Eeva-Liisa Nieminen
A door to success in life - 9th grade students’ experiences about motivation in physics and chemistry learning

Author: Eeva-Liisa Nieminen, University of Helsinki.

Title: “A door to success in life – 9th grade students’ experiences about motivation in physics and chemistry learning”

Science teaching has been a target of multiple attempts to change it. Researchers give ideas, teachers adapt them, but rarely students are asked. In Finland, however, curricula have offered freedom to be fairly independent inside the given framework. In my study, the focus is in students’ voice. The research questions are: 1. How does studying of physics and chemistry appear to students and drawing from it: 2. What motivates students in their studies of physics and chemistry. I have used the phenomenological method, the research report including first-person narratives of six students. As a teacher, I have tried to apply the ideas of constructivism and inquiry, however listening to students’ response. The data consists of 20 interviews, which were analysed using theories of self-determination, interest, and the theory of communities of practice, and activism theory. The narratives show that the students often tend to maintain old structures. The theoretical stance for classroom is based on the ideas constructivism and the superiority of inquiry oriented laboratory work, but on the other hand ideas of human agency and social activism emerge from students’ voice. Narratives give a rich picture of active persons who engage in studies departing from their individual goals and needs. Motivation comes as importantly from desire to succeed in life, which leads to strong self-regulation as from intrinsic interest. Being a member of a science class enhances motivation. Students learn the best when learning provides a good explanation. Motivation is reinforced if there is excitement. Students like different learning methods, because of interest and variety, and being able to choose their activities they can feel autonomous and competent. Although this study refers to a special class, it brings forth explicitly, with its phenomenological method, the world of students and their lived experience, which takes active participatory forms.

The DARE Collaborative is a research partnership focused on the digital arts in education, led by the UCL Institute of Education and the British Film Institute. It has a membership of university researchers, teachers and educators in cultural organisations with an interest in arts, media, culture and new literacies in the context of education and digital media.
Centro en Investigación Avanzada en Educación