Motivation in Education at a Time of Global Change: Volume 20

Cover of Motivation in Education at a Time of Global Change

Theory, Research, and Implications for Practice

Table of contents

(14 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xiii
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Abstract

The increased complexity of educational processes at times of global change calls for new research and theoretical inquiry to address how changes such as economic, social and political disruption, financial recession, international migration, and new and rapid technological advancements affect education, schools, and student learning and adjustment. Specifically for motivation in education, the fundamental assumption is that, on the one hand, change and challenge have a significant impact on students’ and educators’ motivation to learn and achieve and, on the other hand, motivation can have a significant impact on students’ and educators’ capacity to cope with change and challenge effectively. This chapter introduces the reader to the present volume in the Advances in Motivation and Achievement Series which is dedicated to the role of motivation at times of change and uncertainty.

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Part I Current Motivational Theories at a Time of Global Change and Uncertainty

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We discuss the development of achievement motivation from the perspective of Eccles and colleagues’ expectancy-value theory (EVT), focusing on the importance of children developing positive expectancies for success and valuing of achievement to help them cope with change and uncertainty. Although research has shown that, overall, children’s expectancies and values decline, recent studies show many different trajectories in the overall pattern. Children’s expectancies and values predict their school performance and choices of which activities to pursue in and out of school, with these relations getting stronger as children get older. When children’s expectancies and values stay more positive, they can better cope with change and uncertainty, such as the increasing difficulty of many school subjects, or broader changes such as immigrating to a new country. Parents can buffer children’s experiences of change and uncertainty by encouraging them to engage in different activities and by providing them opportunities to do so. Parents’ positive beliefs about their children’s abilities and discussing with them the importance of school can moderate the observed decline in children’s ability beliefs and values. For immigrant and minority children, parents’ emphasis on the importance of school and encouragement of the development of a positive sense of their racial/ethnic identity are critical buffers. Positive teacher–child relations also are a strong buffer, although research indicates that immigrant and minority children often have less positive relations with their teachers. We close with a discussion on recent EVT-based intervention research that shows how children’s beliefs and values for different school subjects can be fostered.

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The idea that education should be made relevant to students is long-standing and pervasive in American society. Recently, motivation scientists have clarified important characteristics of students’ relevance beliefs, ways to intervene, and individual characteristics moderating intervention effects. Yet, there has been little consideration of the role of situational constraints and sociocultural influences on students’ relevance appraisal processes. We describe how societal changes and broader educational purposes affect the issues that students consider to be relevant to their educational experiences and the values they subsequently attribute to their studies. After differentiating components of relevance and highlighting ways in which particular components may be influenced by changing sociocultural milieus, we consider the implications of these processes for the development of subjective task value beliefs. Specifically, we show how the proposed model of relevance helps to parse out aspects of relevance appraisals that can be used to differentiate between components of subjective task value and argue that there is need to expand current models proposed in expectancy-value theory (EVT). Finally, we explore how recent global events may impact the social construction of educational relevance and constrain students’ developing beliefs about the value of their educational opportunities and implications for future research and educators.

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Given the complexity of societal, technological, and economic challenges encountered by schools and teachers, one may wonder whether and how teachers can still optimally motivate their students. To adopt a motivating role in today’s ever-changing, even stormy, educational landscape, teachers need more than a checklist of motivating practices. They also need a fundamental theoretical perspective that can serve as a general source of inspiration for their everyday classroom practices across various situations and in interaction with different students. Herein, we argue that self-determination theory represents such a valuable perspective. In Part I, we discuss the satisfaction of learners’ psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness as a source of student motivation, engagement, and resilience. We also present a recently developed circular model involving a broad variety of motivating (i.e., need-supportive) and demotivating (i.e., need-thwarting) teaching practices appealing to these three needs. In Part II, we discuss several implications of this circular model, thereby discussing the diverse pathways that lead to student need satisfaction, motivation, and engagement as well as highlighting teachers’ capacity for calibration to deal with uncertainty and change. We conclude that school principals and teachers do well to invest in both students’ and teachers’ psychological need experiences, such that they become skilled in flexibly adjusting themselves to diversity, uncertainty, and change.

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As intervention science develops, researchers are increasingly attending to the long-term effects of interventions in academic settings. Currently, however, there is no common taxonomy for understanding the complex processes through which interventions can produce long-lasting effects. The lack of a common framework results in a number of challenges that limit the ability of intervention scientists to effectively work toward their goal of preparing students to effectively navigate a changing and uncertain world. A comprehensive framework is presented to aid understanding of how interventions that target motivational processes in education produce downstream effects years after implementation. This framework distinguishes between three types of processes through which interventions may produce long-term effects: recursive processes (feedback loops by which positive effects can build on themselves over time), nonrecursive chains of effects (“domino effects” in which proximal outcomes affect distinct distal outcomes), and latent intrapersonal effects (changed habits, knowledge, or perceptions that affect how students respond in different situations in the future). The framework is applied to intervention research that has reported long-term effects of motivation interventions, evidence for the processes described in this framework is evaluated, and suggestions are presented for how researchers can use the framework to improve intervention design. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how the application of this framework can help intervention scientists to achieve their goal of positively influencing students’ lifelong trajectories, especially in times of change and uncertainty.

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Part II Motivation at a Time of Global Change: Individual and Contextual Factors

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Current motivation theory and research face serious theoretical, methodological, and practical challenges. One central challenge is the fact that research has focused mainly on motivation for traditional achievement tasks such as graded assignments and normative educational trajectories. Arguably, current motivation theory and research may be inadequate to characterize adaptive motivation in the uncertain, changing, and unpredictable environments of the twenty-first century. How might motivation researchers conceptualize students’ motivation in such dynamic and complex contexts? How can motivational research inform educators, administrators, and policymakers in designing curricula, pedagogy, and evaluation and accountability systems to prepare students for such a world? In the current chapter, we address these challenges with a perspective on motivation as a complex dynamic system (CDS) that is based in the person’s identity. We begin with a brief review of the challenges to the current prevalent approach to motivation research, highlighting the need for a new paradigm. We then review assumptions of the CDSs approach that render it useful for understanding motivation in continuously changing and unpredictable environments. We then present a CDS conceptual model of identity and motivation that incorporates constructs and processes from a variety of identity and motivational theories – the Dynamic Systems Model of Role Identity (DSMRI). We follow with a conceptualization of the characteristics of the identity-motivation system most adaptive for growth in changing and unpredictable environments. We end by considering the implications of this perspective for motivational theory and research and for educational practice and policy.

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In this chapter, I consider how and why gender continues to impact motivation, task engagement, self-regulation, and educational aspirations, choices, and outcomes among both boys and girls. How can motivation theory and research contribute to understanding gender differences in achievement at school, where girls now tend to do better than boys, especially in less advantaged social groups, and at work, where women still tend to achieve and earn less than similarly qualified men? In the first section of this chapter, I review evidence of gender-related motivational orientations whereby boys tend more to “prove and protect” and girls tend more to “doubt and try to improve” their abilities. I analyze the benefits and costs of these orientations, focusing on how they contribute to the superior school performance of girls, to spurring high-achieving boys to succeed more in later life than similarly able girls, and to placing lower-achieving boys, who often belong to minority groups, at particular risk for academic disengagement. I then consider how boys and girls construct and maintain motivating and motivated beliefs and strategies in interactions with parents, teachers, and peers within the social and educational contexts of their daily lives. In the final section, I first present some educational recommendations that follow from my analysis. I then engage directly with the overarching theme of this volume by considering some broad societal trends that present continuing challenges to educators concerned to promote optimal motivation for learning among both boys and girls in the twenty-first century.

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The role of parental involvement in their child’s education and academic success has been widely acknowledged in recent educational theories, policies, and practices. Parental beliefs and expectations concerning their child’s learning and success have been shown to be reflected in the parents’ involvement in their child’s education and their practices with their offspring, thereby shaping the child’s motivational development in school. In addition, parental trust in their child’s teacher is a key factor in enhancing the home–school partnership and in supporting a child’s academic motivation and successful schooling. However, political, economical, and technological changes in society and uncertainty about the future may present several challenges for raising children in the twenty-first century. The aim of this chapter is to present recent theories and empirical research focusing on the role of parental beliefs, expectations, and trust in their child’s teacher in supporting children’s interest in learning, self-concept of ability, and achievement behaviors in the challenging and unpredictable future. We will also reflect on how the changing world and uncertainty in society may influence parental beliefs and expectations in their child’s success.

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A strong anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiment permeates the political discourse in the United States and many Western European countries. This political discourse, along with policies designed to limit immigration, is likely to influence the academic motivation of students from immigrant groups. In this chapter, we consider how anti-immigrant sentiment in the host countries may affect the motivation and achievement of immigrant and refugee students. Specifically, we apply findings from research examining stress and anxiety, belonging, identity, teacher expectancies, and stereotype threat to speculate about how these motivational factors may be affected by anti-immigrant rhetoric. Next, we use Maehr’s (1984) theory of personal investment (PI) as a framework for integrating the various components of motivation that can be applied to the current plight of immigrant and refugee students. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion about the steps we can take, both at the personal and the policy levels, to counteract the hostile political discourse and promote higher levels of PI in education among immigrant and refugee students.

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Part III Motivation and Current Challenges at a Time of Global Change and Uncertainty

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This chapter aims to seek insight into engagement in context, conceived through Productive Disciplinary Engagement (PDE), which can be perceived as a condition for sustained disciplinary and interdisciplinary interest and motivation. Despite ongoing trends in the design and implementation of enriched learning environments that are expected to boost effective use of material and digital tools along with new sources of information, the empirical research on their motivational and emotional consequences is still in its infancy. These environments challenge, cognitively as well as motivationally, emotionally, and socially, both students and teachers alike. Keeping in mind the challenging times for future learning and work-life, engagement and motivation are discussed with a focus on science disciplines. In these fields, there is a strong call for proficient skills in collaborative team learning, problem-solving, and collective knowledge creation in anticipation of an uncertain, challenging future. Knowledge-intensive work and knowledge demands are escalating along with fast technological development, and simultaneously tasks that demand new, not yet even existing and partly unpredicted knowledge and expertise are increasing. In addition, knowledge and expertise are progressively more distributed, with new knowledge, products and innovations being created in collaboration that crosses disciplinary borders. In this chapter, three case illustrations in different science fields and learning contexts provide empirical evidence for the discussion on the learned lessons from these illustrated studies designed to support PDE, and the potential significance of PDE for productive collaboration, sustained disciplinary interest, and motivation given later development of adaptive expertise.

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Current challenges in the educational sector along with age-related changes during early adolescence contribute to an increased sense of school alienation (SAL) among students. Some of the central concerns of SAL are failure to participate in classroom and socially deviant behaviors. This study examined the change in and cross-lagged relationships among alienation from learning, teachers, and classmates, and different self-reported learning and social behaviors across 508 secondary school students spanning a one-year interval from Grade 7 to Grade 8. The results revealed a slight increase in SAL and a decline in classroom participation. Earlier SAL predicted students’ later in-class participation and delinquent behavior, but not vice versa. The three alienation domains were shown to have different relationships with targeted learning and social behaviors: Alienation from learning and from teachers negatively predicted student classroom participation. Alienation from teachers and from classmates contributed to subsequent delinquent behavior. The study results emphasized the importance of SAL for students’ participation in classroom activities as well as in disruptive behaviors. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings for educational research and practice are discussed.

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Empirical findings have repeatedly demonstrated that students’ motivation decreases over the course of secondary education. This decline in learning motivation is one of the top challenges nowadays and is relevant for policy, as well as research and practice. Taking this educational challenge into account, the chapter targets the following questions: (1) Is a multicomponent, two-year intervention (combined student/teacher versus student-only intervention group) effective regarding the self-determined motivation and academic self-concept in mathematics of at-risk students? (2) How effective is the intervention for students with and without a migration background? And more generally: (3) Does the motivation (including students’ academic self-concept as a motivational self-belief) differ between students with and without a migration background at three different time points (beginning of Grade 7, end of Grades 7 and 8)? The results indicate that the intrinsic motivation of the combined intervention group could be fostered in the first intervention year. No significant treatment effect could be detected for the student-only group. In line with prior research, students with a migration background demonstrated higher levels of autonomous and controlled forms of motivation. However, students with and without a migration background did not develop differently across the two years. Implications for intervention research addressing adolescents’ self-determined motivation are discussed.

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Index

Pages 251-259
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Cover of Motivation in Education at a Time of Global Change
DOI
10.1108/S0749-7423201920
Publication date
2019-03-25
Book series
Advances in Motivation and Achievement
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78754-613-4
Book series ISSN
0749-7423