How students’ inspirations and aspirations impact motivation and engagement in the first year of study

LACEY, Melissa M, SHAW, Hollie, ABBOTT, Nikki, DALTON, Caroline J and SMITH, David P (2022). How students’ inspirations and aspirations impact motivation and engagement in the first year of study. Education Sciences, 12 (12): 885.

aspirations.pdf - Published Version
Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (800kB) | Preview
Official URL:
Open Access URL: (Published version)
Link to published version::


Within this study, we aim to better understand the inspirations and aspirations of first year Biosciences and Chemistry undergraduates, how these change over the first year of study and their impact on motivation and engagement. Participants were asked to write a short reflective piece at the start of Welcome Week in their first year of undergraduate study. Thematic analysis identified four themes surrounding inspirations and aspirations. The most common theme was students naming a specific career as their aspiration (58%), followed by being inspired by work experience, aspiring to undertake further study and finally personal experience of a specific illness. Our findings showed that students’ career aspirations differed depending on ethnicity, with ambitions for medicine and laboratory work showing a marked increase in some ethnically marginalised groups. Focus groups undertaken at the end of the first year of study highlight increased motivation and engagement when students feel their course content aligns with their career aims. Conversely, students are disengaged by course material they feel is irrelevant to their chosen career. Here, we will discuss the impact of these findings on creating an inclusive curriculum and the career readiness of the student body. Conclusions apply to career development modules and how the applied nature of a course can lead to engagement and higher motivation for students as well as curriculum design.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1301 Education Systems; 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy; 1303 Specialist Studies in Education
Identification Number:
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2022 16:26
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2023 08:46

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics