Faculty’s attitudes and perceptions related to applying motivational principles to their teaching: a mixed methods study
Snook, Abigail G.
Schram, Asta B.
Jones, Brett D.
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Background It is uncommon for faculty development professionals to assess faculty attitudes towards their teaching responsibilities and their perceived obstacles to teaching effectiveness. The purposes of this study were (a) to document faculty attitudes and practices related to applying motivation principles, and (b) to identify the perceived contextual factors that may shape these attitudes and practices. Methods A sequential explanatory mixed methods design was used. Faculty members (n = 272; 32% response rate) were surveyed about their responsibility for and application of the five motivational principles that are part of the MUSIC Model of Motivation: eMpowerment, Usefulness, Success, Interest, and Caring. Repeated measures ANOVAs and Student’s t-tests were computed to detect differences. Subsequently, two focus groups of faculty members (n = 11) interpreted the survey results. We conducted a thematic analysis and used the focus group results to explain the survey results. Results Faculty rated their responsibilities for applying principles related to Usefulness, Interest, and Caring significantly higher than they did for Success and eMpowerment. Most faculty also reported that they actually applied Usefulness, Interest, and Caring strategies within the past year, whereas over half of the faculty applied Success strategies and about a third of faculty applied eMpowerment strategies. Focus group participants identified factors that affected their ability to apply eMpowerment strategies, (e.g., offering choices), including students lacking generic skills (e.g., critical thinking, problem-solving), a lack of confidence in their abilities to implement empowering strategies and meet the needs of students, passive students, and large lecture-type courses. Focus group participants cited obstacles to implementing Success strategies (e.g., providing feedback), including difficulty in providing feedback in large courses, lacking time and assistant teachers, limited knowledge of technologies, and lacking skills related to guiding effective student peer feedback. Conclusions Faculty appear adequately prepared to implement some types of motivational strategies, but not others, in part due to contextual factors that can influence their attitudes and, ultimately, their application of these strategies. We discuss how these factors affect attitudes and application of motivational strategies and formulate suggestions based on the results.