How can I get that good grade again? Improving Pasifika student achievement in NCEA with a motivation intervention


  • Peter Sanders St Mary’s College, Wellington
  • Andre Boyte Victoria University of Wellington



motivation, achievement, Pasifika, secondary school, assessment


Students who are underachieving in secondary school are likely to hold maladaptive motivation orientations that, unless changed, will have a negative impact on their future achievement. In this study 57 students from two schools with large Pasifika populations were offered supplementary teaching and learning opportunities via two different study skills programmes to improve their motivation and achievement. Participants (including 28 Pasifika students) were randomly assigned to either a traditional study skills (TS) or a motivation-enhanced study skills (MS) programme. NCEA results showed that students in the MS intervention attained more credits and showed significantly greater reduction in the negative motivation orientation uncertain control, compared to students in the TS skills programme. Students also reported that their relationships with their teachers and how their teachers communicated with them about learning was important to their motivation and achievement. Based on these findings, recommendations are made for teacher use of internally assessed NCEA standards as the context for interventions designed to enhance student motivation and achievement, in light of proposed changes to NCEA.


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Author Biographies

Peter Sanders, St Mary’s College, Wellington

Peter Sanders, PhD, is Assistant Principal at St Mary’s College, Wellington. His research is focused on designing, delivering, and evaluating practical evidence-based intervention programmes that improve motivation and achievement outcomes for Pasifika students in New Zealand high schools.

Andre Boyte, Victoria University of Wellington

Andre Boyte is a Masters student at Victoria University’s school of Psychology. Andre’s research area is with political psychology and voter decision-making processes, and he also contributes towards the Youth Wellbeing Study research group as a data analyst and research assistant.