Student Summer Scholars Manuscripts

First Advisor

Dr. Brittland DeKorver


Chemistry | Education


Schroeder Fellow




According to social constructivism and the self-determination theory, knowledge is constructed via social interaction and social factors have the ability to undermine and facilitate intrinsic motivation. This implies that the relationship between a teacher and a student can have a major impact on the student’s learning. Though current research indicates that student motivation tends to decrease upon receiving disrespectful or vague feedback from instructors, there is little of this type of research done on undergraduate chemistry students. This project aimed to further investigate the relationship between instructor feedback and student motivation in chemistry courses by interviewing students currently enrolled in undergraduate chemistry classes. We assessed their reactions to different types of feedback that differed on levels of specificity and respectfulness: specific vs. vague and respectful vs. disrespectful, for a total of four feedback groups. Predictably, the specific/respectful feedback received the most positive responses from students and the vague/disrespectful feedback received the most negative responses. Generally, students had more positive responses to the vague/respectful feedback than to the specific/disrespectful feedback, indicating that students attribute their changes in motivation more to the tone of the feedback than the specificity of the feedback. Additionally, students are heavily influenced by their perception of the professor; if the professor seems approachable, the student is more likely to report an increase in motivation in the course. This result supports the ideas proposed by social constructivism and the self-determination theory because it indicates that the relationship between the student and the professor is influential in the student’s learning process.