Purpose: Human Anatomy & Physiology [HAP] courses are considered “difficult” by both faculty and students, and many students fail to pass the courses. An attempt was made to understand how students’ academic motivations may contribute to their success or failure in these courses. Method: The project used a non-experimental design with a convenience sample. Students in five sections of HAP I and HAP II were invited to complete an anonymous 42-item questionnaire that included an adapted version of the Academic Motivation Scale [AMS], six demographic questions, and eight questions about their academic behaviors in and perceptions of their HAP course. A total of 461 students (69% response rate) completed the questionnaire. Analyses included 1) reliability for the seven AMS subscales, 2) correlations among the subscales, among the eight questions about their behaviors and perceptions, and between the subscales and the behavior and perception questions, and 3) a multivariate multiple regression with the AMS subscales as independent variables and the behavior and perception questions as dependent variables. Results: The AMS was successfully adapted to apply to HAP courses with reliabilities comparable to previously published data. Students’ levels of intrinsic motivation and amotivation, but not extrinsic motivation, were significantly related to their academic behaviors and perceptions of the courses. Conclusions and Recommendations: Despite high levels of extrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation did not appear related to students’ academic behaviors. HAP instructors may need to consider alternate routes to influencing students’ academic success behaviors, as it appears that attempts to influence their extrinsic motivations may not essentially translate to changes in academic behavior.


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