Impact of attitudes and opportunities to learn on student academic achievement

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Abstract

Enhancing students’ attitudes and opportunities to learn (OTL) in school are expected to have positive impacts on student learning. However, the current research literature presents complex and inconsistent patterns of the effects of these variables on student achievement as the magnitude of this association may change in specific contexts, such as, year level and learning areas. Moreover, the data reported in the literature is collected in different contexts. This presents a number of limitations to making generalisations about the impact of attitudes and OTL on achievement. Studies differ in the scales (constructs) they use, how the instruments are administered, the curriculum areas investigated, and the purpose of the investigation. Therefore, the biggest challenge in answering the question of how attitudes and OTL are related to academic achievement depends on how validly these constructs are assessed. Besides, the extent to which these variables affect student achievement when considered together is still unknown.
The National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement (NMSSA) assesses students’ achievement, attitudes and OTL in similar ways each year for different learning areas of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). This unique feature of NMSSA allows us to get comparable results for the attitude–OTL–achievement relationship for different learning areas.
The purpose of this study was to investigate and better understand the effects of student attitudes and OTL on Year 4 and Year 8 students’ achievement in two learning areas of the NZC (e.g. mathematics, science, or English: reading). The study used nationally representative data from the NMSSA project with a total sample size of approximately 5,000 students from 200 schools for each learning area.
Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) with Mplus 7.0 was employed to test the hypothesized relationships amongst the variables of achievement, attitudes and OTL.
The paper will present the significance of the predictors (attitudes and OTL) and the size of their direct and indirect effects on students’ achievement. This paper will also describe the amount of variance explained by these predictors. In this way we will be able to determine not only the impact of these predictors on achievement, but also the relationship between them for different year levels and different learning areas. The findings of the study are expected to have implications for teachers, educators and policy makers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventNew Zealand Association for Research in Education (NZARE) Conference 2016: The Politics of Learning - University of Victoria, Wellington, New Zealand
Duration: 20 Nov 201623 Nov 2016
https://www.wgtn.ac.nz/education/about/events/past-events-archived/nzare-conference

Conference

ConferenceNew Zealand Association for Research in Education (NZARE) Conference 2016: The Politics of Learning
Country/TerritoryNew Zealand
CityWellington
Period20/11/1623/11/16
Internet address

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