The Main Nutrient of Examination Performance; Motivation and Related Factors

The Main Nutrient of Examination Performance; Motivation and Related Factors
17 Haziran 2017
Etiketler: ,
Kategoriler: Bilimsel Makalelerimiz


 The Main Nutrient of Examination Performance;

Motivation and Related Factors


ARKABAHÇE Psychological Development, Training and Consulting & MARMARA University,

Istanbul, Turkey


Due to growing global market, contemporarily, young citizens of the world compete not only with youngsters living in their own country but also with youngsters living in other countries. Turkey’s population as per 2000 is 65.3 million, with a young population structure. 30 % of the population is in the age class of 0-14 and 64 % of the population is in the age class of 15-64. In view of the circumstances, regulations about providing a basis for offering everyone a chance for education and schooling, preventing accumulation in transition to higher education, ensuring equality of educational opportunity and establishing an efficient guidance system are unsatisfactory (Çolakoğlu, 2002).

Educational establishments fall short of meeting demands and accept students based on entrance exam points. Thus, students enter for a challenging race for performing. One of the most basic variables that affect performance is motivation.

According to Turkish Language Association motivation is a French origin word defined as “encouragement, inducement” (şim 27/0672011). “Inducement which starts as an internal stimulation incites the organism towards behaviors pushing on a target and the organism that hit the target is satisfied thanks to inducement”.

The present study investigates the relationship of motivation, as one of the factors affecting test performance, with different variables in terms of test success.

The present study investigates

(1) The relationship between physical conditions that affect test performance, anxiety during the test, pessimism, pressure of the immediate social environment, insufficient physical conditions, and reluctance/lack of motivation.

(2) The relationship between grade class, gender, parents’ educational level, family’s monthly income, type of school attended, academic support by private school offering specialized courses/ private lessons, student’s self-expectancy, preparation efficiency perceived by student, importance attached to tests by the student and reluctance/lack of motivation.


Survey model is used as research design. Research sample is randomly selected  among students studying  at one private school and  five state schools in Istanbul, who are attending to the support group at the counseling center (N=644, 344 girl 58%, 318 boy 52%) , aged from 12 to 18.

Sample size is determined based on the data collection tool’s “Scale of Attitudes Negatively Affecting Performance, POET 1-S” lack of motivation sub-scale standard deviation value (Güner and Otrar, in print). The formula used for determining sample size is (n=z*ss/e) (Karasar, 2004).


Demographic Information Form and Scale of Attitudes Negatively Affecting Performance 1/Exam (POET-1/S) are data collection tools. The survey includes ten closed-ended questions about gender, age, grade, school type, parents’ education level and students ‘ preparation processes for tests.

Scale of Attitudes Negatively Affecting Performance 1/S (POET 1/S)

Scale of Attitudes Negatively Affecting Performance 1/S (POET 1/S) is a five point Likert type scale consisting of 71 items designed by Güner and Otrar (in print). The scale is developed to assess attitudes affecting 12-18 age groups’ test performance. POET 1/S has six sub dimensions. These are, (1) Physical Conditions, (2) Anxiety During Tests, (3) Pessimism, (4) Reluctance/Lack of Motivation, (5) Pressure of the Immediate Social Environment, (6) Insufficient Physical Conditions. The present study includes only Reluctance/Lack of Motivation sub dimension. The Cronbach Alpha coefficient of reluctance/lack of motivation sub-scale is .831 and of total scale is .953. The six factors resulting from ANOVA test explain 42% of total variance, reluctance/lack of motivation factor by itself, explains 7.37% of total variance. Eigenvalue of reluctance/lack of motivation sub-dimension is found to be 5.24.

The POET 1/S scale is applied to the same group together with Test Anxiety Scale developed by Öner and Albayrak (1985) and tested for criterion validity. There is a mediocre but significant relationship between Scale of Attitudes Affecting Performance and reluctance/lack of motivation (r=.584,  p<.001)

Data Analysis Method

Besides independent group t test, ANOVA and Pearson Product Moment Correlation Technique, Scheffe and Tamhane methods, are used as complementary techniques. Results are analyzed with SPSS 15.0 statistical package.


Based on grade class factor, highest lack of motivation mean score is obtained by 9th grade class or older students, and lowest lack of motivation mean score is obtained by 6th grade class students. One way ANOVA test results indicates that students’ reluctance with respect to their grades are statistically meaningfully different (F=12, 78 p<.001), (Table-1).

Tamhane test is used for Post-hoc analysis after ANOVA. Accordingly, 7th, 8th, 9th grade classes and older students scores of reluctance towards tests are meaningfully (p<.001) higher than 6th grade students. ANOVA analysis results indicated a differentiation in motivation scores depending on mother’s education factor (F= 2, 57, p<.05). On the other hand, Scheffe test indicated no meaningful difference between categories (Table-2).

The nature of relationship between student’s self-expectancy, preparation efficiency perceived by student, importance attached to tests by the student with reluctance/lack of motivation is tested with Pearson Product Moment Correlation Technique. A negative significant relationship between student’s self-expectancy and lack of motivation score (r= -.334, p<.001), preparation efficiency and lack of motivation score (r= -.347, p<.001) and a negative relationship between importance attached to tests and reluctance/lack of motivation score (r=.188, p<.001) is found (Table 3).

As seen at Table 4, again, a positive significant relationship is detected between POET 1/S’s sub-scale scores (physical signs r=.498 p<.001, anxiety during exam r=.495 p<.001, pessimism r=.622 p<.001, near surroundings pressure r=.319 p<.01, insufficient physical circumstances r=.281 p<.01 and total score r=.735 p<.001) and reluctance/lack of motivation.

Gender, father’s educational level, parents’ monthly income, type of school attended, academic support by private school offering specialized courses/ private lessons are not found to be related to motivation. Gender, father’s educational level, parents’ monthly income, type of school attended, academic support by private school offering specialized courses/ private lessons are not found to be related to motivation.


  1. Results indicate that students attending higher grade classes are more likely to have lower motivation scores. 7Th, 8th and 9th grade class students’ motivation scores are significantly lower than 6th grade class students. This result may possibly due to a certain level of burnout reached over years.

A study conducted by Harter and Jackson (1992) showed that internal motivation that reached peak levels at 3th grade class systematically turns into external motivation  at 9th grade class depending exam marks and this transformation reaches peak levels at 6th grade class.

  1. Mother’s educational level is not a factor affecting motivation. However other researches indicate that parents’ educational level and related attitudes has a positive effect on children’s academic success and motivation (Gonzalez-DeHass, A. R., Willems, P. P., & Doan Holbein, M. F., 2005)

The study conducted by Izzo, Weissberg,, Kasprow and Fendrich (1999) revealed that parent’s interest towards child’s academic activity has a positive effect on child’s motivation. Besides, other researchers argued that the reflection of parent’s thoughts and values about success and child’s motivation and adequacy are strongly related (Marchant, Paulson and Rothlisberg, 2001). Child’s motivation increases if he/she realizes that the parent is interested in his/her education (Ames, Khoum and Watkins, 1993). However, these studies don’t differentiate mother’s effect from fathers. The present study revealed that father’s educational level doesn’t have an effect on child’s motivation level as well. This result may indicate that family structure of the present sample may not be giving fathers a role with which he would closely monitor child’s academic situation.

  1. Another outstanding result is the significant relationship between student’s self-expectancy, preparation efficiency perceived by student, importance attached to test by student and motivation. These results are in line with the literature.

Bong & Skaalvik (2003) point out the importance of examining the relationship between learning and success. They argue nature of the construction concerning test anxiety, beliefs of sufficiency and success goals should be investigated. Their research results suggest that increase in self-expectancy increases motivation.

Aysan and Harmanlı (2003) define “proficiency expectation” as individual’s belief about being able to mobilize motivation and cognitive abilities and they emphasize that it is formed due to cognitive evaluations about life experience. Thus, “self-evaluation” matters.

There are other studies that agree with present results. Students with higher self-confidence study with greater desire and this positively affects test performance (Oettingen, Mayer, 2002). Individuals with high self-activity struggle against difficulties and they tend to resist (Bandura, 1986; Zimmerman, 1989).

Recurrence of success generates a positive vicious cycle and increases proficiency expectation versus failure. Selçuk (2001) remarks that previous success is an important predictor of proficiency expectation. Most of studies concerning performance and proficiency expectation reveal a positive relationship between proficiency expectation and high performance. Beauchamp, Bray and Albinson (2002), investigated the relationship between proficiency expectation and performances of sportsmen and suggested that sportsmen with good performance have high proficiency expectation and sportsmen with bad performance have low proficiency expectation.

Paying heed to test increases the motivation for test and this is a result of internal motivation.  According to Lazarus and Folkman (1984) and Blascovich and Tomata (1996) whether difficulty is perceived as challenge or threat matters. If an individual perceives “test” as a challenge, he/she can adopt an optimistic point of view and consider it as an opportunity. However, if he/she perceives it as a threat, he/she can be affected negatively and may think that it can be dangerous.

  1. A negative significant relationship is found between preparation efficiency perceived by student and reluctance/lack of motivation. We can conclusively argue that students are motivated by the sufficiency of their preparation level. Putwain & Daniels (2010) suggested that “proficiency beliefs” and “test anxiety” positively affect goal oriented behavior. They additionally pointed out that “proficiency beliefs” and “test anxiety” increased performance and individuals with high self-perception have higher proficiency motivation.
  2. Total score and six dimensions of POET is significantly related to motivation. Higher is the score of sub-scales, lower the motivation is. Thus, motivation is the main factor affecting test performance. Many other research studies support this result (Chan, Schmitt, DeShon, Clause, & Delbridge, 1997; Arvey, Strickland, Drauden, & Martin, 1990).

In conclusion, in Turkey and all over world, offering limited supply on the face of great demand or other kind of selective eliminations would necessarily provoke test anxiety in individuals. However, it is worrisome that in Turkey, professionals specialized in preparation to tests might push young generation to an unnatural motivation and drag them to directions other than their real ideals.

According to self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan 1985b, 1991; Ryan & Deci, 2000) individuals tend to adapt their natural tendencies to their physical and social environment and turn intrinsic regulators to extrinsic regulators for motivating themselves to integrate to a greater social chain. Even though self-determination theory emphasizes that especially, this is the evolution of unification tendencies of individuals in connection with their basic psychological needs of autonomy, sufficiency and interrelation. In other words, human development is a natural intra-psychic, interpersonal unification tendency what is called autonomy and homonymy by Angyal (1965). Only, this tendency is not activated by effective implementation with autonomy, sufficiency and interrelation at the beginning and it needs to be fed by these experiences. Social world make so much possible the satisfaction of these needs, so that individuals march to a greater autonomy, homonymy, induced alienation and subjective well-being.

Here, there is strong evidence that the main problem is exposed gratification which is in relationship with evolved tendencies towards autonomy and reward strategies. These intend to organize behavior from outside, sabotage processes keeping the organism in contact with its needs for being able to react to the environment.

This reward contingency is arbitrary and it is often powerfully activated with an approach used for enlightening the reward-expected behavior. In reality, in many cases, individuals are rewarded for expected unnatural behaviors. For instance, they are expected to work for hours, discarding their interests and relationships or dealing with worthless behaviors and trying to convince others that they do it because they are interested. In this case, reward falls beyond the scope of its purpose and pose long term problems. Especially, unexpected use of rewards sabotage intrinsic motivation and predominate natural tendencies.  (Ryan & Deci, 2000)

We suggest researchers to conduct longitudinal studies about young people and their motivational tendencies, values and interests for rendering possible inducement of test anxiety.

Especially, developmental psychologists should investigate parents’ attitudes during preparation for test period, effects of external environment such as teachers, media etc. on youngsters’/children’s personality traits such as self-esteem, values.

Since there are not many instruments for measuring test performance, Scale of Attitudes Negatively Affecting Performance, POET 1-S should be studied for enlarging age intervals and for normative application.

Finally, counselors and educational psychologists working in the field are strongly recommended to mobilize individual’s internal regulators in competitive situations and cause them acquire self-observation and regulation skills, developing educational/developmental programs for making them internalize reward system and experimentally investigate the efficiency of these programs.


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Table 1 One-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) Results of POET I/S Reluctance/Lack of Motivation Scores for Grade Class Variable Levene: 2,955 *   * p<,05   **p<.01   ***p<.001

Grade ClassNMeanStd. dev. Source   of VarianceSum of SquaressdMean of SquaresFp
6th grade16638,575628,92115Inter groups30367,716310122,57    12,78,000***
7th grade14352,768229,64858In groups521681,80659791,626  
8th grade27053,532528,07912Total552049,51662   
9th grade and upper8457,105123,73481      

Table 2 One-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) Results of POET I/S Reluctance/Lack of Motivation Scores for Mother’s Education Variable 

Mother’s EducationNMeanStd. dev. Source of VarianceSum of SquaressdMean of SquaresFp
Primary17053,330226,09601Inter groups7804,73432601,5783,150,025*
Middle10748,665128,19988In groups544244,78659825,865  

Levene:2,044      * p<,05   **p<.01   ***p<.001

Table 3 The Relationship Between Student’s Self-expectancy, Preparation Efficiency Perceived by Student, Importance Attached to Tests by The Student with Reluctance/Lack of Motivation Scores

Continuous VariableLack of Motivation
Preparation Efficiency-.347***
Attached Importance-.188***

* p<,05   **p<.01   ***p<.001

Table 4 Relationship between Reluctance/Lack of Motivation and POETI/S’s Total and Sub-Scale Scores.

 Reluctance/Lack of Motivation
Physical Signs,498***
Anxiety during the test,495***
Insufficient Conditions,281**