more toward their overall course grade and that exam scores should contribute less. The short polls were remotely distributed five days, three days, and one day prior to each exam, with the exception of exam three, in which only polls three days and one day prior were distributed. It was found that motivation typically, not but always, reached its peak one day prior to an exam. Further, more than half of the responding students reported a lack of confidence on each poll. Compared to five days and three days prior, the highest number students that had begun studying occurred one day prior to each exam. The lack of confidence may be due, in part, to the difficulty of course material and potentially could serves to hinder student motivation levels. Ultimately, these findings show that motivation and effort exertions peak just before an exam, which implies that students may prioritize activities unrelated to HAP until the exam date is imminent.
Derivaux, Mattie C., "Study Budgets In Human Anatomy and Physiology Students: Assessments of Time On Tasks As Affected By Student Motivation and Assessment Weighting" (2023). Honors Theses. 2971.
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