Isaac Scientific Publishing

Journal of Advances in Education Research

Motivation States among STEM and Non-STEM Undergraduates

Download PDF (492.8 KB) PP. 39 - 49 Pub. Date: May 2, 2020

DOI: 10.22606/jaer.2020.52001


  • David Palmer*
    School of Education, University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia


Student motivation influences retention in university STEM programs, but whereas most studies have focused on trait-like motivational factors relatively few have focused on motivation states (i.e., episodic experiences of being motivated to learn). The aim of this study was to investigate the states of motivation experienced by undergraduates in authentic lecture settings. Interviews were carried out with 43 university students from STEM and non-STEM specializations. Each interview was held immediately after a regular lecture, and the questions focused on the motivation states (defined as an active feeling of wanting to learn) that they experienced towards the end of the lecture, just before they were interviewed. Validity was established by triangulation of their interview responses. It was found that the motivation states of STEM students were significantly more negative than those of the non-STEM students. This was educationally important because it correlated overall with levels of concentration, although it was noted that some female STEM students managed to self-regulate their concentration. It was concluded that STEM students may be more susceptible to low motivation for learning during formal lectures.


motivation state, concentration, self-regulation


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