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The Relationship between Motivation and English Attainment among Rural

Secondary School Students

Doreen Primus

This research is aim to identify the relationship between motivation and English attainment among form two
students in a rural school of Perak. There are 181 respondents took part in this study. Research design for this
study is correlation descriptive. Questionnaires were used to collect data and SPSS17. 0 were used to analyzed
the data. It is also stated that gender and parents’ occupation did not make a difference on their motivation
level. Their level of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation were measured and the findings are their level of
motivation are correlated with their English attainment.

Keywords: Extrinsic motivation, Intrinsic Motivation, rural secondary school, English attainment

1. Introduction
The English language has been extensively spoken and used in Malaysia for many years, so
much so that it has automatically turn into the second language of the country. Nearly every
household in the city in Malaysia uses English, even if it is not the first language of the
house. With the world becoming smaller due to globalization, the value of the English
language, which has been dubbed the international trading language, is very much evident
(Mohan, Gopala, Shashi, Irma, Norashikin Mohamed Noor (2010).

In Malaysia English subject is taught and a compulsory subject from the primary level until
secondary level. Surprisingly, in that eleven years of learning English, students are still in the
very low of proficiency in mastering English (Mohan et. al, 2010). There are lots of factors
that said to be contribute to this miserable situation. Among the factors are less infrastructure
and students motivation. The students’ motivation has been discussed by many scholars and
this factor is the main reason of low achievement in school. Furthermore there will be a
discussion on issues that related to motivation and academic attainment among students in
the rural.

There are lots of studies about student English attainment in particular and infrastructure condition
concludes that the feature of the physical environment significantly affects student attainment in
English. There is plenty of research to state without evasion that the building in which students
spends a high-quality deal of their time learning does in fact influence how well they learn
(Earthman, 2004). Earthman also concludes that poor school condition makes the students possess
lack of motivation to come to school and perform poorly in English academic. Schools at least
possess a library or a resource centre for the students to look for books. Rural schools are lack of
these facilities and contribute the low academic attainment especially English language. Thus when
there are no resources and no access to learn English resulting in poor English grade.

Researchers have begun to recognize those aspects of the teaching state of affairs that
improve students' self-motivation (Culpepper, 2010). To support students to become self-
motivated self-regulating learners, instructors can give common, early, positive feedback that
supports students' beliefs that they can do well (McCombs, 2009). The instructors also can
ensure opportunities for students' achievement by conveying tasks that are neither too easy
nor too difficult. Also the instructors can assist students’ find personal meaning and rate in
the material. Moreover the instructors can generate an atmosphere that is open and positive
and finally help students feel that they are appreciated members of a learning society.

It is very vital for all parties concerned in education, especially the school sketch and realizes
a variety of events to improve student attention and motivation. The school must offer a
positives atmosphere schooling to move their motivation to create successful learning
patterns (McCombs, 2009). This is because the school ambience is a vital factor in
determining the superiority of learning for pupils in schools to decide the efficiency of a
school. Apart any steady and consistent any educational program is intended and
implemented, it will not wholly accomplish the results if the students are not interested to
learn. According to Brown (2001), even if attendance is quite acceptable does not promise
the physical existence of mind participation. Seen students fail to take full advantage of
teaching and learning process. This is because many students do not have a pledge to their

There is a tough national stress on the significance of being able to speak, read and write
English as all good jobs necessitate skill in English, learning English is extremely vital and
getting off to a good start in basic school is serious (Challenge and Change in Further
Education, 2008). Regrettably, according to Odama (2011) in Democratic Education Only for
some: Secondary schooling in Northern Uganda, many rural primary and secondary schools
are congested and are short of adequate textbooks and teaching material. Often, the only
classroom equipment available is a blackboard. Children are often squeezed into small
classrooms, and most schools do not have a library.

The teachers at these rural schools by and large are competent and are very devoted. Like
teachers elsewhere, they frequently have to use personal funds to obtain classroom materials.
On the other hand, most teachers in developing countries are not well paid and can ill-afford
to use their own funds (UNESCO, 2005). The low salaries and poor working setting have led
many knowledgeable teachers to give up and work abroad, where salaries are much higher.
Some of the teachers you will work with may not be fully capable in English, even though
they have good teaching skills; professional expansion opportunities are very inadequate for
them (Odama, 2011). A native English speaking volunteer, who lacks teaching knowledge,
could team up with that teacher to serve as a language tutor.

According to Richard (2006) language learners study a language, because they want to
obtain, utilize, and converse with those who speak the language, or possibly they want to get
to know their culture and learn about the country where the language is spoken. Though,
what is going to happen if school insists students to learn a second language that school
chooses whether they wish to learn it or not. It is clear that students who don’t want to study
the language will not be bright to do well in class.

If we take a glance at circumstances in Japan, English is set to learn as a second language

from junior high school (Cotter, 2011), so that means at least three years of necessary study
for all Japanese. If you go onto high school, you will have to learn English for additional
three years. It is also in the progression of implementing in basic school in the near future.
With all the hard work we put into learning English, many of the students will not be able to
obtain the skills we need to converse. Motivation is considered as learning has something to
do with this situation. Motivation determines the degree of attempt you put into foreign or
second language learning. The extra motivation you may have, the more endeavours you tend
to put into learning the language. It leads to achievement in learning. From this point of view,
it is fairly significant to motivate students to learn a second language. Additionally, there will
be a review of the literatures on motivation and provide an overview of what motivation
consists of and how we can motivate students on second language learning.

The objectives of this research are to:

1. To identify the level of English attainment among respondents.
2. To identify the level of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation among respondents.
3. To identify the difference of motivation level based on demographic among
4. To identify the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation among
5. To identify the relationship of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation with English

2. Literature review
Rural schools mostly have lack of amenities such as the library and computer lab. This is one
of many factors that make students to feel not motivated coming to school resorting to poor
attendance and poor academic attainment. Considering other approaches, but given the
Malaysian rural school context and the facilities available in rural schools, and given the
benefits of extensive reading that have been documented by research, we felt that motivating
students to read extensively in English would be the most effective long-term means to help

them increase their vocabulary in English, and ultimately, their proficiency in the language
(Ratnawati &Ismail, 2003)

Moreover, Richardson (2011) also discussed that some of the conditions in rural schools that
may contribute to that academic decline could be poverty, lack of qualified teachers, teacher
biases, poor learning conditions, and low teachers expectations stated.

Alanis (2004) consider that rising skills in English is among second or foreign language
learner is the most severe. Classroom environment must possess an enrichment program that
makes use of the native language, a natural learning environment, a secure and trusting
ambiance, a classroom library with various levels and languages represented student-
generated books and group-constructed texts, and a home reading program. She also said that
activating prior knowledge also crucial in promoting English attainment among second
language learner. Teachers must link bicultural knowledge with set in meaningful and
relevant language.

A book written by Cary (2000) places its importance on teaching strategies and the
incorporation of the four language strands of speaking, listening, reading and writing.
English teachers in second language learner environment must familiar with these strands of
language. In wide statements the author claims that learning language through content is very
effective and engaging provided the suitable teaching strategies are used. According to Cary
again, the ideal English language learning classroom is outgoing, constructivist and mutual.
It addresses teaching language in content classroom the need for engaging content, strategies,
realia and mutual learning is stressed.

(Guay, Chanal, Ratelle, Marsh, Larose& Boivin, 2010) refers motivation as the reasons of
underlying behavior. Ryan (2001) broadly defines motivation as something that possess
element that moves us to do or not to do something. Intrinsic motivation is motivation that is
animated by personal enjoyment, interest, or pleasure. As Deci and Ryan (1999) observe and
stated in their research that intrinsic motivation energizes and sustains activities through the
spontaneous satisfactions inherent in effective volitional action. It is manifest in behaviors
such as play, exploration, and challenge seeking that people often do for external rewards.
Researchers often contrast intrinsic motivation with extrinsic motivation, which is motivation
governed by reinforcement contingencies. Broussard (2004) states that conventionally,
educators consider intrinsic motivation to be more desirable and to result in better learning
outcomes than extrinsic motivation

According to Slavin (2006), intrinsic motivation is what gets one going, keeps one going, and
determines where one is to go. Motivation is one of the factors that contribute to academic
success. It drives a student internally to achieve good grades in their academic. Slavin (2006)
also states that it is important for both parents and educators to understand why promoting
and encouraging academic motivation from an early age is very important. In this case,

parents as the boost in developing extrinsic motivation among their children. Extrinsic
motivation is crucial to a student’s academic success at any age.

They found that teacher involvement was the strongest predictor of student motivation.
However, other studies have shown that African American students, as well as other
ethnically diverse and low income students, feel that they receive significantly less support
from their teachers than European Americans students (Tucker, Zayco, Herman, 2002).

According to the study Nabilah Hashim in Abd. Shukor and Yaakob Daud (2005), students
with good academic performance in English language are those who practice active learning
in and outside the classroom while students with low academic achievement are those who
practice passive learning. Researchers think that they are practice active learning are those
who have a high level of motivation while those who adopt a passive learning is that they
with low motivation or not motivated.

Coetzee (2011) argue in her research on other researchers study the relationship between
intrinsic motivations for learning. He compared two groups of students, traditional and
mature students with learning approach. His findings from 160 samples showed that intrinsic
motivation and academic attainment in English language have a relationship. More mature
female students scored higher on intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are both essential in academic settings, as has been seen in
the above discussion of these two forms of motivation. Mnyandu (2001) reaffirms this by
stating that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are often required in English academic
achievement, because intrinsic motivation cannot always be relied upon, because not all
academic tasks are interesting. She also states that it is imperative that educators acquire a
broad understanding of both of these forms of motivation in order to help the learner use a
particular type of motivation that is best suited to a particular learning situation and that will
facilitate success.

3. Methodology

The design of this study is descriptive correlation and quantitative survey using a
questionnaire in which they are intended to examine the relationship between motivation and
academic attainment of students of rural school in Perak. The sample of this research is 181
form two students in Tanjung Piandang. The sampling technique used in this study is
purposive sampling.

4. Result

Data that obtain from the section A in the questionnaire compromise of respondents’
background such as gender, age, ethnic, parents’ occupation and English test result. A total of
200 were sent to the respondents and 190 (95%) were returned.

The table below showed the demographic of the respondents. Female sample size is twice as
larger than the male sample size which is 127 and 63 respectively. Even though these
samples are studying in the same level of form four, there are three ages identified which is
16, 17, 18 years old. Most of the respondents are form farmer background and their English
result is only a pass which carries 42.6%. Most of the respondents are from the Malays which
carries 95% of the sample size.
Table 1: Respondents Demography

Demography No. of respondents Percentage

Male 63 33.2
Female 127 66.8
14 181 100
Malay 173 95
Chinese 6 3.3
Indian 2 1.7
Professional 9 4.8
Support service 17 8.9
Farmer/ 141 74.2
Business Owner 23 12.1
English Test result
A 4 2.1
B 14 7.3
C 33 17.3
D 81 42.6
E 58 30.7
Total N=190 100

Table 2: Level of Intrinsic, Extrinsic and Overall Motivation

Types of Motivation Low Medium High Mean Standard
(1.00-2.33) (2.34-3.67) (3.68-5.00) deviation
Intrinsic 5 120 65 3.38 .543
(2.6%) (63.2%) (34.2%)
Extrinsic 7 132 51 3.30 .529
(3.7%) (69.5%) (26.2%)
Overall 6 126 58 3.34 .531
(3.2%) (66.3%) (30.5%)

The level of motivation among respondents is generally at medium level. Students whom
possess high level of motivation also record 30% of the respondents. However students who
possess the lowest motivation only record 3.2% which is not crucial. Most students (60%)
record possesses medium level of motivation. It is somewhat good news because the
respondents actually need more skills and knowledge in obtaining good grades or at least a
pass in English subject in their test.
Table 3: Analysis Means of Intrinsic Motivation Items

Item Mean SD Level
1. I wish I could speak many foreign languages perfectly 3.1 1.0 Medium
3. I don’t pay much attention to the feedback I receive in my 3.0 1.1 Medium
English class.
5. Learning English is really great 3.1 1.1 Medium
7. I have a strong desire to know all aspects of English. 3.0 1.0 Medium
9. I don’t bother checking my assignments when I get them back 3.4 1.02 Medium
from my English teacher.
11. I really enjoy learning English 3.4 1.1 Medium
13. If it were up to me, I would spend all of my time learning 3.4 .97 Medium
15. I enjoy the activities of our English class much more than those 3.4 1.0 Medium
of my other classes
17. Studying English is important because it will enable me to 3.6 .96 Medium
better understand and appreciate the English way of life
19. I want to learn English so well that it will become natural to me 3.5 1.0 Medium
21. To be honest, I really have little interest in my English class. 3.51 .95 Medium
23. It worries me that other students in my class seem to speak 3.36 1.00 Medium
English better than I do
25. I’m losing any desire I ever had to know English 3.4 .96 Medium
27. I like my English class so much; I look forward to studying more 3.4 .98 Medium
English in the future.
29. I plan to learn as much English as possible 3.4 .95 Medium
31. To be honest, I don’t like my English class. 3.4 .96 Medium
33. I really work hard to learn English 3.5 .95 Medium
35. To be honest, I really have no desire to learn English. 3.4 .90 Medium
37. I think that learning English is dull. 3.4 .96 Medium
39. I look forward to the time I spend in English class 3.5 .93 Medium
41. I can’t be bothered trying to understand the more complex 3.5 .94 Medium
aspects of English
43. I really like my English teacher 3.4 .96 Medium
45. I wish I were fluent in English 3.3 .94 Medium
47. I haven’t any great wish to learn more than the basics of English 3.4 .91 Medium
49. When I leave school, I will give up the study of English because I 3.4 1.6 Medium
am not interested in it.
51. English is one of my favourite courses 3.4 .94 Medium
53. My attitude toward English speaking people is favourable 3.3 .89 Medium
55. My desire to learn English is weak 3.3 .88 Medium
57. My motivation to learn English is low 3.4 .89 Medium
59. My interest in foreign languages is high 3.3 1.0 Medium
61. I will make an effort to listen to English program on the radio 3.3 .96 Medium
63. I want to pass the English exam because of the reward from the 3.3 1.0 Medium
65. I want to pass the English exam to get acknowledge from the 3.3 1.0 Medium
67. I want to pass the English exam so that my parents will give me 3.3 .99 Medium

According to the table above, we can conclude that all the items have a medium level of
intrinsic motivation. However some of the items might have a lower mean (item 1 and item
5). Some item have upper medium mean (item 17, 19 and 21). The three questions (17, 19,
21) concerning questions that classroom related for English subject. For students with
intrinsic motivation, they do not expect an incentive or a reward due to the activities
conducted itself has been rewarding and satisfaction to them (Hassandra, Goudas, Chroni
2002). Azizi and Kamaliah (2005) states that someone will have a high intrinsic motivation if
a psychological condition encouraged doing something because of her enthusiasm for
something. To answer the objective the first study, this study showed that intrinsic motivation
of students is at high level. This shows that students have a high intrinsic motivation emerged
from factor of interest to learn or a matter of curiosity. Students with high intrinsic
motivation because they like to study in university and they like the subject being offered
that allows them to think critically This may be because the motivation to learn which strong
in students causes them to want to go to college. This supported by Dunn and Dunn (1978) in
Siti Liyana and Hee (2011) which states built on intrinsic motivation when there is an
internal motivation in students to participate in learning. However thus, these findings
conflict with a study conducted by Azizi and Kamaliah (2005), entitled 'The relationship
between self-concept, Motivation and Parenting Style Student achievement. The findings of
their study show that intrinsic motivation students are at the same level.

Table 4: Analysis Means of Extrinsic Motivation Items

Item Mean SD Level
2. My parents try to help me to learn English 3.1 1.1 Medium
4. I look forward to going to class because my English teacher is 3.1 1.0 Medium
so good
6. I don’t think my English teacher is very good. 3.1 1.0 Medium
8. Studying English is important because I will need it for my 3.3 1.0 Medium
10. My parents feel that it is very important for me to learn 3.2 1.0 Medium
12. My English teacher is better than any of my other teachers 3.4 .97 Medium
14. My parents feel that I should continue studying English all 3.4 .97 Medium
through school.
16. My English teacher has a dynamic and interesting teaching 3.4 1.0 Medium
18. My parents have stressed the importance English will have for 3.5 .91 Medium
me when I leave school.
22. My English teacher is one of the least pleasant people I know 3.4 1.0 Medium
24. Studying English is important because it will be useful in 3.3 1.0 Medium
getting a good job
26. My parents are very interested in everything I do in my English 3.4 .96 Medium
28. My English teacher is a great source of inspiration to me 3.4 1.0 Medium
30. Studying English is important because I will be able to interact 3.4 1.0 Medium
more easily with speakers of English
32. Most foreign languages sound crude and harsh. 3.5 .95 Medium
34. I would prefer to have a different English teacher. 3.4 .93 Medium
36. Studying English is important because other people will 3.5 .97 Medium
respect me more if I know English
38. I enjoy meeting people who speak foreign languages 3.3 .95 Medium
40. My parents encourage me to practice my English as much as 3.5 .90 Medium
42. The more I get to know native English speakers, the more I like 3.4 .96 Medium
44. My English teacher doesn’t present materials in an interesting 3.3 .88 Medium
46. I am sometimes anxious that the other students in class will 3.3 .98 Medium
laugh at me when I speak English
48. I would rather see a TV program dubbed into our language 3.3 .87 Medium
than in its own language with subtitles
50. My parents think I should devote more time to studying 3.4 1.0 Medium
52. You can always trust native English speakers 3.3 .91 Medium
54. My motivation to learn English for practical purposes 3.3 .92 Medium
especially to get a good job
56. I worry about speaking English outside of class very much 3.3 .97 Medium
58. My parents really encourage me to learn English 3.3 .91 Medium
60. My parents have no support if I want to learn English during 3.4 1.1 Medium
The table above shows the analysis item for extrinsic motivation. It can be concluded that all
respondents have a medium extrinsic motivation. Item 18, 32, 36, 40 and 66 shows upper
medium mean. This question is about parents support and respondents are extrinsically
motivated because of encouragement from parents. According to Azizi and Mazeni (2006),
extrinsic motivation created by external stimuli to move a person to do an activity that will
benefit to himself. Forms of extrinsic motivation are the stimulus for such praise, incentives,
gifts, grades and climate conducive environment to encourage students to learn. For answer
the third research question, the study shows extrinsic motivation is at a medium level.

Table 5: Motivation Level Among Different Gender

Types of motivation Gender N Mean t Sig.

Intrinsic Male 63 3.38 -0.98 .26
Female 127 3.39 -0.99
Extrinsic Male 63 3.30 0.41 .30
Female 127 3.30 0.41

Jo¨nsso and Devonish (2008) in “Does nationality, gender and age affect
travel motivation” support the findings of this research noted that different gender do not
play an important part or not affecting motivation. It means that both male and female has no
significant difference whether high or low a motivation is.

Table 6: Motivation Level Among Different Parents’ Occupation In Rural Area.

Types of Parents’ N Mean f Sig.

motivation occupation
Intrinsic Professional 9 3.54 .59 .62
Support service 17 3.46
Farmer 141 3.35
Business owner 23 3.44
Extrinsic Professional 9 3.38 .37 .78
Support service 17 3.36
Farmer 141 3.28
Business owner 23 3.37

The study of parents’ socio-economic status and pupils’ education attainment in selected
primary schools by Onzima (2011) suggest that there are no significant between the different
parents’ occupation and the level of motivation among respondents. The study shows that
regardless of the parents’ occupation and socio-economic status, they still want their children
to excel in their studies. Therefore their children are well motivated regardless of their socio-
economic background. This research has supported the findings of this research.

Table 7: Motivation Level Among Different PMR English Result In Rural Area

Types of motivation English test N Mean f Sig.

Intrinsic A 4 4.12 4.86 .00
B 14 3.65
C 33 3.48
D 81 3.39
E 58 3.21
Extrinsic A 4 4.01 5.55 .00
B 14 3.58
C 33 3.46
D 81 3.28
E 58 3.13

According to the findings of this research there are significant differences of motivation level
among different English result in rural area. The significant of intrinsic motivation to English
attainment is .001 and for extrinsic motivation is .001. It shows that that both intrinsic and
extrinsic motivation has significance on academic attainment. There are various researches
that support this finding.
Many theorists distinguish between internal and external sources of motivation. For example,
Ryan and Deci (2000) describe intrinsic motivation as an internal drive that compels
individuals to engage in specific behavior such as learning. Extrinsic motivation, on the other
hand, is the result of external sources that influence behavior, often through the use of threats
and rewards. Both sources of motivation may influence academic achievement by reinforcing
behaviors that increase student success.

Table 8: The relationship of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation with English

Intrinsic Extrinsic
motivation motivation English result
Intrinsic motivation Pearson Correlation 1 .962** .295**
Sig. (2-tailed) .000 .000
N 190 190 190
Extrinsic motivation Pearson Correlation .962** 1 .321**
Sig. (2-tailed) .000 .000
N 190 190 190
English result Pearson Correlation .295** .321** 1
Sig. (2-tailed) .000 .000
N 190 190 190
**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

When Pearson’s r is close to 1, it means that there is a strong relationship between the two
variables. This means that changes in one variable are strongly correlated with changes in the
second variable. In the table above, Pearson’s r is 0.295. This number is very close to 0. For
this reason, we can conclude that there is a weak relationship between intrinsic motivation
and English attainment variables. Moreover, extrinsic motivation also has weak relationship
with English attainment (0.321). However, we cannot make any other conclusions about this
relationship, based on this number. The Sig. (2-tailed) is the p-value associated with the

Table 9: The comparison between English test grade and motivation

(I) English result (J) English result Difference (I-J) Std. Error Sig.
E D -.16 .08 .33

C -.29 .11 .05

B -.44* .15 .02

A -.89* .26 .01
D E .16 .08 .33

C -.13 .10 .69

B -.28 .14 .30

A -.73* .26 .04

C E .29 .11 .05

D .13 .10 .69

B -.14 .16 .89

A -.59 .26 .17

B E .44* .15 .09

D .28 .14 .30

C .14 .16 .89

A -.45 .28 .52

A E .89* .26 .01

D .73* .26 .04
C .59 .26 .17

B .45 .28 .52

*. The mean difference is significant at the 0.05 level.

The table above shows a significant difference that only occurred between those who obtain grade E with
grade B and A, those who obtain grade D with A and those who obtain grade A and E. It can be concluded
that those who obtain grade E in their English test have a significant difference with those who obtain
5. Conclusion

It seems that in the classroom, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can and do coexist in
achieving good grades in English. When deliberate independently, these two orientations
proved only reasonably correlated, signifying that they symbolize two rather orthogonal
magnitude of motivation slightly than merely the conflicting ends of a solitary measurement.
The current study suggests that the serious issue is not whether a child is intrinsically or
extrinsically motivated but how much intrinsic and how much extrinsic motivation that child
showed in learning English (Lepper, Corpus, Henderlong, Iyengar, 2005).

From a practical viewpoint, this makes ideal logic. In reality, it may be relatively adaptive for
students to look out for activities that they find intrinsically enjoyable while concurrently
paying consideration to the extrinsic consequences of those activities in any precise
perspective. In learning English language, seeking only instant pleasure with no
consideration to external contingencies and constraints may significantly decrease a student’s
potential outcomes and opportunities. On the other hand, attending only to extrinsic
constraints and incentives can significantly weaken intrinsic interest and the enjoyment that
can come from learning itself (Lepper et al, 2005). Without doubt, the current outcome
confirms the value of self-regulating assessments of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations
in English learning.


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