McMillan and Forsyth’s (1991) model posits that two factors, student needs and student expectations, are paramount in determining motivation. When students needs are present and they believe they are able to satisfy them, students behavior will generally be focused on meeting those needs. Regarding student expectations, if students believe there ability to be successful is limited or that student achievement is not important, their motivation to learn decreases.
The implications this model has for student achievement and the implied expectations of faculty are considerable. As such, assisting students in meeting their needs and shaping their expectations towards high achievement is obtained through the collaborative work of the University community and beyond the means of any one individual. With that said, the suggestions and strategies for faculty that come from this may be categorized into two themes:
- Program Development: when designing programs and/or opportunities for students, examine the desired learning activities and outcomes through a lens that considers student needs and expectations and use the results of that assessment to adjust and develop appropriate support structures and resources for students. This should include structures that are preemptive, but also include mechanisms that identify at-risk students and provide the necessary interventions.
- Student Development: use the theories on student needs and expectations to guide your instructional techniques, mentoring, and assessment. A perhaps unsurprising connection to these findings is that a one-size-fits all approach to undergraduate education is inadequate. It is of course unrealistic to develop programs and activities that fit each student’s best learning style, however, there are many innovative and alternative techniques available to sample from (see the UO’s Teaching Effectiveness Program for resources).
Regarding undergraduate research and creative scholarship specifically, the information on student needs and expectations can be very instructive for your planning, goal setting, mentoring, and assessment. These items are discussed in more detail in the mentoring section.
Next we look at the development of research skills in undergraduate students.
- McMillan, J. H., & Forsyth, D. R. (1991). What theories of motivation say about why learners learn. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 45, 39-52.