Thesis Title

The Effects of Student Choice on Achievement and Motivation of Middle School Science Students

Date of Graduation

Spring 2005


Master of Science in Education in Secondary Education in Biology



Committee Chair

Georgianna Saunders


This quasi-experimental study was conducted to determine the effects of student choice on achievement and motivation of middle school science students. Four seventh-grade life-science classes taught by the same teacher served as the experimental and control groups. The subjects in both groups were presented with the same unit on cells and cell theory over a 28 day period. The students in the experimental group received a strategy designed to support autonomy; a choice of two equivalent versions of each of four assignments. Both groups took identical content achievement pre- and posttests. An identical test was given as a retention test nine weeks later. A one-way ANOVA showed no significant difference between the control and experimental groups on any content achievement tests. However, there was a significant increase for all students in learning and retention. These results indicate that student choice did not influence achievement. Two components of intrinsic motivation, interest/enjoyment and perceived choice were surveyed before and after the treatment. One-way ANOVA results showed a significant difference in motivation between the experimental and control groups in both subscales. Students who had a choice of assignments had significantly higher motivation than did students who had no choice, particularly with regard to the received choice component of the motivation survey. Findings from the study indicate that a choice of equivalent assignments could be useful strategy to motivate middle school science students.


autonomy, middle school, motivation, perceived choice, retention

Subject Categories

Science and Mathematics Education


© Mary L. Brockman