In Quebec, as in many western societies, the acquisition of knowledge and skills in the areas of language and mathematics is key to professional success.

Students who experience academic difficulties in one of these subjects are at a higher risk of facing a difficult life course. In the light of this observation, researchers and education professionals are increasingly concerned with understanding the factors which improve students’ motivation and success. Our research studied the influence of the attitudes and instructional practices of French and Mathematics teachers on academic commitment, motivation and success in teenagers.

Students who experience academic difficulties are at a higher risk of facing a difficult life course.

Overall, our results indicate that for the majority of young people, motivation and performance decrease during the course of the year, or over a period of a year. However, there is some variation between students, in particular according to the class to which they belong and the practices used by their teachers. Indeed, while many practices and attitudes used by teachers do not appear to contribute directly to their students’ desire to learn, feelings of competence and academic success, other practices and attitudes (for example, evaluative practices and those based on performance, teacher satisfaction, etc.) do make a significant contribution.

Our study has led to two main recommendations. First of all, it would be pertinent to establish within schools a continuous system for monitoring and auto-evaluating the practices used by teachers in their classes. We also recommend financing research-intervention projects aimed at developing, adapting and evaluating new teaching practices which will increase the motivation and success of all students.

Main researcher

Isabelle Archambault, Université de Montréal

Research report

Call for proposals

Deposit of the research report: July 2009