Relationship between achievement motivation and performance in English composition writing among secondary school students in Nyando District, Kenya
Ouma, Nicholas Omondi
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The ability to achieve communicative competence in composition writing is a major facet of language development among students. However, there has been poor performance in this subject among students in secondary schools. This has been consistently reflected in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) results. The poor performance has impacted negatively on other subjects in the curriculum as English in the medium of instruction. There have also been complaints from employers and tertiary institution educators that most form four graduates cannot communicate well in creative or functional writing tasks outside school. This study was concerned with the motivation of students in composition writing. The study investigated the relationship between achievement motivation and performance in English composition writing among secondary school students. Relevant literature was reviewed to provide the rationale and strategy for the study. One significant finding from the literature reviewed was that students with integrative motivational orientation in language learning, also known as intrinsic motivation, performance better than those with instrumental motivational orientation (Extrinsic motivation). Another finding was that use of process approaches to composition writing have led to better results than product oriented approaches. The study design was descriptive survey method. The survey was both comparative and correlational in nature. From a population of secondary schools in Nyando District, Kenya, the sample drawn comprised students and teachers from seven schools. One was purposively selected on the basis of its high performance in KCSE English, while the other six were selected through stratified random sampling. The six schools comprised two were from each of the three types of schools, i.e. boys' , girls' and mixed. Data were collected using three instruments: Questionnaires, Thematic Apperception Test (T.A.T) and Achievement Test in composition writing. The achievement test had two test items, namely, functional and creative composition writing. To establish the existence of any relationship, pupil performance in the achievement test in composition, was correlated with their motivation levels as obtained from both the questionnaire and Thematic Apperception Test. Pearson's product moment correlation coefficient was used for this purpose. Results from the study indicate that though students are highly motivated in composition writing there is no significant between motivation as obtained through self-attributed motives, and performance. A number of possible reasons could be given for this lack of correlation. First, self-report questionnaires require self-reflection and students tend to overrate the effort they invest in writing practices, which may not be commensurate with their actual performance in writing tasks. Secondly, there may be other intervening personality, school and instructional variables that account for performance in composition writing. These may include intelligence, aptitude, resources and quality of presentation among others. This is unlike achievement motivation (n-Ach) or implicit motives as obtained through TAT which, though low in students, slightly but significantly correlates with performance. The implication of the low n-Ach scores is that students do not strive for success in competition with some standards of excellence. This may be the result of nor having clear and achievable goals in their writing endeavours. Secondly, the high motivation levels as obtained through self-report questionnaires indicate that students have a general desire to invest effort in learning, which should be tapped, and channeled towards enhancing performance in composition writing. This study recommends that teachers explore and use a variety of methods in motivating students, apart from encouraging them to get a clear idea of their audience in composition writing. They should also encourage peer teaching and evaluation while laying emphasis on the enhancement of linguistic and communicative competence among students. Lastly, schools should strive to equip libraries with relevant reading materials.