Student motivations, opportunities, abilities and self-efficacy : making the case for engagement in event studies
The aim of this paper is firstly to examine through a series of four research questions whether the Motivation, Opportunity, Ability (MOA) Model (Hung et al 1999, Jepson et al 2013, 2014) and the self-efficacy component of Bandura’s (1986) social cognitive theory can help determine how students engage with their programme of study. And secondly to determine the factors which influence student engagement in event management degree programmes. The research will also seek to understand how event management students engage with their reading, and within classroom based environments such as lectures and seminars. In doing so the paper aims to contribute to existing debates on; inclusive teaching and learning in higher education, and provides a link towards creating more professional and employable graduates. Self-efficacy refers to beliefs about one’s capabilities to learn or perform behaviours at designated levels (Bandura, 1986, 1997). Much research has demonstrated that self-efficacy influences academic motivation, learning, and achievement, particularly within science, technology, English and mathematics (STEM) subjects (Rittmayer & Beier, 2008; Pajares & Graham, 1999; Pajares, 1996; Schunk, 1995; Pajares & Miller, 1994). Research by Schunk (1995) and later Pajares (1996) has revealed that self-efficacy influences academic motivation, learning, and achievement. Self-efficacy theory is grounded in a larger theoretical framework known as Social Cognitive Theory (SCT), which postulates that human achievement depends on interactions between one’s behaviours, personal factors (e.g., thoughts, feelings, instincts, or beliefs), and environmental conditions (Bandura, 1986, 1997). Learners obtain information which allows them to appraise their self-efficacy from their actual performances, their vicarious experiences, the persuasions they receive from others, and their physiological reactions and reflections. Self-efficacy beliefs influence the type of activity a person chooses to try, the effort that they choose to exercise in the activity, how persistent they are in trying to complete the activity, the resilience they show to adapt to the activity and finally their level of achievement within the activity (Bandura, 1997; Schunk, 1995). In essence students, who do not doubt their learning capabilities and feel efficacious for learning or performing in an activity tend to participate more readily, work harder, persist longer when they encounter difficulties, and achieve at a higher level. This research aims to investigate the frame conditions mentioned which surround self and group efficacy and seeks to reveal whether SCT can be used to better understand the engagement and subsequent performance of undergraduate event management students. This study is exploratory and unique in the sense that it employs SCT normally found within psychological studies to better understand the performance of students within event management degree programmes. This paper is timely especially as growing attention is being directed toward student employability and the professionalisation of the events industry (Thomas & Thomas, 2013). The methods employed within this research will be in the form of an adapted semi-structured questionnaire (n=106) which measures and analyses student; motivation, opportunity, ability and self/group efficacy. The questionnaire will be distributed across all levels of undergraduate event management students (FEHQ 4, 5, and 6) through the use of simple convenience sampling technique. Questionnaire analysis will take the form of SPSS data input and then testing will take place to reveal key associations, themes and patterns. Analysis will then be triangulated across the main research themes to form valid conclusions and future research considerations. It is hoped that analysis will enable academics to better understand the role of MOA and self-efficacy and how this develops over a programme of study, and therefore be in a better position to boost self-efficacy to ensure students gain the best possible educational experience and results in their time within Higher Education.