Student Motivation for NAPLAN Tests


  • Lauren Belcastro James Cook University
  • Helen Boon James Cook University



motivation, NAPLAN, accountability, media, high stakes testing


The current 'Education Revolution' in Australia has witnessed the shift to greater accountability in outcomes, transparency in practice, and comparable data at a national level. The National Assessment Program as endorsed by MYCEEDYA and implemented by ACARA, has come to encompass NAPLAN testing, which was quick to become a household name thanks to constant political and media attention. Among such attention we have become most likely to encounter arguments of its place in education from key stakeholders such as bureaucrats, politicians, administrators, teachers and parents, with an increasing silence of the key participants within this regime: the students. The project reported on here offers a greater understanding of how students think about high-stakes testing, how influences such as the media influence student attitudes, and how motivational and social goals influence participation in NAPLAN. The project focuses on social learning theory and goal theory in regard to participation in NAPLAN testing, with a slant towards students‟ motivation and self-efficacy expectations. Research has shown that motivation and self-efficacy are leading determinants in the achievement of learning outcomes. Exploring these factors within the context of participation in NAPLAN testing has provided data that shows how students are thinking about this high stakes test in terms of value, preparedness, and social and motivational influences.

The year 9 cohort of a large regional North Queensland high-school was invited to participate in a sequence of surveys that explored the way students think about NAPLAN and how students determine and prepare for participation. Preceding the development of the surveys, a focus group session was undertaken with a representative group of the same cohort in order to initially gauge and begin to understand how students in this particular context thought about NAPLAN testing. The sequential surveys took place one week prior to the 2011 NAPLAN test and one week following the 2011 NAPLAN test. The questions on the pre-test survey directly aligned with the questions on the post-test survey which allowed for correlations of student responses to be made after the test had actually been completed.

Preliminary results from independent t-test analyses show that student mastery and performance goals and self-efficacy reports remain stable post NAPLAN testing. However, reflections of preparedness for the test show significant differences in their perceived levels of preparedness pre- and post the test, while their affective responses pre- and post the test indicate that they experienced a greater level of anxiety than they had expected before the actual test. Implications of these results for all students and students in rural areas in particular are discussed in the paper.




How to Cite

Belcastro, L., & Boon, H. (2012). Student Motivation for NAPLAN Tests. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 22(2), 1–20.