Students’ Perceptions of Teacher Support and Motivation as Predictors of Academic Engagement and Achievement in Secondary Schools in Machakos County, Kenya
Mutisya, Elizabeth Nduku
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Poor performance among secondary school students in national examinations has been a major concern to education stakeholders. Although local research has linked poor performance to student, teacher, home and school factors, the social context within which learning occurs has received little attention. The purpose of this study was to determine whether students’ perceptions of teacher support and academic motivation predicts academic engagement and achievement among secondary school students in Machakos County, Kenya. Specifically, the relationships among students’ perception of teacher support, academic motivation, academic engagement and achievement were determined. Prediction equations and gender differences were also established. Self-determination and Expectancy-value theories guided the study. The study adopted a predictive correlational research design. The target population was form three students in public secondary schools in Machakos County, 2019. Purposive, stratified and simple random sampling were used to select 10 public secondary schools and 600 students (300 boys; 300 girls) in Machakos County. Data was collected using self-report questionnaires. Form three students’ mean scores for mid-term 1 2019 examination were used as data for academic achievement. Piloting of the instruments was done among 40 students selected from one public secondary school in Machakos County that did not participate in the final study. Quantitative data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 22.0. Descriptive statistics summarized the data while inferential statistics consisting of Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation Coefficient, multiple regression, t- test for independent samples and ANOVA tested the research hypotheses at p < .05 level of significance. From the findings, both students’ perceptions of teacher support and academic motivation had significant and positive relationships with academic engagement (r (578) = .47, p < .05; (r (578) = .61, p < .05); with academic achievement (r (578) = .49, p < .05; (r (578) = .73, p < .05), respectively. Academic motivation was a stronger predictor of academic engagement (β = .50, p < .05) compared to students’ perceptions of teacher support (β = .23, p < .05). The prediction equation of academic achievement from academic engagement was significant (F (3,576) = 93.38, p < .05). No significant sex differences were found in both students’ perceptions of teacher support and academic motivation. Exploratory analysis found that students’ academic engagement varied by school type, while academic achievement varied by school type, age and sex of participants. School administrators should encourage self-determination among students to foster intrinsic motivation in a supportive learning environment. In-service teacher training programs should focus on strategies for enhancing students’ autonomy, competence and relatedness to enhance their academic engagement and achievement.