Examining high-school students' motivation change through a person-centered approach


The study identified 6 groups of high-school students who possess unique motivational characteristics, ranging from amotivated to externally regulated, balanced demotivated, moderately motivated, balanced motivated, and autonomously motivated. The results showed that the changes in highschool students’ motivation were more complex than an increase or a decrease in the level of motivation. Students moved from having 1 set of motivational characteristics to another set of motivational characteristics across 2 academic years. School belongingness and prior achievement level were positively associated to motivation shifting toward more adaptive characteristics. Understanding the patterns and predictive factors of motivational change can better inform teachers and school administers to generate strategies that support students’ motivation development as a whole, shifting to increasingly adaptive motivational profiles over time. As there are few longitudinal person-centered studies of motivation situated in high school settings, the current study adds to practical knowledge about the mechanism of students’ motivation development at this crucial juncture in their academic career.

Journal of Educational Psychology