Motivation is the critical element in teaching and learning. Yet many students frequently appear amotivated and avoid doing mathematics. These students are often unsuccessful in mathematics which can have long-term negative effects on their academic careers. This research examines the behaviours and beliefs of four students displaying avoidance or non-start behaviour in a Mathematics 10 classroom. The purpose of the study is to discover the reasons underlying the avoidance behaviour. The method of narrative inquiry was used to create stories which could then be analyzed to interpret the participants’ behaviours. Five theories of motivation were used in the analysis: cognitive-emotional, social-cognitive, social-emotional, self-determination theory, and amotivation. Analysis of the observations and narratives resulted in an incomplete picture when each of the discussed theories is used alone. Results suggest that a combination of theories is needed to study avoidance behaviour.
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