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Predictors of Intrinsic Motivation among University Students: An Application of Expectancy-Value Theory

Mohd Zulkifli Abdullah, Abdul Kadir Othman, Mohamad Shahril Mohamad Besir


There has been much debate on the Malaysian education system that ranges from unemployment to lack of soft skills. None of the local universities are ranked within the top 50 Asian University by Times Higher Education. The country also achieves below global average scores in baseline assessment among its 15-year old students in mathematics and science conducted by the OECD. Another worrisome trend involves graduates becoming pickier in selecting the programs, and opting for the easier route by enrolling in courses that would land them career positions within the secured civil service. Considering these issues, there is a need to understand the motivation of students better to excel in their studies and the factors that drive them to achieve good grades. This study seeks to investigate the relationship between internal and external factors that drive students to be intrinsically motivated to perform in their studies. The internal factors are psychological that comprises of perceived competence and self-determination, while the external factors comprise of social support and learning environment. A field survey involving students from sciences and social sciences disciplines yields 621 usable responses. Results from regression analysis indicate that all the factors are significant in predicting the intrinsic motivation of the students. Self-determination is found to be the most influential factor, while the learning environment is regarded as the least important determinant in this research. Subsequently, implications for both academics and practitioners are further discussed in this paper.


Intrinsic Motivation, Perceived Competence, Self-Determination, Social Support, Learning Environment

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