Jonathan Smith

Associate professor, département d'enseignement préscolaire et primaire, Université de Sherbrooke

Regular member

  • (2018) Doctorate (Educational Sciences, Educational Psychology option). Université de Montréal.
  • (2012) Master's degree with thesis (Educational Sciences, Educational Psychology option). Université de Montréal.
  • (2007) Bachelor’s (Educational Sciences, Special Education option). Université de Montréal.

I remember learning in an undergraduate course that children are usually very excited when they enter school, but that this enthusiasm quickly dissipates and is replaced by indifference or even dislike. I particularly recall charts showing that students’ sense of competence and interest in learning—which play a key role in the complex dynamic of motivation—fade year after year until the end of high school.

I felt a great sense of relief when I saw this data! I myself had never been very motivated at school and I realized that this was true for most of my classmates. This observation was the spark that made me want to pursue a master’s degree and eventually a doctorate in order to demystify this complex (motivational) dynamic and identify practices that can influence it positively. Through my research to date, I have been interested in the changes in motivation to learn at different stages of schooling, particularly during sensitive periods such as transitions. Certainly, I have observed that motivation to learn tends to decrease. But I found that some students were able to maintain a certain level of motivation and, for the most part, were very positive about the quality of their relationships with their peers and teachers. This reminds us that interpersonal relationships fill a basic need and can indeed have a very significant influence on the relationship that students develop or cultivate with school. Through my research, I strive to identify such factors that positively influence motivation to learn, a dynamic that supports not only academic adjustment but also psychosocial adjustment and, in this, my research falls under GRISE Axes 1 and 2.

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