Scholarly article on topic 'Elementary Students’ Motivation Towards Informatics Course'

Elementary Students’ Motivation Towards Informatics Course Academic research paper on "Educational sciences"

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Abstract of research paper on Educational sciences, author of scientific article — Saša Mladenović, Žana Žanko, Monika Mladenović

Abstract Job market is increasingly demanding jobs in all fields of Computer science. Besides that, most jobs require computer literacy and computer fluency. Students should get these skills through elementary education. In the Republic of Croatia computer science is part of informatics course which is elective course for students from 5th to 8th grade. Because of that, students have to be motivated to elect such course. To investigate motivation and attitude towards elective course of informatics we conducted survey among 1462 8th grade elementary students as a special form of non-experimental research. Results of the research is presented in this paper.

Academic research paper on topic "Elementary Students’ Motivation Towards Informatics Course"

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Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 174 (2015) 3780 - 3787

INTE 2014

Elementary students' motivation towards informatics course

Sasa Mladenovica*, Zana Zankob, Monika Mladenovicc

aFaculty of science, University of Split, Teslina 12, Split 21000, Croatia

bElementary school "Mejasi", Mejasi 20, Split 21000, Croatia cElementary school "Blatine-Skrape", Na Krizice 2, Split 21000, Croatia

Abstract

Job market is increasingly demanding jobs in all fields of Computer science. Besides that, most jobs require computer literacy and computer fluency. Students should get these skills through elementary education. In the Republic of Croatia computer science is part of informatics course which is elective course for students from 5th to 8th grade. Because of that, students have to be motivated to elect such course. To investigate motivation and attitude towards elective course of informatics we conducted survey among 1462 8th grade elementary students as a special form of non-experimental research. Results of the research is presented in this paper.

© 2015TheAuthors.PublishedbyElsevier Ltd.This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the Sakarya University

Keywords: computer science; elementary school; motivation; attitude; survey

1. Introduction

Computer literacy or Information technology (IT) literacy is ability of using computer and technology (U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, OTACIT-235, 1984, p. 234). It includes many aspects of using computers like word processing, spreadsheets, internet, programming and problem solving etc. IT fluency is understanding of fundamental IT concepts and ability to apply IT in complex and sustained situations. Most jobs today requires IT fluency ( National Research Council Committee on Information Technology Literacy, 1999) therefore children should gain these skills through school. Computational thinking should be fourth analytical ability, next to reading, writing and arithmetic (Wing, 2008). Digital competency, which includes IT fluency, is

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +385-21-385-286. E-mail address: sasa.mladenovic@pmfst.hr

1877-0428 © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license

(http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the Sakarya University

doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.01.1113

considered one of the eight basic competencies in European Union (European Reference Framework, 2007) as in Republic of Croatia (Ministarstvo znanosti, obrazovanja i sporta, 2011).

Computers and technology are a large part of everyone's daily life (Verbick, 2002.) so IT fluency is a skill that everyone should master today. Although jobs in computing are outnumbering graduates with the necessary skills to fill them (Frieze & Quesenberry, 2013.), enrolment in Computer science degree programs has steadily declined (Uludag, Karakus, & Turner, 2011.) (Denning & McGettrick, 2005.) since 2001, women and minorities are underrepresented, many K-12 students have a negative perception of computing, and reports say the innovation rate in the field has decreased (Violino, 2009).

Most students develop contemporary IT skills in computer literacy programs that are commonly found in country's public schools in the USA (Werner, Campe, & Denner, 2005). In the Republic of Croatia these skills should be covered by Informatics course in elementary and high schools. Problem arises due to fact that the Informatics is elective course offered in elementary school from 5th to 8th grade (Ministarstvo znanosti obrazovanja i sporta, 2006). Since the children voluntary join the course they have to be motivated to do so. Through our research we tried to identify motivation factors for 8th grade students in different parts (three regions) of the Republic of Croatia. By determining motivation factors we may well act in the future to increase enrolment to informatics course. According to all mentioned above research questions arises:

• Is there a difference in motivation between genders?

• Is there a difference in motivation between regions?

2. Background and motivation for research

Various definitions of motivation exist (Kleinginna & Kleinginna, 1981), but none deny the most basic one defined in the Cambridge International Dictionary of English: Motivation is enthusiasm for doing something (Cambridge University Press, 2008). To be motivated means indeed to be moved to act (Ryan & Deci, 2000.). Taking all mentioned into account the study of motivation and interest appears to be a crucial and many researchers have dealt with it. Unfortunately, while these topics continue to be in focus of educational psychologists, they have been according relatively little attention in the learning sciences community (Hickey, 2004.).

However, according to Centra and Gaubatz, students' perceptions are seen to have some relation with student achievement (Centra, 2000). A study from Berg and Anders found that motivation influences the attitude of a student where the motivated student will change to a positive attitude (study hard and not give up even when failing) while the less motivated students will be transformed into a negative attitude. (Berg & R., 2005.).

Numerous educational researchers in many disparate domains have studied the positive motivational characteristics of interesting instructional content. The motivational aspects of this approach are rapidly being explored, and in many situations found to be a powerful educational tool (DeClue, 2003.). According to Ryan and Deci, students are more motivated and stay motivated, driven by intrinsic rewards such as constructive criticism than extrinsic, such as good grades because the intrinsic rewards give more satisfaction than the extrinsic rewards (Ryan & Deci, 2000.).

Motivation towards a subject plays an important part in influencing learner understanding of subject knowledge and their achievement in the subject. Motivated learners are more eager to attempt challenging tasks, overcome any difficulty and enjoy their achievement. Learners with positive attitudes are also more likely to put more effort into their learning and involvement in learning tasks. (Liu, 2005.)

According to ITiCSE 2010 Working Group Report, motivation is the key to success (Carter, et al., 2010.). In recent decades, it has become evident that CS is having a profound and pervasive impact on a range of other scientific disciplines, opening a way to interdisciplinary courses offered within CS programs and research projects, from which many CS students can gain tremendous benefits (Sahami, Aiken, & Zelenski, 2010), (Zhang, Lundak, Lin, Gegg-Harrison, & Francioni, 2007). Students who have experienced such first-hand connections between CS and other disciplines become more aware of the breadth and richness of career and study opportunities, which can be a significant factor in increasing their motivation and interest in the discipline.

Jenkins has divided the motivation into four types (Jenkins, 2001.):

• Extrinsic - the primary motivation is career / awards that will influence success.

• Intrinsic - the primary motivation is strong interest in something for his own satisfaction.

• Social - the primary motivation is to fulfill other parties needed.

• Achievement - the primary motivation is "doing best" for personal satisfaction.

3. Methodology

The purpose of this research was to explore motivation of students for enrolment in informatics course, and to explore relations between motivation, gender, geographical location and technical requirements in classrooms. For research purpose online questionnaire is used to obtain data from respondents. Questionnaire is composed of 28 questions and designed by one of the researchers. Students filled questionnaire anonymously and voluntarily in their classrooms during the last two weeks of the school year. This paper will discuss the results of only certain parts of the questionnaire related to motivation. Quantitative data obtained has been analyzed using the descriptive statistics and comparative analysis.

3.1. Participants

Sample involved 1462 final year elementary students from seven counties (three regions) across the Republic of Croatia during school year 2011./2012. Students filled survey during informatics class. Sample size is satisfying sample size requirements (Krejcie & Morgan, 607-610). Sampling was non-probability, purposive (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2011) because the goal was to examine students involved in informatics during four years consequently they didn't quit from informatics course.

3.2. Assessment Instruments

The data was collected by using online survey created by one of the researchers. Survey was composed of 28 questions of which 6 related to motives for choosing informatics as elective course (Table 1) of Likert-type.

Table 1 Survey questions used for measuring motivation for choosing informatics

Q1 I'm interested in course content

Q2 I think that my knowledge and skills gained on informatics will be used in future schooling and work

Q3 I enrolled in Informatics because I want to learn programming and problem solving

Q4 I enrolled in Informatics to spend more time with my friend beyond ordinary classes

Q5 I enrolled in Informatics to spend more time on playing games and other fun contents

Q6 I enrolled in Informatics to improve my average school score

3.3. Statistical Analysis

Non-parametric tests are used for analysis. Mann Whitney U and Kruskal-Wallis is used in this research for Likert-style questions. Since observed data are ordinal parametric test can't be used. Non-parametric tests are used instead. Kruskal-Wallis test is use to determine if a differences between groups exists and Mann-Whitney U test is used to compare differences between groups if existent. All analyses were performed using PSPP 0.8.1.1.statistical software.

4. Results and discussion

Analysis of the results obtained has been realized in two stages. The first stage used descriptive analysis to get the frequencies of the answers, and during the second stage the relation in motivation towards informatics between genders and geographical location has been analyzed.

4.1. Background of respondents

Among 1462 students, 764 students were male and 698 students were female. Gender percentage is shown in Figure 1.

When it comes to geographical location, students from three regions in Croatia were participating in this survey. Regions are: Dalmatia, Kvarner and city of Zagreb including surroundings. These regions are covering seven counties. Region percentage is shown in Figure 2.

Fig. 1 Respondents gender percentage

IDalmacija ■Kvarner »Zagreb i oitolica Fig. 2 Respondents region percentage

4.2. Motivational questions

According to Jenkins motivation classification, questions from questionnaire are fitting into that frame. Questions Q5 and Q6 are related to extrinsic motivation, Q1 and Q3 are related to intrinsic, Q4 is related to social and Q2 is related to achievement. Figure 3 shows frequencies of answers to questions.

Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5 Q6

■ 1 ■ 2 »3 »( ■

Fig. 3 Respondents frequencies of answers on motivational questions

As showed in the figure 3, more respondents were reported to have positive perception at achievement motivation type (Q2). Extrinsic motivation (Q6) is dominant for most respondents. Descriptive statistic for motivational questions is showed in Table 2.

Table 2. Descriptive statistic.

Question Mean St Dev

Q1 - intrinsic 3.78 1.15

Q2 - achievement 4.35 1.00

Q3 - intrinsic 3.84 1.22

Q4 - social 3.81 1.26

Q5 - extrinsic 3.44 1.42

Q6 - extrinsic 3.85 1.31

As showed in the Table 2 achievement motivation (Q2) is found to be most dominant. Extrinsic motivation (Q6) is found to be dominant when the motive is improving average school score, but also at least dominant when the motive is playing games and other fun staff. The explanation of this results could be that students are aware of importance informatics in high school or generally, later in life, and they also care for their school achievement because they have an impact on average school score required for choosing high school. On the other hand, idea of playing games using school computers is not dominant, probably since almost all children have computer(s) at home where they can play games, so this is not in their motivation anymore.

4.3. Is there a difference in motivation between genders?

To analyze differences in motivation between genders Mann-Whitney test is used. Results showed that there is statistically significant difference between genders for Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q5. For those questions cross-tabulations are prepared to find differences between groups. Cross-tabulations are presented in tables 3-7.

Table 3. A cross-tabulation for a Mann-Whitney U test for Q1

1 2 3 4 5 Total

Male Count 48 48 157 242 269 764

% 6,3% 6,3% 20,5% 31,7% 35,2% 100,0%

Q1 Female Count 41 45 180 227 205 698

% 5,9% 6,4% 25,8% 32,5% 29,4% 100,0%

Total Count 89 93 337 469 474 1462

% 6,1% 6,4% 23,1% 32,1% 32,4% 100,0%

Cross tabulation (Table 3) showed that boys (f=764) are more interested in course (U=249579.5, p=.027) therefore, more intrinsically motivated than girls (f=698).

Table 4. A cross-tabulation for a Mann-Whitney U test for Q2

1 2 3 4 5 Total

Male Count 23 37 78 188 438 764

% 3,0% 4,8% 10,2% 24,6% 57,3% 100,0%

Q2 Female Count 19 19 64 138 458 698

% 2,7% 2,7% 9,2% 19,8% 65,6% 100,0%

Total Count 42 56 142 326 896 1462

% 2,7% 2,7% 9,2% 19,8% 65,6% 100,0%

Results from cross-tabulation showed in Table 4 indicates that when it comes to achievement, girls (f=698) are more motivated than boys (f=764). They are more aware that attending course of informatics could help them in future scholar achievement (U=244303, p=.001).

Table 5. A cross-tabulation for a Mann-Whitney U test for Q3

1 2 3 4 5 Total

Male Count 42 63 109 208 342 764

% 5,5% 8,2% 14,3% 27,2% 44,8% 100,0%

Q3 Female Count 47 85 138 196 232 698

% 6,7% 12,2% 19,8% 28,1% 33,2% 100,0%

Total Count 89 148 247 404 574 1462

% 6,1% 10,1% 16,9% 27,6% 39,3% 100,0%

Cross tabulation (Table 5) showed that boys (f=764) more want to learn programming and problem solving (U=229149.5, p=.00) which again indicates that boys are more intrinsically motivated than girls (f=698).

Table 6. A cross-tabulation for a Mann-Whitney U test for Q5

1 2 3 4 5 Total

Male % 83 102 121 156 302 764

Count 10,9% 13,4% 15,8% 20,4% 39,5% 100,0%

Q5 Female % 108 135 137 135 183 698

Count 15,5% 19,3% 19,6% 19,3% 26,2% 100,0%

Total % 191 237 258 291 485 1462

% 13,1% 16,2% 17,6% 19,9% 33,2% 100,0%

Cross-tabulation (Table 6) showed that boys (f=764) are also more interested in course so they could play games and having fun contents (U=220224.5, p=.00) which indicates that boys are more extrinsically motivated than girls f=698).

4.4. Is there a difference in motivation between regions?

Survey is conducted among three regions so Kruskal-Wallis test is used to examine if a difference between regions exists. Results of the analysis indicated that there is indeed a difference in intrinsic motivation (Q1) (%2=9.749.11, df=2, p<01), with a mean ranks: 712.29 for Dalmatia region (f=600), 646.38 for Kvarner region (f=110) and 759.28 for Zagreb with surroundings (f=752). Results also showed that there is a difference in social motivation (Q4) when it comes to spending more time with school friends beyond ordinary classes (%2=7.468.11, df=2, p<02), with a mean ranks: 765.68 for Dalmatia region (f=600), 693.36 for Kvarner region (f=110) and 709.81 for Zagreb with surroundings (f=752). To determine differences between groups, cross-tabulations are prepared. Results are showed in Tables 7 and 8.

Sasa Mladenovic et al. /Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 174 (2015) 3780 - 3787 Table 7. A cross-tabulation for a Q1

Dalmacija

Kvarner

surroundings

1 2 3 4 5 Total

% 46 44 136 184 190 600

Count 7,7% 7,3% 22,7% 30,7% 31,7% 100,0%

% 10 6 33 35 26 110

Count 9,1% 5,5% 30,0% 31,8% 23,6% 100,0%

% 33 43 168 250 258 752

Count 4,4% 5,7% 22,3% 33,2% 34,3% 100,0%

% 89 93 337 469 474 1462

% 6,1% 6,4% 23,1% 32,1% 32,4% 100,0%

A cross-tabulation, presented in Table 7, indicates that students from Zagreb with surrounding region are more intrinsically motivated than student from other regions.

Table 8. A cross-tabulation for a Q4

. % Dalmatia Count 38 6,3% 46 7,7% 106 17,7% 148 24,7% 262 43,7% 600 100,0%

Q4 Kvarner % Count 8 7,3% 10 9,1% 28 25,5% 24 21,8% 40 36,4% 110 100,0%

Zagreb with % 61 85 132 187 287 752

surroundings Count 8,1% 11,3% 17,6% 24,9% 38,2% 100,0%

Total % % 107 7,3% 141 9,6% 266 18,2% 359 24,6% 589 40,3% 1462 100,0%

A cross-tabulation, presented in Table 8, found that students from Dalmatia region are more socially motivated than student from other regions.

5. Conclusion

Despite the need for formal computer science education to increase IT literacy but also IT fluency, and despite the fact that demanding jobs in computer science area are increasing, motivation for joining computer science courses on all educational levels are decreasing. In Croatia, primary education is obligatory. However, as part of that education some subjects are mandatory and some are elective. Informatics, as computer science course, is one of the elective courses implicating that each year students can choose whether to enroll the course or not. That is the biggest reason why motivation is particularly significant when it comes to informatics. It is very important to identify and understand the motives which encourage students to decide to enroll in this course in order to attract and retain as many as possible students.

Four types of motivation are analyzed in this research; intrinsic, achievement, social and extrinsic. Descriptive statistic revealed that dominant motivations are achievement and extrinsically motivation, confirming trends from other countries, demonstrating that student are not enough intrinsically motivated to enroll in computer science courses. Research questions have been shaped to determine if there are differences in motivation based on gender or geographical location. The research proved that, when it comes to gender, boys are more intrinsically but also extrinsically motivated for informatics course. On the other hand, girls are more motivated by achievement than boys.

When it comes to geographical location, there are some statistically significant differences between regions. Students from three regions participated in this research. Zagreb is the capital city of Croatia therefore offering more

possibilities when it comes to extracurricular education. A lot of programming clubs exists where students can practice programming and other computer skills beyond what is offered by elementary school informatics course. As of that, it is not a surprise that students from that area are more intrinsically motivated compared to other two regions. When it comes to socially motivated students, results showed that Dalmatian students are more motivated than students from other regions.

In the next period, based on the results presented in this research, a number of events should be organized in different regions to increase the awareness of both students and parents about growing demand for jobs in computer science and the importance of formal education. Further investigation is required to determine how a change in the informatics curricula could positively impact the motivation of students taking into account new expectations of students and parents.

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