Motivational Needs of Family and Consumer Sciences Education Students

Karen Lord Rutter
Loganville (GA) High School

Bettye P. Smith
Helen C. Hall
University of Georgia


The purpose of this study was to examine the motivational needs of secondary students enrolled in family and consumer sciences (FCS). The study was based on McClelland's motivational needs theory. Results indicated that FCS students were motivated by the need for achievement more than the need for affiliation and by the need for affiliation more than the need for power. FCS students who became members of Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) had a higher need for affiliation and power than those who were not members.


Theories of motivation have been a focus of study throughout the 1900s. In education, motivation and support are key indicators of success ( Bloom, 1985 ). According to Vallerand, Blais, Briere, and Pelletier ( 1992 ), motivation could be perceived as one of the most important psychological concepts in education. However, the relative importance of intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation is still debated among educators ( deCharms, 1976 ; Deci, 1975 ), and educators and students differ on whether intrinsic or extrinsic motivation is more important. In the Stanford and Couch ( 1985 ) study, Future Homemakers of America/Home Economics Related Occupations (FHA/HERO) advisors and members had different views of what motivated members. Members of FHA/HERO expressed a preference for intrinsic forms of recognition such as respect for others, self satisfaction, and achieving personal goals. On the other hand, FHA/HERO advisors felt that students wanted and responded best to extrinsic rewards such as trophies, plaques, and compliments and praise.

Theoretical Framework

Motivation research in education has centered on goal theories ( Brophy, 1983 ; Ford, 1992 ; Locke & Latham, 1990 ) and has a long standing history in studies of psychology. However, goal theories do not really address the issue of what energizes or moves behavior. On the other hand, needs theories are based on the idea that people have different needs, and searching to satisfy those needs is what motivates, energizes, or moves behavior. Needs provide the force for all behavior including perception, thought, and action ( Pintrich & Schunk, 1996 ). Therefore, a needs-based theory was chosen for this study.


The main purpose of this survey study was to determine the motivational needs of students enrolled in FCS programs. A secondary purpose was to determine and compare the motivational needs of FCS students who were members and nonmembers of FHA/HERO. Research questions for this study were:



The target population included all students in Georgia, grades 9-12, enrolled in 207 FCSE programs having a nationally affiliated FCCLA chapter which totaled 7,988 students. Cluster sampling was chosen to identify programs for this study. Twelve schools were randomly chosen with two schools selected from each of the six Georgia Department of Education districts to ensure an adequate sample size. FCSE programs with affiliated FCCLA chapters were sorted according to district then selected through a drawing.


Phone calls were made to the 12 program instructors selected in the random drawing to describe the study and request their participation. A cover letter requiring a principal signature, an instruction sheet, and appropriate number of surveys for each class was sent to the school. Instructors received a self-addressed, stamped manila envelope for returning completed surveys. Follow-up phone calls were made to all teachers to thank them for returning the surveys or to remind them to return them as soon as possible. All of the teachers from the 12 schools who were invited to participate administered and returned a total of 1,030 student surveys.


The instrument used for measuring motivation needs was developed by Turner ( 1996 ) in a study of Agricultural Education students and FFA members. Turner modified the questions from an instrument used by Chusmir ( 1989 ). The questions were developed based on the three qualities of achievement, affiliation, and power identified by McClelland ( 1987 ). Five statements focused on nAch, nAff, and nPower for a total of 15 statements. An example of a nAch statement is: I try to win as many awards as I can. An example of a nAff statement is: I try to work in a group instead of by myself. An example of a nPower statement is: I tend to organize and direct the activities of others. A 5-point Likert scale was used (1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = undecided, 4 = disagree, 5 = strongly disagree). Although recent arguments have been established for using Likert-type scales without an undecided choice, Chang ( 1997 ) stated that there seems to be little difference in findings as long as the numerical scale is clearly defined and consistent which was the case in this study.

Data Analysis

Means and standard deviations for each construct were calculated to determine motivational needs. One-way Analysis and variance (ANOVA) tests were calculated with the level of significance established at.05. Upon finding significance with the omnibus tests, Tukey HSD was completed to adjust for multiple comparisons of the same data.


On each scale, the three factors were summed to create a composite score ranging from a low of 5 (strongly disagree) to a high of 25 (strongly agree) where 5.0 to 9.00 was strongly disagree, 9.01 to 13.00 was disagree, 13.01 to 17.00 was undecided, 17.01 to 21.00 was agree, and 21.01 to 25.00 was strongly agree. The highest mean was for nAch ( M = 19.09, agree) and nPower had the lowest mean ( M = 16.91, undecided) for students enrolled in FCS programs (see Table 1). In the omnibus test, the FCS students expressed a higher nAch than nAff, but a higher nAff than nPower at the.05 level. Th nAch represents the students' primary motivational need; however, the other needs were present. The ANOVA found that there were statistically significant differences in the students' nAch, nAff, and nPower. The nAch (Table 1) was significantly greater than the nAff, while the nAff was significantly greater than the nPower.

Conclusions, Discussion, and Recommendations for Further Research

First, FCS students in this study had a higher nAch and a higher nAff than a nPower. Second, there were statistically significant differences in the nAch, the nAff, and the nPower for FCS students. Third, FCS students who were members of FCCLA had a higher nAff and a higher nPower than FCS students who were not members of FCCLA. Fourth, both FCCLA members and nonmembers had a nAch. From these findings, we concluded that the students in this study who were enrolled in FCSE classes were intrinsically motivated.


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