A comparison of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors as predictors of civil engineering students' academic success

Hector Martin, Christelle Sorhaindo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Students' academic performance is stymied when there is a lack of motivation to learn. It is hypothesised that intrinsic motivational factors are more prevalent than extrinsic factors in civil engineering students with high academic performance and that motivation does not remain constant throughout a degree. Cognitive theory is utilised with a cross-sectional design to evaluate 148 students enrolled in a three year BSc. Civil Engineering program. Principal component analysis reduced twenty-two positive variables to five factors (Personal, Perfectionist, Parental/Family, Job/Career, and Social Acceptance) contributing towards student's overall motivation. Using ANOVA at a significance level of p ≤ 0.05, the motivational factors that differed between academic years of study were Perfectionist Motivation and Job/Career Motivation. These differences provide a basis for the further examination of the time-varying nature of motivation. While intrinsic motivational variables were shown to have a more positive effect based on the mean responses, as a factor it was not wholly successful in predicting academic performance, rather extrinsic factor social acceptance accounted for high grade-point averages. Trends indicate motivational factors vary by age, gender, and local versus foreign origin. These result provide a greater understanding of precisely what impulses students are guided by during their studies and provide foundation for focus areas to be explored by educators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-472
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 TEMPUS Publications.


  • Academic performance
  • Civil engineering
  • Cognitive theory
  • Motivation
  • Undergraduate student

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


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