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Academic motivation and demotivation among grade 12 learners at a quintile 3 secondary school in the Langeberg district, Western Cape
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Motivation is an important part of any learning situation: it determines how learners approach academic tasks, enhances learners’ performance and affects how well learners pay attention. Lack of motivation to learn and engage in academic tasks is one of the most prominent academic problems affecting learners in schools today. The research problem is that in the Grade 12 classroom at the researched school there are learners who are motivated to learn and work hard to achieve success, and others who lack motivation and simply do the minimum. This study aims to establish what factors motivate or demotivate Grade 12 learners to learn at a quintile 3 secondary school in the Cape Winelands, Langeberg district of the Western Cape. Quintile 3 schools serve learners from low socio-economic households. These schools have been declared no-fee schools and are generally situated in poor socio-economic neighbourhoods. The study objectives were to determine how Grade 12 learners explain what motivates and demotivates them to learn, and to determine how Grade 12 teachers and school management experience their Grade 12 learners’ academic motivation at this school. This study adopted a combination of Maslow’s (1943-1954) Theory of Human Motivation and Deci and Ryan’s (1985-2000) Self-determination theory as conceptual frameworks. This study was set within an interpretive paradigm and made use of a phenomenological qualitative research design. The sample included ten Grade 12 learners, six Grade 12 teachers and three school management team members. The data collection methods that were used are semi-structured interviews and focus group interviews. The results of the research study identified various critical factors that contribute to Grade 12 learners’ motivation to learn: parent-child relationship, parental support and involvement, breaking the cycle of poverty, basic needs, self-efficacy, reward and recognition, goals, learning environment and teachers. The study found that purpose has a major influence on the motivation of Grade 12 learners. When learners understand the purpose of learning and achieving, they attach more value to learning and become motivated to learn. The study contributes to existing knowledge relating to learner motivation, particularly Grade 12 learners’ motivation to learn in the context of poor socio-economic communities in the Western Cape. The study concluded with recommendations on motivating Grade 12 learners to learn. Recommendations were made in order for parents, teachers and school management to improve their practice of motivating Grade 12 learners.