Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Curriculum and Instruction PhD

First Advisor

Larry D. Burton

Second Advisor

Tevni Grajales Guerra

Third Advisor

Elvin Gabriel



The growing number of students at the university level in Cameroon created maladaptive behaviors including lack of behavior adaptation, interests, respect, happiness, self-esteem, which led to strikes, vandalism, academic failure and resulting in school dropout (Nwaimah, 2008). The Cameroonian government proposed a number of reforms to solve these issues. One of the major proposed reforms consisted of implementing the Bologna Model in higher education through borrowing and transferring of policies, ideas, and practices from a European higher education area (Eta, 2015; Mngo, 2011). Yet despite the surface progress, the question of how to enhance student learning and improve instruction always remains unsolved. While enrollment numbers are increasing, gaps persist in degree attainment (Eta et al., 2017). This is evidence that the phenomenon of academic motivation is one of the main problems of student success, especially among college students who have negative feelings separation from their parents during college. As a result, these students experience low academic performance and achievement leading to school dropout. Kelly (1988) pointed out that even if best developmental and remedial instructions could improve the learning skills of an academically weak and unprepared student, they could not do so for unmotivated and unprepared students.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of social support and basic psychological needs on student academic motivation of first-year, second-year, and third-year students in the Faculty of Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences (FALSS) at University of Ngaoundéré in Cameroon.

Research Design

The study utilized a quantitative, non-experimental, correlational, cross-sectional, survey design. Structural equation modeling was the statistical technique used to analyze the data. The sample included first- year, second-year, and third-year students from the Departments of History, Geography, and Sociology/Anthropology in the FALSS at University of Ngaoundéré. There were 388 students who completed the questionnaire; however, five missing cases had to be deleted which resulted in 383 study participants. The data was analyzed using SPSS AMOS version 25 to estimate the parameters and to determine the fit of the structural model with the observed data. A statistical significance level of .05 was established for the study.


Results from the analysis of the hypothesized model showed that the initial model did not fit the observed data. However, an adjusted model provided an adequate fit to the data (χ2 = 128,094, DF = 55, GFI = .95, CFI = .97, NFI = .95, and the SRMR = .05). Following the re-specification of the model, there were relatively strong path coefficients for the structural model. There were two predictors with direct effect on student academic motivation: peer support and basic psychological needs. Peer support was the strongest direct predictor for the outcome variable of student academic motivation with a statistically significant coefficient of .67. The direct path from the predictor variable of social support to the mediating variable of basic psychological needs had a strong, positive, statistically significant coefficient of .70. This indicated that the mediating variable of basic psychological needs was a potential contributor to student academic motivation. The direct path coefficient from the mediating variable of basic psychological needs to the outcome variable of student academic motivation was weak with a coefficient of .18. In spite of this weak direct path coefficient from basic psychological needs to student academic motivation, the total indirect effect from the exogenous variable of social support to the outcome variable of student academic motivation was a strong, positive, and statistically significant coefficient of .65. The squared multiple correlation coefficients estimate the magnitude of the results, also called effect size or practical significance, of the statistical findings. The interpretation of the squared multiple correlation coefficients from the structural model indicated that the indirect effects of the exogenous variable of social support accounted for approximately 49% of the variance in the mediating variable of basic psychological needs. The primary finding from this study was the strong direct effect of the predictor variable of peer support on the outcome variable of student academic motivation. This direct effect accounted for approximately 45% of the variance in student academic motivation.


The initial theoretical model, based on a comprehensive literature review and self-determination theory, did not predict a direct effect of peer support on student academic motivation. Thus, the findings did not support the hypothesized pattern of relationships depicted on the initial model. As previous studies with this instrument had been conducted in “Western,” Anglophone cultures, it should not be surprising to learn that self-determination theory is not a good fit for an African, Francophone culture. The findings of this study suggest the need for Cameroonian university teachers and administrators to promote teaching and learning practices that rely on relationship building and peer interaction. Also, this study points to the necessity of continuing research to look for additional factors that may contribute to student motivation in Francophone Africa. This will help create a robust, culturally sensitive theory of student academic motivation for the region.

Subject Area

Academic achievement; Motivation in education; Motivation (Psychology); Education, Higher--Cameroon


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