Survey research and design in psychology/Assessment/Project/Lab report/Topics/Motivation

The study of motivation is concerned with understanding processes that drive and direct behaviour.

This page provide information specifically about university student motivation. Much theoretical and research attention has been given to determining different aspects, or factors, of motivation. A multidimensional model of student motivation could help to explain and better understand different motivational influences which may contribute to university participation (Hwang, Echols & Vrongisitinos, 2002).

Douvan and Kaye (1967, cited in Bogler & Somech, 2002) described four types of motives:

  1. vocational preparation
  2. intellectual broadening
  3. attractive social life, and
  4. release from parental control.

Clark (1962, as cited in Bogler & Somech, 2002) and Clark and Trow (1966, as cited in Bogler & Somech, 2002) characterized the student subcultures according to the foregoing distinctions:

  1. vocational subculture: students interested mostly in job preparation
  2. academic subculture: oriented toward “serious students” who seek to broaden their knowledge and to be associated with prominent intellectuals and scholars
  3. collegiate subculture: stresses the importance of student life on campus (i.e., sports, dating, fraternities, and sororities (in the US context))
  4. students' wishes to be released from their parents' control.

Henderson-King and Smith (2006) identified 10 underlying motivators for attending university:

  1. career preparation
  2. independence
  3. finding direction for the future
  4. learning
  5. self development
  6. taking the next step
  7. making social connections
  8. changing the world
  9. stress, and
  10. escape.

Career preparation was discovered to be the most common motivation for university attendance, whilst escape was the least indicated motivator. Age- and gender-related differences were also analysed. There was no gender difference for total overall motivation, however females scored higher on the career, learning, independence, self and world factors, whilst males scored higher on stress and escape motivations for university. No significant age differences in motivation were discovered.


  • Bogler, R., & Somech, A. (2002). Motives to study and socialisation tactics among university students. Journal of Social Psychology, 142, 233-248.
  • Donohue, T. L. & Wong, E. H. (1997). Achievement motivation and college satisfaction in traditional and nontraditional students. Education, 118, 237-243. (Retrieved January 29, 2007 from EBSCO database).
  • Henderson-King, D., & Smith, M. N. (2006). Meanings of education for university students: Academic motivation and personal values as predictors. Social Psychology of Education, 9, 195-221.
  • Hwang, Y. S., Echols, C., & Vrongistinos, K (2002). Multidimensional academic motivation of high achieving African-American students. College Student Journal, 36, 544-554.