The Role of Student Motivation in the Linking of Perceived School Climate and Academic Achievement



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Research has shown the direct relations of student academic motivation and perceptions of school climate with academic achievement. However, most studies examine these relations separately. Research examining the mediating effects of motivation in the linking of school climate perceptions and achievement is limited. In order to address this limitation and contribute to the existing body of research in this area, the current study employed structural equation modeling to (a) examine a model that illustrates the role of motivation in the linking of student perceptions of school climate to academic achievement, and (b) test this model fit across student groups according to gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Analysis used data from the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS: 2002) that were gathered in a survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics and are representative of a national sample of 10th grade students.

The results showed that the hypothesized model fit the data acceptably for the overall sample and across student groups. In the overall model, students’ perceptions of school climate related significantly with both achievement outcomes. Additionally, perceptions of teacher/student relationship related significantly with all motivation variables. Most group differences were found across ethnicities.

In regard to the role motivation might play in the linking of school climate with achievement, self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation appear to play roles in the linking of student perceptions of teacher/student relationship with achievement. It also appears that intrinsic motivation might play a role in the linking of students’ perceptions of order/safety/discipline. Both self-efficacy and intrinsic motivation appear to play less of a role in the linking of students’ perceptions of fairness/clarity of rules and achievement in reading and math.

The study contributes to the research regarding school climate, motivation, and achievement by testing a complex model that examines the role of motivation as a link in the relations between school climate and achievement. Further, the results of the study not only confirm results of past studies and support the theoretical contentions of social cognitive and cognitive evaluation theories by illuminating the significant roles teachers play in supporting student motivation but also shed light on areas that require further study.



Self-efficacy, Intrinsic motivation, School climate, Reading achievement, Mathematics achievement