Achievement motivation is not a fixed quantity. Rather, it depends, in part, on one’s subjective construal of the learning environment and their place within it – their narrative. In this paper, we describe how brief interventions can maximize student motivation by changing the students’ narratives.
We review the recent field experiments testing the efficacy of social-psychological interventions in classroom settings. We focus our review on four types of interventions: ones that change students’ interpretations of setbacks, that reframe the learning environment as fair and nonthreatening, that remind students of their personal adequacy, or that clarify students’ purpose for learning.
Such interventions can have long-lasting benefits if changes in students’ narratives lead to initial achievement gains, which further propagate positive narratives, in a positive feedback loop. Yet social-psychological interventions are not magical panaceas for poor achievement. Rather, they must be targeted to specific populations, timed appropriately, and given in a context in which students have opportunities to act upon the messages they contain.
Social-psychological interventions can help many students realize their achievement potential if they are integrated within a supportive learning context.
Silverman, A. and Cohen, G. (2014), "Fostering Positive Narratives: Social-Psychological Interventions to Maximize Motivation in the Classroom and Beyond", Motivational Interventions (Advances in Motivation and Achievement, Vol. 18), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 177-211. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0749-742320140000018005
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