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Students enter the realm of higher education with a wide variety of beliefs about the purposes of attending university, which often relate to or reveal their various motivations for pursuing a post-secondary education. Research demonstrates that some student motivations align more fully with intrinsic factors, such as the love of learning or quest for excellence, while other student motivations align with extrinsic factors, such as vocational preparedness and monetary incentives (Vallerand et al., 1989). Using a Bourdieusienne lens, this study sought to place these student motivations in the larger sociocultural context and argue for greater opportunities for democratic equity in post-secondary environments. Relying on Self-Determination Theory, the study investigated the relationship between student academic motivations and longitudinal academic performance at a four-year, research oriented university in the United States. More importantly, the study sought to determine if institutional interventions, specifically incoming student orientation and a first-year experience (FYE) course, were valuable in helping align student motivations with the central values of higher education. Using the Academic Motivation Scale for College (AMS-C) across two years, the study employed a Latent Profile Analysis (LPA) and Latent Transition Analysis (LTA) to extract several profiles or “types” of student motivation and examined developmental variability of these profiles across time. Students who shifted from a more controlled to a more autonomous motivational profile in connection with institutional intervention demonstrated the highest levels of first-year academic performance and retention. However, these results diminished during the second academic year. Implications for practice suggest the importance of providing students with a values-based intervention to enhance autonomy-oriented academic motivation and to do so in a manner that sustains this enhancement throughout the academic career.
Colver, M. (2018). Why do you go to college? Shaping student beliefs and success. A dissertation summary. Center for Student Analytics, Utah State University.