Case study six — “Underachievement” — tells about Lashandra Jones, who used to be a perfect student and participate in various activities in high school. However, the high school counselor Mr. Murphy examined Lashandra’s record and concluded that much of its credit goes to the fact that she simply followed all the teacher’s instructions for each assignment. She avoided the classes she knew she could fail, “overstudied for every test” and “rarely read anything that was not required for the course” (Campoy, p. 86). Still, that was Lashandra’s way of maintaining her high GPA and great relationships with her teachers.
At one point, Lashandra informed Mr. Murphy that she would be attending a community college. The counselor was greatly surprised by the girl’s decision and arranged a meeting with her parents. Lashandra’s parents turned out to be very supportive of their daughter and the decision she had made, which made Mr. Murphy angry. Lashandra’s parents claimed that their daughter can attend whatever she wants with her life and that “while academics were important there were other qualities that were necessary for success in life” (Campoy, p, 87). Obviously, Mr. Murphy could not wrap his head around the news that such a perfect student will not be attending a prestigious college, and that lead to the conflict between the counselor and Lashandra’s parents.
It is an interesting case study, because, even though Lashandra is academically successful, she is not using all of her capabilities when it comes to expressing herself and her potential; therefore, she is an underachiever. The conflict between the counselor and the parents represents the clash of different values and perspectives of what is most important in education. The two perspectives, in this case, are extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation.
The first one assumes that “the environment will provide all motivation for students to learn” (Campoy, p. 88), while the second one stresses that “motivation to learn is derived from within the learner and is based on internal interests and needs of the student” (Campoy, p. 89). In Lashandra’s situation, Mr. Murphy’s opinion comes from the intrinsic motivation perspective, and the parents represent the extrinsic perspective. Lashandra herself seems to be motivated exclusively by extrinsic factors in her learning. It is best to leave it up to Lashandra to decide what she wants to do with her future and let the parents keep being a great support system for her.
Campoy, R, W. (2005). Case Study Analysis in the Classroom: Becoming a Reflective Teacher. Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.