Date: 15 Dec 2012

CLASSROOMS AND CULTURE: THE ROLE OF CONTEXT IN SHAPING MOTIVATION AND IDENTITY FOR SCIENCE LEARNING IN INDIGENOUS ADOLESCENTS

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ABSTRACT

Many rural indigenous communities rely on science knowledge and innovation for survival and economic advancement, which requires community members to be motivated for learning science. Children in these communities have been viewed by some as unmotivated due to their low science achievement as they progress in school, particularly into majority secondary schools. Current theories of motivation, such as achievement goal theory, take classroom context into account when examining individual motivation. However, motivational climate can also be considered as tightly woven with the cultural and social practices of a community rather than individual perception. In this study, researchers spent time in two indigenous villages observing classrooms, participating in community events, and talking with community members. During those visits, Attayal/Sediq children in Taiwan (n = 18) and Mopan Mayan children in Belize (n = 18) participated in three semi-structured interviews about their experience learning science in school, home, and community. Results indicate that motivation for learning science is closely linked with their identity as science learners. Three themes emerged to illuminate how social practices may or may not support individual identity, and consequently motivation, for learning science—student/teacher relationships, support for learning, and motivational climate. Differences between children in Taiwan and Belize are explored. Implications for motivation theory, educational practice, and policy are discussed.