The Decade Ahead: Applications and Contexts of Motivation and Achievement (Advances in Motivation and Achievement, vol. 16B)

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The Decade Ahead: Applications and Contexts of Motivation and Achievement (Advances in Motivation and Achievement, vol. 16B)

ADVANCES IN MOTIVATION AND ACHIEVEMENT Series Editors: Timothy C. Urdan and Stuart A. Karabenick Series Editor for Volum

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ADVANCES IN MOTIVATION AND ACHIEVEMENT Series Editors: Timothy C. Urdan and Stuart A. Karabenick Series Editor for Volumes 1–15: Martin L. Maehr Recent Volumes: Volume 10:

Volume 11: Volume 12:

Advances in Motivation and Achievement – Edited by Martin L. Maehr and Paul R. Pintrich The Role of Context: Contextual Influences on Motivation – Edited by Timothy C. Urdan

New Directions in Measures and Methods – Edited by Paul R. Pintrich and Martin L. Maehr Volume 13: Motivating Students, Improving Schools: The Legacy of Carol Midgley – Edited by Paul R. Pintrich and Martin L. Maehr Volume 14: Motivation and Religion – Edited by Martin L. Maehr and Stuart A. Karabenick Volume 15: Social Psychological Perspectives – Edited by Martin L. Maehr, Stuart A. Karabenick and Timothy C. Urdan Volume 16A: The Decade Ahead: Theoretical Perspectives on Motivation and Achievement – Edited by Timothy C. Urdan and Stuart A. Karabenick



TIMOTHY C. URDAN Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA, USA

STUART A. KARABENICK Combined Program in Education and Psychology, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

United Kingdom – North America – Japan India – Malaysia – China

Emerald Group Publishing Limited Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley BD16 1WA, UK First edition 2010 Copyright r 2010 Emerald Group Publishing Limited Reprints and permission service Contact: [email protected] No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without either the prior written permission of the publisher or a licence permitting restricted copying issued in the UK by The Copyright Licensing Agency and in the USA by The Copyright Clearance Center. No responsibility is accepted for the accuracy of information contained in the text, illustrations or advertisements. The opinions expressed in these chapters are not necessarily those of the Editor or the publisher. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN: 978-0-85724-253-2 ISSN: 0749-7423 (Series)

Awarded in recognition of Emerald’s production department’s adherence to quality systems and processes when preparing scholarly journals for print

This one is for Frank







Erica Sainsbury alld Jlldi,h MacCallllm





MOlliq/le Boekaerts









Leiden University, The Netherlands

Sandra Graham

University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Alyson Leah Lavigne University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA Judith MacCallum

Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA, Australia

Mary McCaslin

University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA

Kimberley Pressick-Kilborn

University of Technology, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Paul W. Richardson

Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Kelly A. Rodgers

University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA

Erica Sainsbury

The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Paul A. Schutz

University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA

Jacqueline Simcic

University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA

Julianne C. Turner

The University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, USA

Richard Walker

The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Helen M. G. Watt

Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Dana Wood

University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA ix

PREFACE The continuous outpouring of studies from motivation researchers begs for a periodic taking of stock, as well as prognostications about future directions in the field. The dawning of a new decade presents a worthwhile opportunity for such a reflective examination. This volume, the 16th in the Advances in Motivation and Achievement series, published in 2010, offers this reflection on where we stand and where we are going as a scientific discipline in the decade ahead. Volume 16 is divided into two books. Volume 16, Part A contains seven chapters that focus on most of the major theoretical orientations that have guided research on motivation and achievement over the last 30 years. In this, Part B, the second book of Volume 16, chapters focus on connections among motivation constructs and between motivation and other constructs, such as self-regulation and emotion. Motivation research has sometimes focused on specific groups and contexts. We have thus included chapters about the motivation and achievement of teachers, African American students, and motivation in classrooms. Finally, because research on motivation and achievement has implications for policy, a chapter is included that discusses what motivation research has to say to policymakers. The contributors represented are all either emerging or established leaders in their respective subdisciplines in motivation science research, and they represent several countries including the United States, Canada, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, and Australia. First, in Chapter 1, Richard Walker and his coauthors offer an overview of sociocultural theory and its application to research on motivation and achievement. They argue that multiple features of the achievement context, including the characteristics of the individual, the immediate achievement situation, and the larger cultural context, all combine to influence student motivation. Next, the volume contains two chapters that describe research on the connection between motivation and other constructs. Paul Schutz and his coauthors examine the intersection of motivation and emotion (Chapter 2). In Chapter 3, Monique Boekaerts presents a model of the association between motivation and self-regulation, two constructs with a long history of research. Two chapters then examine teachers and classrooms. First, Julianne Turner (Chapter 4) offers a critical analysis of xi



the research on motivation in classroom contexts. She argues that too little motivation research has occurred in classrooms and too little attention has been given to the impediments to applying motivation research in real-world classrooms. Next, Paul Richardson and Helen Watt focus on the motivation of teachers (Chapter 5), including a typology of teachers according to their motivation for entering the profession and the evolution of their motives for teaching as they gain experience. Dana Wood and Sandra Graham (Chapter 6) then examine motivation among African American students. They describe how the various social contexts of development and functioning among African Americans influences their motivation and achievement. The second section and the volume conclude with a chapter by Mary McCaslin and Alyson Lavigne (Chapter 7) in which the authors consider how research on motivation can and should inform educational policy and practice. To rephrase the rationale that prompted this volume, sometimes research on motivation and achievement can feel like a runaway train. Scores of studies are published each year, representing a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives. Even the most diligent scholar can quickly become overwhelmed by the volume of studies and ideas. The two books in this edition of the Advances in Motivation and Achievement series is designed to slow the train down just long enough to take stock of where we are and where we might be headed.

A SOCIOCULTURAL APPROACH TO MOTIVATION: A LONG TIME COMING BUT HERE AT LAST Richard Walker, Kimberley Pressick-Kilborn, Erica Sainsbury and Judith MacCallum INTRODUCTION Until recently, motivation has been considered to be an individual phenomenon. Motivational theorists have accordingly conceptualised key constructs in individualistic terms and emphasised the individual origins and nature of motivation, although they have also long recognised that contextual or social factors have a significant influence on these individual processes. Recently this conceptualisation has been questioned as theorists have suggested, after Vygotsky, that motivation, like learning and thinking, might be social in nature. This idea was first suggested by Sivan (1986) more than twenty years ago but it received a major impetus with the publication of an article by Hickey (1997) eleven years later. Since that time interest in the social nature of motivation has grown as a small number of book chapters and journal articles have been published and conference papers have been presented on the topic. Although some motivational theorists remain sceptical (e.g. Winne, 2004) of this theoretical development, the inclusion of a section on sociocultural approaches to motivation in Perry, Turner, and Meyer’s (2006) chapter on classrooms as contexts for The Decade Ahead: Applications and Contexts of Motivation and Achievement Advances in Motivation and Achievement, Volume 16B, 1–42 Copyright r 2010 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 0749-7423/doi:10.1108/S0749-7423(2010)000016B004




motivating learning in the 2nd edition of the Handbook of Educational Psychology suggests that this perspective is being seriously considered by motivational researchers. Similarly, the inclusion of a chapter (Walker, in press-b) on the sociocultural approach to motivation in the 3rd edition of the International Encyclopedia of Education indicates that this approach has achieved some recognition. In this respect, the field of motivation may be considered to be analogous to the situation of learning and thinking twenty-five years ago when theorists began to question the individual nature of learning and thinking. Over the last twenty-five years sociocultural ideas, developed from the Russian psychologist Vygotsky, have changed the way the educators and psychologists think about learning and thinking. Central to this change has been the recognition that learning and thinking need to be thought of as social in nature rather than individual in nature. This has led to important debates about the nature of learning, changes in the way that learning and thinking are conceptualised, as well as changes in our understanding of the nature of educational institutions which facilitate and promote learning. Although sociocultural learning theorists did not ignore motivation in their writing, they did little more than recognise its importance. An exception is evident in the work of Litowitz (1993) who analysed sociocultural learning in terms of the motivation of the teacher and learner in the creation of zones of proximal development and the subsequent internalisation of knowledge and higher order cognitive skills. Litowitz’s analysis is, however, presented in terms of the psychoanalytic concept of identification, rather than contemporary motivational concepts. Although Vygotsky considered that intellectual and affective aspects of learning were interdependent, his own work foregrounded the intellectual aspects of learning. Sivan’s (1986) seminal article provided the first sociocultural analysis of motivation based on Vygotskian ideas. This article presented motivation as a socially constructed norm which, like other classroom norms, formed the basis on which teacher and student expectations and judgements are made. These expectations include how motivation is displayed in the classroom in the form of motivated behaviour demonstrating interest and willingness to engage in learning activities. Sivan’s (1986) analysis was based on conventional Vygotskian notions such as the zone of proximal development (ZPD), assisted learning, peer learning, internalisation and intersubjectivity. While Hickey’s (1997) article eleven years later led to a consideration of motivation from a Vygotskian sociocultural perspective he was primarily concerned with examining conventional motivation research in relation to the instructional and

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educational reform practices, such as cognitive apprenticeships, which had been derived from sociocultural ideas. While Hickey (1997) discussed broad understandings relevant to motivation from the sociocultural literature, such as the role of context and the extent to which motivation and cognition can be distinguished, he did not analyse any key sociocultural concepts for their motivational relevance. The interest in a sociocultural perspective on motivation sparked by Hickey’s (1997) article, however, for the most part led to a consideration of the role of context in motivation, rather than a concern with the social nature and origins of motivation. This concern with context and the situated nature of motivation is a legitimate consequence of aspects of sociocultural theory; as Hickey (1997) and Goodenow (1992) have recognised Vygotskian sociocultural theory suggests that the social world and the world of the individual are interdependent in many ways, although perhaps not as inseparable as both writers have suggested. Motivational theorists and researchers, however, have focussed on this aspect of the sociocultural perspective and have made it a critical aspect of their research and theorising. This has been especially true of researchers (e.g. Perry et al., 2006) who have attempted the important task of understanding motivation in authentic classroom contexts. However, as Walker, Pressick-Kilborn, Arnold and Sainsbury (2004) have pointed out, the recognition of the contextual nature of motivation is not new. The notion of the person in context has been evident in motivational research (Pintrich & Maehr, 2002) since at least the 1930s when it was emphasised by Kurt Lewin, although this recognition has not always been evident in the methods used by motivational researchers. Thus, while the recognition of the contextual nature of motivation is an important aspect of a sociocultural perspective on motivation, it is not the defining aspect of such a perspective. The central commitment in sociocultural theories of learning and thinking is the understanding that these processes are fundamentally social in nature, that is, they are the result of social processes in the first instance and only secondarily the result of individual processes. Similarly, the defining aspect and key commitment of a Vygotskian sociocultural approach to motivation is a recognition of the social nature and origins of motivation; motivation, like learning, is considered to be the result of social processes in the first instance and only secondarily the result of individual processes. This recognition, as Walker et al. (2004) have pointed out, requires the re-conceptualisation of motivational constructs in social terms. With only a relatively small number of exceptions, most motivational researchers have retained their commitment to motivation as an individual phenomenon while acknowledging the role of



social factors, or context, as influences on motivation. To differentiate these theorists and researchers from Vygotskian sociocultural researchers, Walker et al. (2004), have referred to them as social influence theorists, applying a distinction Rogoff (1998) made in the domain of learning and thinking to the motivational domain; social influence theorists consider that social and contextual factors have an influence on individual motivational processes and functioning. In making the distinction between sociocultural and social influence approaches, however, it needs to be recognised that there are some social influence motivational researchers who refer to their work as ‘sociocultural’. This is most evident in the work of Maehr (1974), for instance, who examined the role played by social and cultural processes in motivation but always considered motivation to be an individual phenomenon; a similar usage is sometimes evident in contemporary motivational writing.

SOCIOCULTURAL AND SITUATIVE APPROACHES TO MOTIVATION The key commitment of sociocultural motivational theorists is their recognition of the social nature and origins of motivation. Accordingly, sociocultural researchers attempt to explain how motivational goals, values, standards and interests are socially constructed, and how they emerge and develop from social interactions and are manifested in collaborative and individual action. Currently, there are several approaches to motivation which have a commitment to understanding the social nature of motivation, and since this commitment has its origins in Vygotsky’s work, all of these approaches are influenced by the Vygotskian tradition to some extent or other. Two clearly differentiated approaches are the sociocultural Vygotskian approach and the sociocultural discourse approach, the former approach being most influenced by sociocultural psychology and the latter approach more influenced by linguistics and discourse analysis procedures. A situative approach to motivation has also been identified by Nolen and Ward (2008); this stream of research has developed from several theoretical approaches, but all of them have been influenced by the Vygotskian tradition. It is to be expected, then, that this approach has much in common with the sociocultural Vygotskian approach, although situative researchers do not explain motivational processes through reference to key Vygotskian concepts. Apart from this important difference, the points of similarity and

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difference between these two approaches are yet to be drawn out and it may be the case that the similarities outweigh the differences; in a publication written before Nolen and Ward (2008) identified the situative perspective Walker (in press-b) had categorised the research in this tradition as sociocultural.

Sociocultural Vygotskian Approach The sociocultural Vygotskian approach has been based on the application of central Vygotskian concepts to the understanding of motivation and has been evident in the writings of McCaslin, Sivan, Hickey, and Walker and colleagues. McCaslin’s work has extended over a lengthy period of time and includes a significant body of empirical research. While her earlier work was explicitly concerned with co-regulation and self-regulation, McCaslin’s more recent work has extended these concerns to motivation and identity formation. Since the publication of his original article (Hickey, 1997) Hickey’s writing has been theoretical in nature and has revolved around debates over the relevance of such theoretical concepts as internalisation or the possibility of epistemological reconciliation. Over the last nine years, Walker and his colleagues have been developing a cohesive approach to motivation which also has relevance for understanding various aspects of learning and identity formation. Much of this work has been theoretical and has extended on Sivan’s original analysis, while some writing has responded to claims made by Hickey. A significant and growing body of relevant empirical research has been conducted by Walker’s colleagues, former and current doctoral students, whose research has focussed on various aspects of this developing approach. McCaslin McCaslin’s sociocultural approach has been developed over a twenty-year period (McCaslin Rohrkemper, 1989; McCaslin & Hickey, 2001; McCaslin, 2004, 2009) and draws on traditional Vygotskian concepts as well as neo-Vygotskian concepts deriving from Wertsch’s work (Wertsch & Stone, 1985). McCaslin’s (McCaslin Rohrkemper, 1989) interest in Vygotskian sociocultural ideas started with the Vygotskian explanation of the way that social regulation, or the regulation of activities by others, is internalised through the creation of zones of proximal development to become individual or self-regulation. To this explanation McCaslin (McCaslin Rohrkemper, 1989; McCaslin & Hickey, 2001) introduced the notion of



co-regulation, a concept which has been progressively expanded since her earlier writings. In her earlier writings (McCaslin Rohrkemper, 1989; McCaslin & Hickey, 2001) co-regulation involves the joint control of an activity by all participants involved in the activity, while in her most recent publication (McCaslin, 2009) co-regulation refers to all of the various sources of influence, social, cultural and personal, which impact on and scaffold the internalisation of regulatory activities. In her more recent writing, McCaslin (2004, 2009) has also used her co-regulation model to explain identity formation, with co-regulation considered to continuously guide or shape an emergent identity. McCaslin’s (2009) model also includes the neo-Vygotskian concept of emergent interaction which is ‘the process through which an individual comes to mediate and internalise social and cultural influences’ (Wertsch & Stone, 1985, p. 137). McCaslin’s (McCaslin & Hickey, 2001; McCaslin, 2004) various research projects, undertaken over the period from the mid-1980s to early in 2000, have focussed on interpersonal relationships in the home and school and were developed from the model of co-regulation which was considered to facilitate the internalisation of social supports and promote adaptive learning. Adaptive learning (McCaslin, 2004) was defined as involving ‘the internalisation of goals, the motivation to commit, challenge, or reform them; and the competence to enact and evaluate those commitments’ (p. 254). As such, adaptive learning research examined the opportunities various home and school environments and tasks allowed for the integration of both affective and intellectual aspects of learning. An important recognition in these projects was the understanding that co-regulation in the ZPD does not always enhance motivation and learning and may actually impede it. That is, while co-regulation may have benefits for learners, sometimes learners influence and regulate each other in ways that lead to diminished learning outcomes and reduced motivation. Taken together, McCaslin’s (2004) projects illustrate the potential of Vygotskian sociocultural ideas for understanding the following aspects of student motivation: ‘(1) the function of task opportunity and the enactment of self-directed activity and motivational beliefs, (2) the affordances of teacher classroom management for student-learning cultural rules of responsibility and citizenship (3) the influence of parent beliefs and behaviour on children’s emergent identity and the negotiation of personal commitments at school, and (4) the power of peer participation in studentvaluing curriculum tasks, learning motivation, and motivation to learn’ (p. 250). McCaslin’s (2004) research demonstrates the relevance of Vygotskian sociocultural ideas for understanding the social nature of

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motivation while also recognising the place of the individual within the sociocultural realm. Walker Walker and his colleagues (Arnold & Walker, 2008; Walker, 2003, in press-b; Walker et al., 2004; Pressick-Kilborn, Sainsbury & Walker, 2005; Pressick-Kilborn & Walker, 2002; Sainsbury & Walker, 2007) have been developing an approach which draws on the work of sociocultural developmental psychologists such as Jacqueline Goodnow, Jaan Valsiner and Barbara Rogoff, as well as Sivan’s (1986) original analysis and some aspects of McCaslin’s work. In this writing, Walker and his colleagues have explicated both a meta-theory and a theoretical approach to motivation. The meta-theory attempts to explain the relationship of the social world to the world of the individual, an understanding which is essential for the development of a fundamentally social view of motivation. Walker and colleagues have also developed a theoretical approach which explains how motivational goals, standards, beliefs and expectations have their origins in various cultural practices, are transformatively internalised through collaborative engagement in these cultural practices, and are then transformatively externalised in collaborative or individual activity. This approach also explains the place of the following Vygotskian and neoVygotskian concepts in understanding motivational processes: the ZPD, canalisation and self-canalisation, intersubjectivity, co-regulation and planes of analysis. These concepts have been used, or are currently being used, in doctoral theses to examine academic regulatory processes (Arnold, 2005; Hyde, in preparation), interest (Pressick-Kilborn, 2010), conceptual change learning (Sainsbury, 2009) and transfer of learning (Hyde, in preparation; Matheson, in preparation). A further doctoral thesis (Punmongkol, 2009), not developed from a sociocultural perspective, provides some relevant insights into the combined effects of self-regulation and emotional regulation on achievement in the mathematics domain. The sociocultural ideas developed by Walker and his colleagues are elaborated in more detail later in this chapter; they are also expanded to consider the relationship between motivation and identity formation. This sociocultural approach has been used as the basis of two substantial empirical investigations into interest (Pressick-Kilborn, 2010; Pressick-Kilborn & Walker, 2002) and self-regulation (Arnold, 2005; Arnold & Walker, 2008), respectively. Key Vygotskian concepts were employed in both studies and the constructs under investigation were reconceptualised to reflect the fundamentally social nature of their origins. Pressick-Kilborn



and Walker (2002) reported an investigation into the emergence and development of interest in a primary school classroom. In the study, interest was conceptualised as emerging from collaborative activities in a fifth grade science community of learners. This conceptualisation emphasised the dynamic and interdependent relationship between the children and their classroom activities for understanding the development of interest, and suggested that traditional distinctions between situational and personal interest were problematic. Studying interest in a real and complex classroom setting presented challenges to distinguishing situational and individual interest along traditional lines. While in some activities, students participated in ways that indicated an ongoing and more personally meaningful form of interest in learning, the situational aspect of interest was always apparent. Similarly, situational features of tasks, such as their hands-on or collaborative nature, contributed to personal experiences of interest in learning in the context of a real classroom. The analysis of the development of interest in the study drew on the integration of several established sociocultural notions: the idea of a community of learners, the ZPD and its extensions (Valsiner, 1997a), and Valsiner’s (1997a) notions of canalisation and self-canalisation. Canalisation refers to the way that cultural practices channel the activities of individuals while self-canalisation refers to way individuals are able to channel and direct their own activities. The canalisation of opportunities in the social world thus creates the context in which values and goals are internalised and from which interest may subsequently emerge. It is important to recognise, however, that individuals may resist these canalisation processes. The investigation extended over a period of six months and involved ethnographic observations in the classroom community, and student and teacher interviews. Students also created personal interest trajectories to indicate their perceived levels of interest in specific science-based activities during classroom lessons and over the duration of the study. These trajectories allowed insights into changing patterns of interest both at the individual and class level. Pressick-Kilborn and Walker (2002) developed individual case studies from their research data and used them to show how the classroom community both promoted and constrained the emergence and development of interest. The case studies also illustrated how classroom science practices canalise interest development, but also how processes of self- canalisation may lead students to resist engagement in these activities, and thus limit their interest development. Arnold and Walker (2008) reported an investigation in which classroom teachers were taught to scaffold and promote regulatory activities

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and processes in their classroom activities. In this study, consistent with sociocultural Vygotskian theory, these regulatory activities and processes were considered to be internalised through collaborative activity and the establishment of zones of proximal development. The internalisation of regulatory activities and processes was conceptualised as resulting in individual or self-regulatory processes. In this quasi-experimental mixed method study, conducted in five fifth grade social studies classrooms, the teachers of two classes received professional development concerning theories of self-regulation and were assisted in developing curriculum materials in social studies which were intended to assist students in constructing regulatory skills and processes. The other three classrooms were control classes. The teachers of the two intervention classes were provided with curriculum support materials in the form of the Planning Organiser which consisted of a series of cartoon-like caricatures used to prompt key questions emphasising effective academic strategies (defining the task, setting goals, planning, monitoring and evaluating outcomes). For the purposes of data collection, intervention and control classrooms were observed before and during the intervention which ran across a tenweek school term, and the achievement of all students was assessed before and after the intervention. All students were also surveyed before and after the intervention to ascertain their perceived competence and goal orientation, and their capacity to monitor their knowledge accurately. Hierarchical linear modelling demonstrated that students who experienced the intervention were more likely to achieve higher scores on the achievement measures than their peers in the control classrooms. In addition to achievement gains, intervention students showed significant improvements in their capacity to engage in metacognitive monitoring. Interestingly, the hierarchical linear modelling data revealed that the intervention influenced students’ achievement and skill attainment in differing ways. Qualitative data in the form of discourse analysis conducted at the whole class and small group interaction levels, as well as at the level of individual student interview responses, demonstrated that the two intervention teachers differed considerably in the extent to which they provided scaffolded instruction, reinforced metacognition, enculturated self-regulated learning and transferred responsibility for learning to students as their capabilities developed. Taken together, the quantitative and qualitative results of this research were ‘highly significant in demonstrating the association between a) the construction of socially supportive classroom contexts and b) the generation of opportunities for students to co-construct and internalise effective academic regulatory processes’ (p. 182).



Hickey Hickey’s sociocultural writing has been concerned with such theoretical issues as the sociocultural worldview, the relationship of the individual and the social, the relevance of the concept of internalisation and the reconciliation of sociocultural theory with other epistemological traditions. Although Hickey’s publications have made liberal use of the term ‘sociocultural’ his ideas and arguments draw heavily on Greeno’s writings on situated and distributed learning and cognition (Greeno & the MiddleSchool Mathematics Through Applications Project Group, 1998) leading him to abandon such key Vygotskian concepts as internalisation. Hickey has also referred to his work as ‘situative’ and his work may ultimately be considered to be a variant of the situative approach to motivation. Hickey (2003) posits a contextualist worldview which makes context the theoretical focus rather than the social origins of motivation and he (Hickey, 2003) asserts that the social world, or context, and the individual are tightly bound or fused with each other, and appears to suggest that they are not distinguishable. These views are quite different from those of McCaslin (McCaslin Rohrkemper, 1989; McCaslin, 2004; McCaslin, 2009) and Walker and colleagues (Walker, in press-b; Walker et al., 2004; PressickKilborn et al., 2005) and raise important issues and problems (Walker, in press-b) concerning the motivational agency of the individual and the reductionist position of the individual in relation to the social world. Hickey and his colleagues (Hickey, 2003; Hickey & Granade, 2004) consider that the focus of motivational theory should be concerned with learner engagement and participation in knowledge practices and the practices of knowledgeable communities. However, as they have argued strenuously that the Vygotskian concept of internalisation is an ‘epiphenomenal artifact’ (Hickey & Granade, 2004, p. 228) they do not agree that motivation, in the form of goals, standards, values and expectations, are internalised to become individual attributes. In fact, Hickey and Granade (2004) consider that the goals and values that support and motivate learners to engage ‘reside in the practices of knowledgeable communities rather than the hearts and minds of individuals’ (p. 224). This view, and the view that the individual and the context are tightly bound, is very similar to that adopted by some neo-Vygotskian learning theorists (e.g. Greeno & the Middle-School Mathematics Through Applications Project Group, 1998) in the late 1990s. These views stemmed from the fact that learning theorists wanted to emphasise the distributed nature of learning and cognition. Amongst sociocultural Vygotskian researchers (McCaslin, 2004; Walker, in press-b; Walker et al., 2004) however, motivation is considered to be an

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attribute of individuals which has its origins in the cultural practices of communities and groups. Cultural practices, including the academic practices of educational institutions, are considered from this perspective to have motivational properties for those who engage in them while the notion of transformative internalisation explains how the values, standards and expectations associated with these practices become individual attributes. In relation to the issue of epistemological reconciliation, Hickey and his colleagues (Hickey & McCaslin, 2001; Hickey & Granade 2004) have argued that the sociocultural approach offers ‘a higher-order synthesis that combines the strengths and minimises the weaknesses’ (Hickey & Granade, 2004, p. 238) of other epistemological traditions (specifically the empiricist and rationalist) in psychology. Walker and Hendry (2005), however, have pointed out that this analysis of epistemological assumptions in educational psychology, and the analysis on which it is based (Greeno, Collins & Resnick, 1996) is problematic. Further explication of this critique is not appropriate here, suffice it to say then that the focus of Hickey’s writing on epistemological reconciliation is with methodological issues involving the relationship of the individual and the social. The relationship of the individual and the social is an important meta-theoretical issue which has been addressed by Walker and colleagues (Walker, in press-b; PressickKilborn et al., 2005) and while our emphasis has been on meta-theory rather than methodology, we would argue that Hickey’s analysis is weakened by his adoption of a contextualist worldview which does not have the sophistication and complexity of the meta-theoretical position that we have advanced. This meta-theoretical position is elaborated further later in this chapter.

Sociocultural Discourse Approach The sociocultural discourse approach to motivation, on the other hand, has generated no theoretical discussion and analysis, although the use of discourse analysis to understand learning in social settings (Gee, 2001; Gee & Green, 1998) has been well developed. This approach to learning has been influenced by Vygotskian writings, but has also been influenced by a range of linguistic and social theorists. While a considerable body of discourse analysis research has examined learning in schools and other social settings, only one empirical study (Middleton & Perks, 2006) has primarily used discourse analysis to investigate motivation, specifically motivational goals. Middleton and Perks (2006) present a view of mastery goal motivation as socially constructed through the written dialogic



interactions of students with their teacher in a writing course. The study examined the writing and motivational goals of 17 students enroled in an elective creative writing class in a rural high school in the United States. A writing workshop approach in the class involved students in extended periods of writing as well as regular conferencing with their teacher. The students were also required to keep dialogue folders which contained samples of their writing and a written dialogue addressed to their teacher concerning their writing and how it was progressing. They were also asked to identify kinds of feedback that would support them in their writing. The teacher collected these folders at the end of every lesson and responded in writing to each of the students. These dialogue folders, many over 30 pages in length, were subjected to a layered discourse analysis which focussed on the situated identities of the students, the discourses they engaged when writing, the terminology and language used, and the cultural models enacted by the students and teacher. The dialogue folders were also analysed for the enactment of mastery goals. The findings of the discourse analysis were developed into a model of mastery engagement in the writing domain. The model suggests that students need to situate themselves as learners of the craft of writing and engage in the discourse of the craft, and students will engage in mastery learning when they adopt the cultural models of the craft. Learning the craft of writing requires the valuing of writing skills, learning the discourse of the craft and the adoption of the cultural norms and ways of thinking inherent within the discourse. As such, the goal of becoming a good writer is intertwined with the adoption of mastery motivational goals.

Situative Approach As noted earlier the situative approach to motivation was identified by Nolen and Ward (2008), and refers to research conducted by Nolen (2001, 2007) and her colleagues (Nolen et al., 2009). This approach has been influenced by Greeno (2006) on one hand, and by Holland and colleagues (Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner & Cain, 1998) on the other hand. The main focus of this approach is the recognition of the social system, for example, the classroom as the unit of research analysis, with earlier research concerned with motivation and early literacy classroom practices (Nolen, 2001, 2007) and more recent research (Nolen et al., 2009) concerned with the motivation of teacher education students in different contexts. In the literacy research, Nolen (2001, 2007) investigated, in a longitudinal study, children’s

A Sociocultural Approach to Motivation


emergent motivation to read and write and its relation to their developing sense of the nature of reading and writing. The study investigated teachers and their students across a four-year period, from kindergarten to the end of third grade, during which time they were observed in class activities and interviewed annually about reading and writing. The study examined teachers’ goals in literacy instruction and the literacy activities students engaged in, and drew relationships between these activities, the students’ understanding of the nature and purpose of literacy, and their motivation to engage in literacy activities. A particular focus of the research was the way teachers and students jointly constructed their literacy activities and, where such opportunities were limited, how students collaboratively reconstructed the literacy activities they were required to engage in. The first year of the study involving kindergarten teachers and their students was reported by Nolen (2001), although the focus of this publication was on a subset of students who were at risk for reading and writing difficulties. Classroom observations showed that while all of the teachers engaged in common literacy activities, they differed considerably in the variety and amount of time spent in various literacy activities. Teachers differed in the extent to which they gave students the opportunity to read and write connected text, to choose their own subject matter and activities, and in how structured classroom activities were. The teachers also differed in the extent to which they emphasised the motivation to learn to read and write, skill development, small and large group instruction, multiple task structures and autonomous student work. Student interviews showed how student understanding of the nature and purpose of literacy is related to commonly employed literacy activities, and how literacy practices and activities are related to student engagement in and liking of those activities. The remaining three years of the study, from grades one to three, were reported by Nolen (2007) and demonstrated that as the social meaning of literacy activity was co-constructed in classroom communities, specific motivations emerged in relation to reading and writing. As with the earlier study, the most frequent and valued activities in classrooms had the greatest impact on students’ perceptions of themselves as readers and writers. Where the emphasis, for instance, was on writing for self-expression and for authentic reasons (an ‘authors’ tea’ involving family and friends) students were developing identities as writers. Some instructional activities also provided opportunities for choice and autonomy while others were more controlling and allowed little room for independent learning. Student motivations, such as interest, enjoyment, mastery and ego concerns,



emerged from these differing instructional contexts and activities. Student motivations and actions were also shown to be related to the students’ differing developmental skill trajectories. In more recent research, Nolen and her colleagues (Nolen et al., 2009) have investigated the learning, motivation and identity formation of teacher education students in university and school practicum placement settings. In this work the university teacher education course with classes, experiences, peers and faculty that constitutes a teacher education program is termed TEPworld. Fieldworld is constituted by the pre-service teachers’ practicum context which includes other student teachers, cooperating and mentoring teachers, school students and classes, as well as the executive staff of the school. In examining learning, motivation and identity in these two different contexts, Nolen and colleagues are mindful that these two different worlds may contain activities, practices, values and assumptions that are in conflict. Pre-service teachers must learn to manage this conflict as they negotiate and learn in each context. Since professional preparation is temporary and time bounded, Nolen and her co-researchers also describe a third world based on the fact that pre-service teachers are developing as professionals. Once their teacher education is complete, they will forge their own future professional and pedagogical practices, in the new context of early career teacher in a new school environment. As a result, they pick and choose from among the practices promoted in TEPworld and Fieldworld that fit with a future imagined teacher self. Nolen and her colleagues have advanced the notion of motivational filters that are used by pre-service teachers to choose and evaluate or reject and filter out the teaching practices they incorporate, or do not incorporate, into their teaching repertoire. The filters are dynamic and complex and emerge from pre-service teachers’ experiences in multiple learning contexts. The components of these motivational filters include their developing teacher identities, their relationships with those promoting the teaching practices, and the perceived fit of the promoted practices with their conceptions of the real world of teaching.

Conclusion While the term ‘sociocultural’ has varied usage, this review of theory and research suggests that it is increasingly being applied to research which is concerned with the fundamentally social nature of motivation. Sociocultural researchers have adopted this view of motivation because they consider that it better reflects the social nature of human action, and in particular, the

A Sociocultural Approach to Motivation


social nature of human action in schools, classrooms and other settings. The sociocultural and situative approaches to motivation, identified in the review, are both concerned with the social nature of motivation, and go beyond the adoption of a simple social influence perspective. The two approaches have some common influences, and while they appear to have much in common, examination and analysis of their similarities and differences have yet to be conducted. A notable feature of both the sociocultural and situative research discussed here is that it has been conducted in naturalistic contexts, or in innovative classrooms with existing teachers, and has involved qualitative or mixed-method research approaches. The sociocultural research examined has been differentiated into work which draws explicitly on key Vygotskian concepts, referred to here as the sociocultural Vygotskian approach, and work which does not, referred to as the sociocultural discourse approach; the sociocultural discourse approach nevertheless has some origins in Vygotsky’s ideas. This latter work, the study by Middleton and Perks (2006), has been classified and named on the basis of the sociocultural discourse method used in the study, a method (e.g. Wells, 1999) which has been much employed in the domain of learning. While research from the sociocultural Vygotskian perspective has been conducted in the area of co-regulation for a considerable time, it is only relatively recently that Vygotskian concepts have been explicitly drawn on to explain motivational processes. This has been a long time coming since Sivan’s (1986) original work, but the empirical research and theoretical debates discussed in this section suggest that the sociocultural Vygotskian approach to motivation may be considered to have arrived at last. This section of the chapter has also drawn attention to the metatheoretical and theoretical debates which have been a feature of the sociocultural Vygotskian literature. These debates have centred on important understandings of the relationship between the social world and the world of the individual; to a considerable extent understandings of the relationship of the social world and the world of the individual have been ignored in the mainstream motivational literature, with researchers content to limit their analyses to context. In the next section of the chapter we elaborate on the meta-theoretical and theoretical aspects of our sociocultural Vygotskian approach to motivation and explain our developing understanding of the relationship between these theoretical ideas and identity formation. We finish this section of the chapter by explaining the interrelationships amongst our theoretical ideas in the context of an empirical study (Pressick-Kilborn, 2010) into the development of interest in a community of learners.



A SOCIOCULTURAL VYGOTSKIAN APPROACH TO MOTIVATION: WALKER AND COLLEAGUES Meta-Theoretical Issues The understanding of motivation as social in nature involves complex issues concerning the relationship between the social world and the world of the individual. Sociocultural Vygotskian theories endorse a social epistemology and accord analytical or theoretical primacy to the social world over the individual world, while recognising that these worlds are closely interlinked and interdependent. According primacy to the social origins of motivation does not, however, mean that explanations of individual motivation can be reduced to social explanations or that social processes determine individual motivation. Sociocultural reductionism (Martin, 2006) and social determinism are avoided in sociocultural Vygotskian theories of motivation through theoretical notions which explain how the social world is internalised and externalised by individuals, and which assert that while there is a dynamic interdependence between the social and individual worlds, they are distinguishable and qualitatively different from each other. Valsiner (1997a, 1997b, 1998) has called this latter idea ‘inclusive separation’ and uses it to explain how bi-directional exchanges occur between the social and individual worlds. Bi-directional exchanges are also explained through such Vygotskian concepts as the ZPD and the notions of transformative internalisation and externalisation. Transformative internalisation and externalisation explain how aspects of the social world are selectively internalised by the individual and then externalised in subsequent social interactions; these processes, as explained below, are active and transformative so that the social world is not imprinted on, or transmitted, to the individual and the individual, in turn, has a unique impact on the social world through transformative externalisations. Taken together these sociocultural Vygotskian theoretical ideas avoid the reduction of personal phenomena to social interaction or social processes at large and recognise the agency of the individual. They explain how individual motivation can have social origins yet the individual’s intrapyschological motivational functioning is still relatively autonomous from the social world. The conceptualisation of individual motivation as arising from the internalisation of social resources implies the existence of boundaries between personal and social worlds as a means of maintaining the integrity and distinctness of each, but a sociocultural Vygotskian approach also

A Sociocultural Approach to Motivation


requires that these worlds exist in dynamic interdependence. The key to maintaining both distinction and interdependence is the notion of inclusive separation (Valsiner, 1997a, 1997b, 1998). Some form of separation is imperative since a failure to maintain a distinction leads to the reduction or fusion of person and social world (Valsiner & van der Veer, 1993; Lightfoot & Cox, 1997; Carelli, 1998). However, in order to recognise the dynamic interdependence of person and social world, Valsiner (1997a, 1997b, 1998) argues that this should be described as an inclusive separation, where the parts of the system are clearly distinguishable from each other and interact with each other in particular ways, while still maintaining the integrity of the system as an integrated whole (Valsiner, 2001). The notion of inclusive separation permits a bi-directional exchange between personal and social, since they are distinguishable from each other, but embeds the exchange within a ‘dynamic feed-forward loop’ (Valsiner, 1997b, p. 247) which mediates ongoing development of motivation both as an individual and social phenomenon. Inclusive separation also favours concepts of personal agency and the relative autonomy of the person from the environment (Valsiner, 1997a), thus permitting a theory of the development of individual differences in motivation within a sociogenetic framework (Valsiner, 1997b). These meta-theoretical and theoretical notions, and in particular the notion of inclusive separation, have been endorsed in our work (PressickKilborn, 2010; Pressick-Kilborn et al., 2005: Sainsbury, 2009; Walker, in press-b; Walker, 2006; Walker et al., 2004) and allow an understanding of the relationship between the social world and the world of the individual that is quite different from that articulated by writers, such as Hickey (Hickey, 1997, 2003; Hickey & Granade, 2004) and Goodenow (1992), who emphasise context and a contextualist worldview. This emphasis, devoid of the complexity involved in the notion of inclusive separation, has led these writers to overemphasise the interdependence of the individual and the social world.

Theoretical Issues As noted previously, our sociocultural theorisation and research into motivation have focussed on the following well known and central aspects of Vygotsky’s writing, along with ideas developed by Goodnow, Valsiner, Rogoff, Sivan and McCaslin: culture and cultural practices, canalisation and self-canalisation, the ZPD, transformative internalisation and



externalisation, interpersonal relations, co-regulation, intersubjectivity and planes of analysis. Taken together these sociocultural ideas contribute to an explanation of the way that motivation, conceptualised as social in nature, is internalised to become an individual process. Culture and Cultural Practices Culture and cultural practices are considered, from our sociocultural Vygotskian perspective (Walker, in press-b), to play a critical role in the construction and emergence of motivation. Cultural practices (Miller & Goodnow, 1995) are recurrent actions or activities that may be maintained, changed or challenged. They are valued by the communities that engage in them and are associated with a sense of belonging or identity and with particular forms of discourse. They help to structure learning and thinking activities and have motivational and affective properties and consequences. The academic practices of the school and the classroom, such as those associated with reading and writing, for instance, are one type of valued cultural practice. Sociocultural Vygotskian theorists (Sivan, 1986; Walker, in press-b; Walker, 2006; Walker et al., 2004) consider that motivation is internalised as learners engage in academic practices, and so can be considered to emerge from these practices. Canalisation and Self-Canalisation Canalisation is a term used by Valsiner (1997a, 1997b) to refer to the ways that a learner’s life may be shaped, moulded and channelled by circumstances which are often outside of their control; for instance, such factors as the country and culture into which a learner is born, as well as their ethnicity. These kinds of factors influence the cultural practices into which a learner may be enculturated and therefore may have a significant impact on the direction of the learner’s life and the opportunities available to them. Self-canalisation refers to the ways that learners shape, mould and channel their own lives. Canalisation processes are likely to greatly influence what cultural practices a learner comes to value and identify with, while self-canalisation processes reflect the learners commitments to and identifications with those practices. Zone of Proximal Development The ZPD refers to the learner’s ability to successfully complete tasks with the assistance of more capable other people, and for this reason it is often discussed in relation to assisted or scaffolded learning. The creation of zones of proximal development involves assistance with the cognitive structuring of

A Sociocultural Approach to Motivation


learning tasks and sensitivity to the learner’s current capabilities. Sociocultural Vygotskian (e.g. Sivan, 1986) and traditional motivational theorists (e.g. Brophy, 1999) have observed that these aspects of the ZPD make it an inherently motivational zone; the ZPD is optimally challenging (Sivan, 1986) because tasks are calibrated to the learner’s level, while appropriate support and scaffolding ensure that tasks can be completed successfully. Assistance from others also helps the child to learn how to work on difficult tasks and to control or manage anxiety and frustration in the process. Additionally, working within the ZPD is inherently motivating because it involves the transfer of responsibility, or control, for learning, from the teacher or more capable other to the learner. This transfer of control is motivating for the student as it acknowledges student mastery of the task, and hence the learner’s developing efficacy. Interaction within the ZPD is also likely to lead to the recruitment of the learner’s interest in the task or knowledge domain as the learner comes to value and appreciate the knowledge which is valued by a respected, more capable other person. Furthermore, as learners come to achieve mastery in a knowledge domain, they are more likely to appreciate the relevance and value of the knowledge domain. The ZPD can also be considered to be a relational (Goldstein, 1999) or affective zone. Goldstein (1999) has characterised the ZPD as a socially mediated space that is formed through relationships involving sensitivity and trust. In a classroom, this space is created by the interactions between students and between students and their teacher, as they engage in supportive activities that develop learner confidence and positive emotions. This consideration of the ZPD as a shared affective zone also has important motivational implications; the emotional quality and tone of interaction in the ZPD and the sense of caring engendered can have important implications for children’s engagement in learning and willingness to challenge themselves. The ZPD has been extended by Valsiner (1997a) into a system of zones which recognises not only the importance of assisted learning, but also the factors which may assist or constrain learning, and, as Pressick-Kilborn and Walker (2002) have suggested, motivation. Transformative Internalisation and Externalisation The reciprocal notions of transformative internalisation and externalisation are considered by Walker and colleagues (Walker, in press-b; Walker et al., 2004) to play a central role in their sociocultural Vygotskian approach because they explain the processes through which aspects of the social world become a part of the world of the learner, and conversely how the learner’s



actions and behaviour impact upon their social world. Viewed from the perspective of motivation in the classroom, the process of internalisation refers to the way individuals selectively internalise values and standards from their interactions with others in the ZPD as they engage in the academic practices of the classroom. The process of internalisation is active, constructive and transformative (Walker, in press-b; Walker et al., 2004) so that the goals, values and standards constructed by the learner cannot be considered to be transmitted by others. Rather, goals, standards and values are actively modified or changed by the learner in the process of internalisation. When standards and values have been internalised by a learner they are subsequently externalised in the form of motivated action, behaviour and language, so that internalisation may be inferred from these expressions of classroom engagement. It is important to recognise, however, that externalisation is also an active and transformative process, so that standards and values are transformed as learners externalise them in interaction with peers and others. Interpersonal Relations, Intersubjectivity and Co-Regulation The nature and quality of interpersonal relationships between students and their teachers and peers are important in our sociocultural Vygotskian approach (Walker, in press-b) to motivation as they influence the creation of zones of proximal development and the internalisation and externalisation of motivational standards and values. These latter processes require sensitive and caring interpersonal relationships and interactions so that learners receive appropriate levels of assistance and guidance. Intersubjectivity, or the development of shared understanding, is also facilitated by sensitive and empathic relationships. Interpersonal relations and intersubjectivity are also important for understanding the way that learners and their peers regulate each other’s activities, and their motivated engagement in those activities. The notion of co-regulation has been developed in the work of McCaslin (McCaslin Rohrkemper, 1989; McCaslin, 2004) and associates and refers, in its simplest form, to the regulation teachers provide students and that students provide for each other as they work on activities in the ZPD. In research conducted with Pharmacy students at the University of Sydney (Sainsbury, 2009; Sainsbury & Walker, 2007), interpersonal relations and intersubjectivity were found to influence the extent to which zones of proximal development were created, with subsequent implications for long-term learning in a Pharmacy unit of study. The authors found that, as indicated in Fig. 1 (Sainsbury, 2009), unproductive competitive relations


A Sociocultural Approach to Motivation

Group of learners



More productive

Group interactions

Collaborative High

Culture Intersubjectivity

Individual Low


Zone of proximal development



Conceptual change learning


Less productive

structured teaching and modeling

More effective

Cognitive socialisation

Less effective

Fig. 1. Model of the Relationships Between Interpersonal Relationships Within Groups and Long-Term Learning (Sainsbury, 2009, used with permission).

within collaborative groups impacted on interpersonal relationships and influenced the group’s efforts to understand each other and work together. These processes subsequently impacted on the learning of group members. Productive interpersonal relationships, on the other hand, were associated with higher levels of intersubjectivity and better learning outcomes for group members. Group members in groups which showed these competitive interpersonal relations behaved in a manner consistent with the adoption of



performance motivational goals while members of non-competitive groups behaved in a manner consistent with the adoption of mastery goals. Planes of Analysis The conceptualisation of motivation as transformatively internalised and externalised through participation in collaborative activity, and the recognition of the inclusively separated interdependence of individuals and their social worlds led Walker and colleagues to adopt Rogoff’s (1995, 1998) planes of analysis as a way of investigating individuals and the social worlds within which they act. Rogoff’s (1995, 1998) framework describes three planes of analysis, the personal, the interpersonal and the community. These planes are neither hierarchical nor separate from each other, but each plane foregrounds particular aspects of the activity with the other aspects as a mutually constituting background. The personal plane focusses on individual activity and how participants change as a result of their engagement in the activity, the interpersonal plane focusses on the communication and coordination of activities between participants and the community plane foregrounds the larger cultural values and practices in which the activity is embedded. The advantage of this framework is that it specifically encompasses all aspects of the sociocultural milieu, but does not require that all aspects are accorded equal weight. Further it avoids analytical overcomplexity by permitting a closer scrutiny of the most pertinent aspects of the milieu without ignoring the existence of the others. Highlighting or foregrounding one plane serves the purpose of focussing temporary attention on the contributions of that plane, but meaning is lost if the foregrounded plane is separated from its background. The planes of analysis framework has been used in sociocultural doctoral research conducted by Arnold (2005), Pressick-Kilborn (2010) and Sainsbury (2009) and is currently being used by Hyde (in preparation). Turner and Patrick (2008) have also illustrated the application of these three planes of analysis to interpretation of data collected in mathematics classrooms by Volet (1999a, 1999b) and Gresalfi (2004) and concluded that the approach was useful in describing both how students’ motivations can be understood in particular settings and why they change.

Motivation and Identity Although Vygotsky did not address identity formation, sociocultural theorists (Penuel & Wertsch, 1995) have taken the view that identity is a

A Sociocultural Approach to Motivation


social construction which is shaped and formed through sociocultural, historical and institutional processes. In addition to these macro-scale processes, Walker (2007, 2008b) and his colleagues have argued that cultural practices and communities of practice, canalisation and self-canalisation, transformative internalisation and externalisation, interpersonal relations, intersubjectivity and co-regulation are relevant to understanding the processes involved in identity formation. Identities are associated with, and have their origins in, the social and cultural practices of particular cultural groups and communities of practice. Enculturation into the cultural practices of particular communities and groups, including academic communities, therefore involves enculturation into the identities associated with those practices. In a study of interest in a primary school science classroom Pressick-Kilborn (2010) has shown how student valuing of science activities led to their identification with those activities and to the construction of science-related identities. Pressick-Kilborn (2010) also found support for the contention that canalisation processes, in conjunction with a student’s valuing of, and identification with particular activities and practices lead to self-canalisation processes on the part of students. She showed that where students were guided into science-related activities by their parents, they were much more likely to channel themselves into science activities in the classroom. Walker (2007) has argued that as the enculturation process takes place, practices and activities become increasingly valued and important to the learner, and the identities associated with those practices are transformatively internalised. Identities are subsequently externalised as learners engage in further practices and activities. The process of internalisation is transformative so that identities are selectively constructed, rather than acquired as Ryan & Deci (2003) have proposed from a self-determination perspective. Furthermore, while identities might be ‘recruited’, as Gee (2001) suggests, they are also transformed in the process of internalisation. In her research, Pressick-Kilborn (2010) has inferential support for the internalisation and externalisation of science-related identities within the classroom context. That is, students appeared to internalise their sciencerelated identities from their engagement in the science activities and practices of the classroom. While Walker and colleagues consider that the processes of transformative internalisation and externalisation are helpful in understanding identity construction and enactment, these processes may, however, require further extension when applied to the understanding of identity formation. Walker (2007) has suggested that internalisation may need to be considered to be



a continuum which recognises the difference between a strongly committed identity and an insecure or weakly committed identity. The idea of a continuum of internalisation from less committed to strongly committed identity also suggests that identity construction may be a lengthy process rather than something which happens quickly. In this regard, an approach to identity formation involving the notion of transformative internalisation offers a point of difference with the discourse approach (Gee, 2001; Gee & Green, 1998) in which identities are often seen to be constructed quickly through discursive interactions. The process of the internalisation of identities is also influenced (Walker, 2007) by interpersonal relations and the creation of intersubjectivity. Where interpersonal relations are positive, intersubjectivity will be enhanced, as will the construction and internalisation of identities. Pressick-Kilborn’s study (2010) offers some support for the role of intersubjectivity in identity formation; her study suggests that high levels of intersubjectivity between the teacher and students in the classroom led to high levels of student interest in science and to the construction of science-related identities. It is clear, however, that identities can also influence interpersonal relations, intersubjectivity, and the subsequent internalisation of motivation and selfregulation. In Sainsbury’s research (Sainsbury, 2009; Sainsbury & Walker, 2007), some students in the group with less productive relations entered the group with well established, competitive, academic identities, and this influenced their interactions with other less competitive group members. One student in the group, for instance, had obtained the highest university entrance score possible, and was very competitive, and determined to achieve high grades on her own. Her identity influenced her interactions with group members and led to group dynamics which made it harder for the group to develop a shared understanding of group tasks, and this ultimately impacted on the understanding and learning of group members. In the group with productive social relations, however, student identities did not impact on the activities of the group, and did not influence long-term student learning or understanding. In relation to the relationship between identity and regulatory processes, there is some evidence to suggest that reciprocal processes are also in operation. That is, while communities engaged in particular practices regulate the activities of their members and influence their identity formation, the identities learners construct also influence their interactions in groups and may influence the regulatory and co-regulatory activities of groups. There is some evidence to suggest that the former process was in operation in the study by Arnold (Arnold, 2005; Arnold & Walker, 2008). This study demonstrated

A Sociocultural Approach to Motivation


that when teachers created scaffolded, socially supportive learning environments that promoted co-regulation, opportunities were generated for students to internalise effective self-regulatory strategies. These opportunities, in turn, impacted positively on student identities and self-perceptions, and led to improvements in academic achievement. The latter process, however, was in operation in Sainsbury’s study (Sainsbury, 2009; Sainsbury & Walker, 2007) which showed that established competitive identities in Pharmacy students impacted upon interpersonal relations and collective regulatory activities in ways which negatively affected long-term learning outcomes. Finally, in the same way that students may be motivated to engage in the practices of particular communities or groups and to construct identities associated with those practices, they may be motivated to resist certain practices and identities. Walker (2003) has described, for instance, how two mature age, female, undergraduate educational psychology students resisted collaborative, electronically based learning and the identities associated with enquiry-based educational practices of learning because their lives were busy and they felt that they could accomplish course tasks more quickly by themselves.

Bringing It All Together, as an Example, in Relation to One Motivational Construct: A Sociocultural Approach to Interest The impetus for framing interest from a sociocultural Vygotskian perspective (Pressick-Kilborn, 2010; Pressick-Kilborn & Walker, 2002) has come from a desire to capture the complexity of interest development in authentic classroom contexts over time. A sociocultural approach focusses on the ways in which interest development is channelled or canalised as learners participate in the ongoing activities of specific communities of practice, with the values of the communities being transformatively internalised over time and contributing to the identity of the individual, as they express or externalise their interest in ways that are recognisable to others. In the theory of interest development that dominates current research (e.g. Hidi & Renninger, 2006), situational and individual interests are distinguished and used to define four phases of interest development. An advantage of a sociocultural approach lies in conceptualising the situation, or context, and the individual as inclusively separate, so that the relationship between both aspects of interest can be considered as interest develops. In sociocultural Vygotskian theory, emphasis is placed on the transactions between the social and physical context and the individual, and how these



change over time. In the early stages of interest development, canalisation processes dominate, in that the values and interests of the communities of practice in which the individual participates play an important role in affording and constraining the development of interest. The interpersonal connections that an individual feels with other members of the communities, as well as the sense of connectedness with the cultural practices of those communities, support the canalisation processes in the early stages and intersubjectivity is negotiated. As the individual’s interest develops, selfcanalisation processes begin to play a greater role in relation to that individual’s developing identity and valuing of activities within, and most likely across, particular communities of practice and ‘the creation of possible future actions in imaginary possible environments’ (Valsiner, 1992, p. 37). The sociocultural Vygotskian approach provides a framework for focussing on situational and individual interest within the same study and emphasises the importance of gathering data in relation to community, interpersonal and personal planes (Rogoff, 1995, 1998). Collecting data relating to different planes enables analysis to focus on different contexts for interest development, to describe the complexity and the sense of the total activity as zones of free movement, promoted action and development (Valsiner, 1997a) are negotiated. The following section of the chapter focusses on Pressick-Kilborn’s (2010) empirical study, undertaken to contribute to the re-conceptualisation of interest and its development from a sociocultural Vygotskian perspective. Background to the Study A qualitative classroom-based project was conducted, drawing on a designbased research methodology (Reimann, in press; Walker, in press-a) in the tradition of Brown (1992) and Guthrie and Alao (1997). Guiding instructional principles were developed during a three-month pilot project and these incorporated findings from studies of interest and motivation in classroom settings (Mitchell, 1993; Bergin, 1999; Ainley, 2001; Meyer & Turner, 2002), and studies of classrooms as learning communities (Brown, 1997; Roth & Lee, 2006). The main phase of the project then involved a grade five classroom teacher, Ms Wheeldon,1 in collaboratively designing and implementing learning units in the subject domain of science and technology, based on these instructional principles. This main phase was conducted over two terms in the school year (six months). During this time, the second author of this chapter, Kimberley Pressick-Kilborn2, gathered data as a participant observer during weekly science and technology lessons as 26 grade five students learnt about two topics, electricity and energy

A Sociocultural Approach to Motivation


resource conservation (term one) and egg-laying animals and the role of zoos in animal conservation (term two). The school, ‘Heathville College’, was a single sex girls’ school located in an inner city suburb in Sydney, Australia. Multiple research strategies were used to gather data over multiple time points, with a triangulated research design. Observations of classroom activities, and interaction and participation of the students and their teacher as they engaged in school-based lessons, guest speaker visits and field trips were recorded through researcher field notes, still photographs and audio and video-taping. Reflective writing, retrospective interest trajectory graphs, postcards and family conversation surveys were collected from all students to gain insight into their perspectives. In addition, six focus students were selected for closer study, and informal and semi-structured interviews were conducted with these students throughout the main phase of the project and at two additional time points following the conclusion of the main phase. The data collected was coded and categorised, with analytic categories informed and guided by the research questions and the literature reviewed. In presenting the findings of the study, narratives of key episodes in the classroom were included to provide the context for analytical and interpretive discussion that draws on key notions from sociocultural Vygotskian theory to explain interest development (Pressick-Kilborn, 2010). In this chapter, one particular focus student, Eleni, has been selected to highlight how drawing on key sociocultural Vygotskian notions can effectively describe processes of interest development, in relation to two particular communities of practice in which Eleni was a participant, her grade five class and her family.

Eleni’s Story: Participation in Communities of Practice and the Development of Interest As she sat waiting for the first science and technology lesson to commence, I overheard Eleni saying to girls seated nearby, ‘I love science. I love everything!’ This comment immediately helped me to identify Eleni as a participant in my research project, because of the positive feelings that she had expressed. Eleni was an exceptionally bright student, identified as academically gifted at a young age and an early entrant to school. She had an evident love of learning across all subjects at school and tended to bounce into the classroom with boundless enthusiasm. Despite having been at Heathville College since kindergarten, Eleni was socially isolated from her peers, although during the research project her friendship with Josephine strengthened. From a Greek background, Eleni lived with both of



her parents, who were medical doctors, and a younger brother, who also was exceptionally gifted. Eleni’s Participation in the Classroom Learning Community and Her Interest Development. Eleni was a focussed participant during science and technology lessons, actively engaging in small group tasks which she saw as an opportunity to build friendships with other capable students. Eleni was a particularly keen contributor to whole class discussions, confident in sharing her ideas, tentative theories and opinions. For most students, class discussions were a task that offered more limited choices and pathways for participation when compared with other hands-on activities. The students in the study generally rated their experience of interest more negatively in discussions than for other tasks. The level of teacher control was higher and the opportunities to make active contributions were more restricted in a class discussion format. For Eleni, however, such a task could be affording of her identity and interest development within the learning community. A specific example was when the students received an e-mail response from an electrician, Russ, an expert whom they had contacted to pose some questions about electricity. The lesson began with the students seated at their desks and Ms Wheeldon standing at the front of the classroom. She had pasted segments of Russ’s e-mail response on brightly coloured sheets of paper and these were displayed on a poster at the front of the room, with the three associated questions sent by the girls attached. Ms Wheeldon co-ordinated a 20-minute class discussion around these questions and the responses from Russ, with girls who previously had posed the questions – Eleni and Marie – moving to the front of the room to either read Russ’s answer or summarise his response. The subsequent class discussion built upon Russ’s responses. Ms Wheeldon began the lesson by asking who had read the e-mail reply already, which she had printed and displayed in the classroom after it was received in the previous week. Only Eleni, Philippa and Stephanie put up their hands. Eleni then moved to the front to relay the answer to her question about why blackouts occur. She firstly spoke without referring to the e-mail message, giving a summary of Russ’s response. It was evident that she had already read and understood the reply, but at Ms Wheeldon’s request, she then directly read it. Eleni sat down and the class discussion continued in relation to the remaining questions and responses. She continued to raise her hand as Ms Wheeldon posed or redirected further questions to the class. Eleni was repeatedly chosen by Ms Wheeldon to add her comments to the discussion. Other students, such as Cathy and Anna, each had their hands up at

A Sociocultural Approach to Motivation


different points in time but were not chosen by Ms Wheeldon to respond. Throughout the discussion, the students generally appeared to be listening to one another and to the adults who contributed. This class discussion task was characterised by a structure which canalised possibilities for students’ interest development in a number of ways. Firstly, the conversation was limited to the topics covered in Russ’s responses and Ms Wheeldon decided which aspects might be considered more deeply through asking follow-up questions. Secondly, Ms Wheeldon selected which students could contribute to the discussion, acting as a ‘gate keeper’ to their involvement. Thirdly, the poster display made by Ms Wheeldon created a permanent record of the discussion’s focus that remained in the classroom, so that students who were interested could read Russ’s responses more closely after this lesson. The display thus created possibilities for continued engagement with the ideas raised in the class discussion, which could contribute to students’ developing interest in these particular issues related to electricity. The display also reflected Ms Wheeldon’s valuing of expert input to their classroom-based community and promoted communication with experts as an important activity in increasing shared knowledge and understanding. The learning community was extended beyond the classroom through e-mail contact with Russ the electrician and interpersonal relations were developed through a different medium of communication. For Eleni, this class discussion gave her the opportunity to express her interest to her peers and teacher. In a task for which the class mean rating of interest was ‘neutral’, Eleni considered herself to be ‘very interested’. This does not seem surprising, given her high level of participation in the discussion, her responsibility for one of the questions sent to the electrician, and the status of relative expert that she was afforded by the teacher within the classroom community. Eleni’s identity as an interested and knowledgeable participant in science and technology lessons was being negotiated and reinforced through this activity. She was volunteering to share her ideas, being chosen to contribute by the teacher and being listened to by her peers. Eleni’s participation thus was being valued by the wider learning community. Eleni’s beliefs about interest, drawn from comments made in interviews throughout the study, also contributed to possibilities for the development of her interest in science and technology and self-canalisation processes. Eleni talked about feeling happy, excited and experiencing a sense of wonder when she felt interested in something. She also related the availability and passage of time to her experience of interest, remarking that something can become interesting when she gets ‘to spend a lot of work on it’. ‘Cute things’, such as the miniature solar car shown to students by a guest speaker, were



regarded by Eleni as interesting. Unusual things, such as monotremes, also were a potential source of interest. Finally, Eleni linked interest with success and talent; being good at something and achieving in that area were related to her being interested. Eleni’s Family Context and her Interest Development. Eleni was one of two focus students who were actively supported by their families in engaging in science and technology-related activities outside of school. These were the same two students for whom a global liking of science as a domain was expressed; Eleni’s mum described science as Eleni’s ‘thing’. My observations of Eleni’s well-developed interest in science and technology in the classroom were supported by her conversation relating to materials available to her at home. She played with electronics kits given to her by her parents and she saw herself as being ‘very interested’ in physics. Eleni talked about her dad’s shared enjoyment of this area and confided that at home, her dad referred to himself ‘Mr Electronic’. At times, however, Eleni’s parents’ encouragement of her learning appeared to border on them doing the task for her. For example, when making her electrical product, I noted in reflection in my field notes that, Ms Wheeldon and I were both quite shocked and rather disappointed when Eleni had an alarm, complete with circuit panel and sensor that her dad had shown her how to hook up at home before she came to class today. We had envisaged that this would be a task that could provide a challenge for Eleni, but she had it all hooked up in about 5 minutes.

Eleni’s dad’s expert knowledge seemed to be helping to extend Eleni’s own understandings, and their interaction in relation to electronics appeared to be supportive of the co-creation of their shared interest. In their family survey, Eleni’s dad identified himself as being ‘very interested’ in the topic of electricity because ‘It is the basic building block of all things’ while he also perceived Eleni as being ‘very interested’ because ‘Eleni is always interested and asking questions about electricity’. At times, however, this active support from her parents seemed to be detracting from Eleni’s own discoveries within the learning context. In grade four at Heathville College, Eleni had been given an opportunity to complete a personal interest project with an adult mentor. Initially she had selected Australian native animals as her focus topic, but told me that she had changed to lasers because ‘my dad was like, ‘‘Lasers are really interesting’’, and I’m like, well, OK, anything goes’. Eleni commented that she had really enjoyed studying lasers because she liked creating a laser light show and she was glad that she had changed topics. Her dad’s intervention served to create new possibilities for Eleni’s interest development in science more broadly. In conversation with

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Ms Wheeldon, however, her concern as the teacher coordinating the mentor program was that Eleni’s dad ‘had also found it difficult to draw a line between helping Eleni with her mentor project y and doing it for her – despite attempts to discuss this made by both the mentor and me’. Eleni’s dad appeared to be successfully creating experiences within the family context that were affording the development of Eleni’s interest in science and technology. At the same time, his involvement in their shared activities appeared to limit the potential challenges in her learning by possibly providing too much scaffolding and by diverting her from other potential interests. Concluding Comments About the Case Eleni commenced grade five with existing interests in the domain of science and technology, which were maintained and extended through her involvement in classroom-based tasks. Eleni’s family, as well as her peers, teacher and Eleni herself, identified her interest in science as something that characterised her as an individual across the communities of practice in which she participated. Eleni had developed personal meaning for science and technology topics, related to the ways in which her teacher designed learning experiences and her family valued the domain. It can be inferred from observations of her participation in classroom-based activities that Eleni had internalised the values promoted within these communities in relation to both scientific content and processes of investigation. She had developed a personal valuing of science as an object of interest. Her interaction in her class and family contexts both limited and promoted the development of her interest along specific pathways, as seen particularly in her dad’s involvement in her learning. Eleni’s contributions to the classroom community also created opportunities for her peers’ development of interest, in that she provided a model of an interested learner and her knowledgeable participation in tasks opened up new possibilities for the involvement and interest of others.

FUTURE DIRECTIONS IN SOCIOCULTURAL RESEARCH IN MOTIVATION OVER THE NEXT DECADE As was evident from the earlier sections of this chapter, sociocultural approaches to motivation are relatively new to the understanding of motivation. Consequently, it is difficult to make predictions about future



developments in this area. What does seem reasonably clear is that, in the next decade, there will be further theoretical development and clarification within sociocultural approaches as well as greater clarification of the similarities and differences amongst them. To date McCaslin’s (2004) work has been the best known sociocultural Vygotskian research in the motivational domain while Hickey’s work has provided the best known theoretical analyses. While this chapter has identified significant metatheoretical and theoretical differences in the work of Hickey and Walker and colleagues (Arnold & Walker, 2008; Walker, 2003, in press-b; Walker et al., 2004; Pressick-Kilborn et al., 2005; Pressick-Kilborn & Walker, 2002; Sainsbury & Walker, 2007), it has not attempted to examine the subtler differences between the work of McCaslin (2004, 2009) and Walker and his colleagues. Similarly, the chapter has not attempted to examine, beyond the most apparent, the similarities and differences between the situative (Nolen & Ward, 2008) and the sociocultural Vygotskian approaches to motivation. These are tasks for the future, as is the task of arguing the advantages of situative and sociocultural approaches over traditional person in context (Nolen & Ward, 2008) approaches to motivation, although this task will become clearer as more evidence is provided in support of the social nature of motivation. It also seems clear that sociocultural motivation researchers, as with other motivational researchers (e.g. Kaplan & Flum, 2009) will be concerned with understanding the nature of the relationships between motivation and identity. To conclude this chapter, we address several other directions that are likely to be undertaken by sociocultural motivation researchers over the next decade.

Evidence to Support the Social Nature of Motivation Sociocultural researchers have been attracted to this approach to motivation because they consider that traditional individualistic approaches to motivation fail to capture the complexity of motivation in such social settings as naturalistic classrooms. As researchers have become more concerned with investigating motivation in authentic, naturally occurring classrooms, they (e.g. Perry et al., 2006) have become more interested in broadening the scope of motivational theory. This has led to a greater concern with context, but as has been argued in this chapter, contextualist perspectives on motivation also fail to capture the complexity of the social world and its relationship with the world of the individual. The investigation of motivation in authentic social settings requires motivational approaches which

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conceptualise motivation as social in nature, but which are able to adequately theorise the interdependence of the social world and the world of the individual. The sociocultural Vygotskian meta-theory and the theoretical processes described in the chapter are able to do this and therefore offer motivational researchers an approach which is better suited to investigating motivation in authentic social settings. Future research, however, needs to provide support for the social nature of motivation and for the theoretical processes considered relevant to motivation by sociocultural Vygotskian researchers. In the first instance, this research will need to reconceptualise relevant motivational constructs as social in nature, as Walker and his colleagues have done in the case of interest (PressickKilborn & Walker, 2002) and academic regulatory activities (Arnold & Walker, 2008). Research will also need to provide support for the view that motivation has its origins in cultural practices, and for the theoretical processes considered to be involved, such as canalisation and selfcanalisation, the ZPD, and transformative internalisation and externalisation. As these processes emphasise the valuing of various cultural practices, future research into these processes will contribute to a better understanding of what Brophy (1999, 2008) refers to as the value aspects of motivation. While these suggestions constitute a significant program of future research, Walker (2008a) has argued that there is research which supports the view that motivation is social in nature, and similarly that there is some inferential support for the sociocultural Vygotskian theoretical processes outlined in this chapter. The sociocultural and situative research discussed earlier in this chapter by McCaslin (2004), Middleton and Perks (2006), Nolen (2001, 2007) and her colleagues (Nolen et al., 2009) and Walker and colleagues (Arnold & Walker, 2008; Walker, 2003, in press-b; Walker et al., 2004; Pressick-Kilborn et al., 2005; Pressick-Kilborn & Walker, 2002; Sainsbury & Walker, 2007) provides some support for the social nature of motivation. Similarly, the sociocultural Vygotskian research (Arnold, 2005; Arnold & Walker, 2008; Walker, 2003; Walker et al., 2004; Pressick-Kilborn, 2010; Pressick-Kilborn & Walker, 2002; Sainsbury, 2009; Sainsbury & Walker, 2007) discussed here provides inferential support for the theoretical processes used to explain the social nature of motivation.

Understanding Development and Change in Motivation Sociocultural researchers are concerned with the way motivational goals, values, standards and interests emerge and develop from social interactions



and are manifested in collaborative and individual action; much of the sociocultural research discussed in this chapter, as well as the situative research, has been concerned with the development of motivation and has been longitudinal in nature. Most of the research has extended over a school semester at the least, and some research has extended over a year or more. It seems likely then, that future sociocultural research will also be concerned with the development of motivation and will be longitudinal. Research to investigate sociocultural Vygotskian theoretical processes, such as transformative internalisation and externalisation and canalisation, will also require longitudinal research. Sociocultural theory, particularly in the work of developmental theorists such as Valsiner (Asendorf & Valsiner, 1992; Valsiner, 2006) and Rogoff (2003), is also likely to expand the way that motivational researchers conceptualise development and change in motivation. Most longitudinal motivation researchers have used social cognitive frameworks (e.g. Vauras, Salonen, Lehtinen & Lepola, 2001; Watt, 2004; Wigfield, Byrnes, & Eccles, 2006), predominantly conceptualising the development of motivation (MacCallum, 2001) as change in specific variables over time, with an outcomes focus, and generally a focus on the person or the environment; for example, change in the direction or intensity of achievement goals, interest or self-efficacy over time, or change in the intensity or type of motivation as a result of experimental manipulation of the context. A major assumption of variable approaches is that motivation concepts remain unchanged over the time period examined. Asendorf and Valsiner’s (1992) distinctions point to the importance in developmental research of a differential perspective (rather than a general perspective), focus on the mechanisms that generate outcomes (rather than outcomes or intermediates), and the person–environment relationship (rather than a focus on person or environment). Sociocultural motivation research is well positioned to more explicitly examine motivational development in ways that take account of these distinctions. Valsiner (2006) also points to the need to adopt open (rather than closed) systems for examining development, and many earlier approaches to motivation research adhere to a closed system approach. Within an open-system definition of development, development can be defined as the constructive transformation of form in irreversible time through the process of organism 2 environment interchange (Valsiner, 2006, p. 177). When motivation is re-conceptualised in social terms and considered from the perspective of sociocultural developmental psychology, the complex interrelations of persons and contexts involved in motivational development

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and change become the focus of research rather than change in specific motivational variables. Rogoff (2003), for instance, argues that ‘humans develop through their changing participation in the sociocultural activities of their communities, which also change’ (p. 11). It follows, then, that research on motivational development and change taking a sociocultural perspective would emphasise the social nature and origins of change and examine how motivation emerges and develops from changing social interaction, and transforms over time. This enables the examination of motivation in relation to these multiple and dynamic interrelationships. In recognising that not only do individuals change, but also their social interactions, and their communities and cultural practices, future sociocultural longitudinal research is well placed conceptually to examine the nature of development and change in motivation, and to re-examine specific motivation concepts as they are transformed over time.

Motivation and Emotions Although Vygotsky did not write about motivation he did write about emotion (Van der Veer & Valsiner, 1991). With only a few exceptions (Mahn & John-Steiner, 2002; Roth, 2007) little notice has been taken of this writing by educational psychologists and educators. Educators and educational psychologists, however, have given increased attention to the role of emotions in learning and motivation (Schutz & Pekrun, 2007) in recent years and this research has clearly demonstrated that emotions can no longer be ignored. In this context it is likely that sociocultural researchers, and others, will give greater attention to Vygotsky’s work in this domain. The theoretical issues already discussed in this chapter, such as the ZPD, transformative internalisation and externalisation, interpersonal relations, intersubjectivity, co-regulation and identity are all clearly influenced by, and influence, emotions. The analysis of the ZPD as a relational zone (Goldstein, 1999), for instance, strongly supports the theorisation of the ZPD in terms of emotions. Similarly, the Vygotskian view of regulatory processes, including co-regulation (Arnold & Walker, 2008; McCaslin, 2004), is likely to be extended in future sociocultural work to include the regulation of emotion. The benefits of such an extension are suggested by a quasi-experimental study conducted recently by Punmongkol (2009), although the study was not developed from a sociocultural theoretical basis. In her doctoral research, Punmongkol investigated the impact of a self-regulation intervention, an emotional regulation intervention, and a



combined self-regulation and emotional regulation intervention on the mathematics achievement of sixth grade students. Amongst other things, the study found that students in the combined treatment group had significantly higher posttest and delayed-posttest results on a mathematics achievement test than the other conditions or a control group. The combined treatment group also achieved significantly higher delayed-posttest grade results than all of the other conditions.

Design-Based Motivational Research in the Classroom The research described earlier in this chapter by Pressick-Kilborn drew on aspects of design-based research methodology in that guiding instructional principles for the classroom community of learners were drawn from the literature on interest. This mixed-method research approach (Reimann, in press; Walker, in press-a) aims to make theory and research relevant to classroom practice and to use classroom-based research for theory building purposes. While this research methodology has been implemented (Walker, in press-a) in the domains of learning, mathematics and science education, educational technology, literacy and curriculum development, it has yet to be fully implemented in motivational research. Research by PressickKilborn (2010) and Guthrie and Alao (1997) involves only the initial design phase and does not extend to the other phases and cycles (Reimann, in press) typical of design-based research. As most sociocultural research is conducted in authentic classroom and other settings, it is possible that in the future sociocultural motivation researchers may attempt to build designbased interventions into their classroom research. While it is arguable that sociocultural motivational research, as a consequence of its authentic nature, is more relevant to the classroom than some other forms of motivational research, design-based interventions would make this research even more relevant to classroom practice. Design-based research might also contribute to the further development of sociocultural motivation theory.

NOTES 1. Pseudonyms are used in referring to the school, students and teacher in this study. 2. Where first person subsequently is used in this case study, the reference is to Kimberley Pressick-Kilborn.

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MOTIVATION AND EMOTIONAL TRANSACTIONS: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? Paul A. Schutz, Kelly A. Rodgers and Jacqueline Simcic I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. (President John F. Kennedy, Joint session of Congress, May 25, 1961)

Within the social historical context of the time, this goal statement, in part, had the effect of energizing and focusing a nation in the direction of putting humans on the moon. From the point of view of motivational researchers it had many of the elements of a useful goal (e.g. specific, challenging and stated completion date) (Locke and Latham, 2002). In addition, from the perspective of emotion researchers, the goal had the potential to act as a reference point from which people could judge how they felt about their progress toward and the accomplishment of that goal (Schutz, 1994; Smith, 1991). From our perspective, the potential to investigate goals from multiple points of view is representative of how we frame our discussion of the transactions among human motivations and emotions in this chapter. However, before we begin our discussion, we would like to make three points: first, we consider the constructs and thinking used by motivation and emotional scholars to be bounded by the social historical context in which The Decade Ahead: Applications and Contexts of Motivation and Achievement Advances in Motivation and Achievement, Volume 16B, 43–68 Copyright r 2010 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 0749-7423/doi:10.1108/S0749-7423(2010)000016B005




they are being used. In other words, the meaning associated with motivational and emotional constructs continues to emerge and change over time (e.g. motivation was once thought to be explained simply by external factors). Therefore, these constructs will continue to change over time. Second, currently, within the context of a particular activity or event, we see motivational and emotional processes as merely different vantage points from which scholars have attempted to understand, explain and predict human thoughts and activities (Schutz, Hong, Cross, & Osbon, 2006). As a result, we focus on how these concepts overlap during the co-construction of a particular goal-directed attempt. Third, in this chapter we will focus mostly on emotional episodes, and, for space limitation, will not explicate the nature of transactions among motivations with other affective concepts such as core affect (e.g. mood) or affective tendencies (see Schutz, Aultman, & Williams-Johnson, 2009, for a discussion of these affective distinctions). Given those caveats, we discuss our current understandings about the nature of the processes associated with human motivation and emotion. To do so, we begin by discussing some of the overlapping concepts that have been used in both the motivation and emotion literature. During that discussion, we also focus on how these overlapping concepts are currently being used by some researchers who investigate transactions among motivations and emotions. Finally, we make claims about future inquiry that foreground the transactions among motivation and emotional processes in the educational contexts.

MOTIVATION AND EMOTION In this section, we will highlight three overlapping concepts that are currently used in both the motivation and emotion literatures: goals, agency and expectancy. We recognize that there are other potential overlapping constructs (e.g. interest); however, we focus on these three.

Goals Goals, Goal Importance and Value in the Motivation Literature Our assumption is that human activities (e.g. behaviors, thoughts, etc.) are intentional and directed toward something. For us, that ‘something’ is the goals, values and beliefs that people attempt to attain and maintain. We are not suggesting that people are always conscious of that intent, only

Motivation and Emotional Transactions: Where do We go from Here?


that there is directionality to human activity (Ford, 1992; Klinger, 1977; Schutz, 1991, 1994). In the motivation literature, researchers have suggested that goals, values and beliefs provide that direction for human thoughts, behavior and strategies (Ford, 1992; Ford & Smith, 2007; Markus & Nurius, 1986; Schutz, 1991, 1994; Schutz & Davis, 2000). Elsewhere, speaking specifically about goals, Schutz and colleagues, as well as others, have defined goals as subjective representations of what humans would like to have happen and what they would like to avoid happening in the future (Ford, 1992; Ford & Smith, 2007; Markus & Nurius, 1986; Schutz, 1991, 1994; Schutz, Crowder, & White, 2001; Schutz et al., 2006). In this context, we use goals as a broad category that includes both goal content, which answers questions of ‘what’ a person would like to accomplish (e.g. I want to become a teacher, or I want to lose 10 lb by the end of the year), and goal orientation, which answers questions of ‘why’ a person would like to accomplish something (e.g. I enjoy learning in this class, or I want to get an ‘A’ so it will help me get into graduate school). In addition to the actual goals themselves, the importance or value of those goals to the individual within a particular context has also been demonstrated to play a key role in motivation (Eccles, 2005; Ford, 1992; Schutz, White, & Lanehart, 2000). For example, results of research conducted by Eccles (1983, 2005) suggest that student task values are associated with future decisions to take additional courses in a particular area. Similarly, Schutz et al. (2000) found that students accomplished and spent more time on the goals that they rated as most important to themselves. In addition, those students who spent more time on their most important goals also tended to perform better academically. Goals, Goal Importance and Value in the Emotion Literature Goals also play a key role in the current human emotion literature (Carver & Scheier, 2000; Ford, 1992; Ford & Smith, 2007; Frijda, 1993; Lazarus, 1991; Pekrun, Frenzel, Goetz, & Perry, 2007; Scherer, 1984; Schutz & Davis, 2000; Smith, 1991). Schutz et al. (2006) described emotional experiences as ‘socially constructed, personally enacted ways of being that emerge from conscious and/or unconscious judgments regarding perceived successes at attaining goals or maintaining standards or beliefs during transactions as part of social–historical contexts’ (p. 344). For our discussion here, the key part of that definition is that emotions involve judgments or appraisals (Boekaerts, 2007; Pekrun et al., 2007; Schutz & Davis, 2000; Schutz & DeCuir, 2002). The reference points for those judgments or appraisals are individuals’ goals, values and beliefs



(Carver & Scheier, 2000; Ford & Smith, 2007; Schutz & DeCuir, 2002; Schutz & Davis, 2000; Weiner, 2007). In other words, human goals, values and beliefs represent ways individuals, as members of social groups, position themselves during particular life events (Boekaerts, 2007; Ford, 1992; Ford & Smith, 2007; Markus & Nurius, 1986; Schutz et al., 2001, 2009). As such, during events, people tend to make judgments about how they see the pursuit of their goals progressing during a particular transaction. In most cases, these judgments tend to occur outside of the person’s awareness, yet these judgments are seen as being key to an emotional episode (Frijda, 1993; Lazarus, 1991; Pekrun et al., 2007; Schutz & Davis, 2000; Schutz et al., 2009; Smith, 1991). Lazarus (1991, 1999) made a distinction between primary and secondary appraisals (more on secondary appraisal later). Primary appraisals consist of judgments or appraisals related to two issues that are key to this discussion: (1) goal relevance (i.e. is the activity seen as important or of value to the person’s goals, standards or beliefs?) and (2) goal congruence (i.e. is the activity perceived as going the way the person hoped it would?). For Lazarus (1991, 1999), it is these primary appraisals that are seen as influencing the valence of an emotional episode. So, if an activity is judged to be important and going well, a pleasant emotional episode is more likely to occur. Conversely, if an activity is judged as important but perceived as not going well, an unpleasant emotional episode is more likely. The results of a recent study by DeCuir-Gunby, Aultman, and Schutz (2009) demonstrated this relationship between goal congruence appraisals and test emotion. In this study, college students who reported higher levels of goal congruent appraisals related to testing – in other words, their test performances generally tended to go the way they hoped – also reported lower levels of test anxiety (r ¼ .57) and anger (r ¼ .67), but higher levels of test hope (r ¼ .43) and pride (r ¼ .43). These results suggest that student judgments regarding how their goal-directed attempts are going have a role, depending on additional secondary appraisals (see later discussion), in the emotions they experience. Motivational and Emotional Goal Transactions Some researchers have specifically looked at transaction among motivation and emotion concepts. For example, Linnenbrink and Pintrich (2002), drawing upon Dweck and Leggett’s (1988) social-cognitive theory of achievement goal orientation, investigated how the goal orientations that students adopt and their perceived progress toward meeting those goals affect their emotions and, reciprocally (but to a lesser extent), how emotions

Motivation and Emotional Transactions: Where do We go from Here?


influence students’ choices of goal orientations. Thus, students who adopt a performance goal (e.g. receive an ‘A’ on an exam), for example, and use peers’ performance as a reference point on which to base their progress toward this goal, become more vulnerable to unpleasant emotions (shame and frustration) should they deem the gap between their current state and their desired state to be too wide. To cope with this discrepancy, some students may subsequently place less value on the task (Twenge & Crocker, 2002) or self-handicap (thereby adjusting their attributions such that shortcomings are blamed on uncontrollable circumstances). According to Linnenbrink and Pintrich (2002), these unpleasant emotions may then affect the goals that students adopt when facing the same or similar tasks (the defensive pessimism coping described by Martin, Marsh, & Debus, 2001). Linnenbrink and Pintrich (2002) also suggest that the adoption of mastery goals encourages emotions in the face of both success and failure that are different than if one held performance-approach or performance-avoid goals. That is, if students hold mastery goal orientations and are making insufficient progress on a task, resulting emotions are likely to be more pleasant. Conversely, students with performance goals would be expected to have more unpleasant affect. At the crux of Linnenbrink and Pintrich’s (2002) proposed integration of motivation and affect is an adaptation of Carver and Scheier’s (1990) control-process model. In the control-process model, individuals act to reduce the discrepancy between their own behavior and a reference point (e.g. goal). The iterative process of seeking to reduce the discrepancy between one’s current state and the desired state creates a control process within the individual. The monitoring of the control process as a person moves toward his or her goals can then be linked with certain affective states, as in the previously stated case of students who have mastery goals. Recent research on goals and emotions supports this proposed relationship. For example, in her study of elementary students’ emotions, goals and achievement outcomes, Linnenbrink (2005) found that performance goal orientations were positively correlated with test anxiety (an unpleasant emotion). Extending beyond the unpleasant/pleasant emotion dichotomy, McGregor and Elliot (2002) examined challenge/threat affect as it relates to college students’ emotions. Linnenbrink (2005) proposed that students’ goal orientation (mastery or performance approach or avoid) affects whether students appraise a task as either a challenge or a threat, each of which is linked to a specific set of achievement emotions. In their sample of undergraduate students, McGregor and Elliot (2002) found that masteryapproach and performance-approach goal orientation predicted emotions



associated with challenge appraisals while performance-avoidance goals were related to threat affect. As such, from a motivational perspective goals represent what the person is generally (e.g. life goals and core goals), as well as specifically (e.g. proximal or task-specific goals), attempting to attain or maintain. From the emotion perspective, it is those goals that act as the reference points during particular events to appraise where one is in a relationship to where one wants to be. As such, the appraisals one makes during goaldirected events are thought to influence the emotions one experiences during that event and those emotions have the potential to influence future motivation and emotion.

Agency Agency or Control in the Motivation Literature The second concept that overlaps both the motivation and emotion literature is agency. In the motivation literature, research related to human perceptions regarding agency or control has a long history (deCharms, 1968; Rotter, 1966). Early in this area of research, deCharms discussed this issue in terms of a distinction between origins and pawns. ‘Origins’ are people who believe their activity is determined by their own choosing – they tend to see themselves as being in control and responsible for their actions. On the other hand, ‘pawns’ are people who believe their activity is determined by external factors beyond their control – they tend to see themselves as being more powerless. An additional point to consider is that deCharms (1968) indicated that the distinction between origin and pawn is continuous and non-discrete, which suggests that personal experiences as well as social historical contexts also play a role in one’s perception of control during particular events. More recently, Deci and Ryan (1985) argued that autonomy, along with competence and relatedness, are three basic innate psychological needs (Deci & Moller, 2005). Autonomy, from their perspective, represents our need for a sense of control as it relates to choosing behaviors. In other words, as perceptions of personal control increase, there tends to be a corresponding increase in activity (i.e. motivation) directed toward the development, pursuit and accomplishment of one’s goals. In attribution theory, this is the controllability dimension that, along with locus and stability, has been used to investigate how people explain or talk about their successes and failures (Weiner, 2005, 2007).

Motivation and Emotional Transactions: Where do We go from Here?


For the controllability dimension of attribution theory, explanations like effort (e.g. I put in a lot of effort preparing for that game) and strategies used (e.g. That was the wrong way to approach that test) tend to be seen as being more controllable and therefore more motivational to the person, whereas failures associated with task difficulty (e.g. That was way too hard) and luck (e.g. I had bad luck) tend to be seen as uncontrollable and therefore more likely result in less activity directed toward goal pursuit. Agency or Control in the Emotion Literature Issues related to the perception of control in the emotion literature center around both the aforementioned appraisal and attribution processes. As indicated, Lazarus (1991) made a distinction between primary (i.e. goal relevance and congruence) and secondary appraisals. Accordingly, primary appraisals tend to influence the valence of the emotions experience related to a particular activity (i.e. pleasant emotion vs. unpleasant emotion). In addition, researchers who have investigated the appraisal processes suggest that to make fine-grained distinctions about specific emotions, additional or secondary appraisals are needed (Pekrun et al., 2007; Schutz & Davis, 2000; Smith, 1991; Smith & Ellsworth, 1987). In secondary appraisal, the judgments revolve around perceptions of what, if anything, the person can do during an activity to move one toward his or her particular goals, standards or beliefs. In other words, does the person think he or she will be successful in this particular attempt? The results of a recent study by DeCuir-Gunby et al. (2009) demonstrated this relationship between agency appraisals and test emotion. In this study, college students who reported higher levels of agency appraisals – in other words, they generally felt in control during tests – also reported lower levels of test anxiety (r ¼ .36) and anger (r ¼ .50), as well as higher levels of test hope (r ¼ .41) and pride (r ¼ .38). Agency, or judgments about who is in control or who caused what is occurring during a transaction, is considered to be a secondary appraisal. For example, if students judge an event to be goal relevant but going badly and someone else’s fault, anger is likely to emerge. However, if students judge an event to be goal relevant, going poorly and their own fault, it is more likely that guilt or shame will emerge (Smith, 1991; Smith & Ellsworth, 1987). For a researcher interested in the appraisal process, the focus is on the judgments that are made during the actual event. In attribution theory, the focus is on the judgments that occur after the event or, in other words, explanations for why people think they were successful or not successful. In addition to the motivational consequences



discussed earlier, Weiner (2005, 2007) has also investigated attributions and their influence on emotions. For example, explanations for unsuccessful attempts that include a controllable attribution have been associated with shame and guilt, whereas explanations for unsuccessful attempts that involve uncontrollable attributions have been associated with anger and pity (Weiner 2005, 2007). Motivational and Emotional Agency Transactions Boekaerts (1996) proposed that students have two priorities: increasing their value by increasing their academic competence and maintaining a positive sense of self or well-being. When students believe in their own agency to create the desired outcome and thus experience the pleasant emotions associated with such agency beliefs, Boekaerts (2007) contends that they continue down the mastery track with the goal of increasing their academic competence. Conversely, when students perceive a discrepancy between their current state and the goals of the task, or lack belief in their ability to affect or control the outcome of the task, they switch to a more selfprotective mode. Martin et al. (2001) examined self-handicapping and what they termed defensive pessimism as coping mechanisms during academic tasks. Following Boekaerts’s (1996, 2007) assertion regarding students’ desire to maintain their positive sense of self, by either approaching or avoiding a task, defensive pessimists ‘alter the meaning of failure by steeling themselves for failure and by setting lower and safer standards against which to be judged’ (Martin et al., 2001, p. 87). Some students who self-handicap have the potential, in the short term, to maintain a positive sense of self by making attribution adjustments. They may seek to attribute their current struggles to a lack of effort (controllable) rather than to a lack of ability or intelligence (uncontrollable). By deflecting away from a possible lack of ability, students have the potential to maintain, in the short term, their positive view of themselves and their academic abilities (see Urdan & Midgley, 2001 for a more comprehensive discussion of self-handicapping). In addition, on a more positive note, Wolters (2003) points to the use of attribution adjustments as indicative of students’ ability to self-regulate their motivation and, ultimately, the emotions associated with that motivation. Ford and Smith (2007), in the construction of their model of optimal human functioning, propose that perceptions of agency, or one’s perceived ability to affect an outcome, mediate the relationship between one’s goals and corresponding emotions, with motivation being the product of the interaction of these three components. In the classroom environment,

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this means that students’ achievement-related emotions are dependent on, at least in part, their beliefs about the amount of personal control (or agency) that they have to affect their academic outcomes and achieve task goals. Agency beliefs, perceived progression toward goals and the regulation of resulting emotions then interact to influence students’ task motivation. This interrelationship is most readily seen in the literature that examines the positive effects of student-centered classrooms on the motivation and affect of both teachers (Pelletier, Seguin-Levesque, & Legault, 2002; Reeve, Bolt, & Cai, 1999) and students (Harter, Whitesell, & Kowalski, 1992; Martin et al., 2001). Assor, Kaplan, and Roth (2002) examined the effects of teacher autonomy support on students’ academic engagement. Assessing specific pleasant (comfort, enjoyment and interest) and unpleasant emotions (stress, anger and boredom) and engagement in the sample of 862 elementary school students, they found that providing choice predicted students’ pleasant emotions, while suppressing students’ criticism/devaluing student input predicted students’ unpleasant emotions. From a motivational perspective, personal control represents a need and/or beliefs about one’s perceptions of agency in the world. For the most part, seeing oneself as an active agent in the world tends to promote activity toward one’s goals. From the emotion perspective, agency appraisals or attributions made during or after an event are tied, as indicated above, to more specific, rather than simply pleasant or unpleasant, emotional experiences related to that event.

Expectancy Expectancy and Self-efficacy in the Motivation Literature In motivation literature, expectancy refers to a person’s belief or judgment about his or her abilities to be successful at a task. There are a number of terms that have been used to differentiate these aspects of human belief processes. It is not the goal of this chapter to explicate the nature of those distinctions; however, some examples are expectance (i.e. expectancy-value theory; Eccles, 2005), personal agency beliefs, (i.e. motivational systems theory; Ford, 1992), self-concept (Marsh, 1990) and self-efficacy (i.e. socialcognitive theory; Bandura, 1997). The roles of such beliefs, however, are important in the construction of theoretical representations of the relationship between motivational constructs and emotions, which is the focus of current research in the area.



Self-efficacy, in particular, may be one of the most researched constructs in the area of motivation and the consistent finding is that as one’s beliefs about one’s capability to accomplish a task increase, there tends to be a corresponding increase in activity (i.e. motivation) directed toward the development, pursuit and accomplishment of one’s goals related to the particular task of interest. For example, if teachers feel confident in their capabilities to manage their classroom, they tend to be more likely to be successful at managing their classroom (Emmer & Hickman, 1991). Similarly, if students feel confident in their ability to complete a task such as an assignment, they are also more likely to experience success. Researchers have demonstrated the importance of self-efficacy with a number of important motivational outcomes. For example, self-efficacy has been associated with effort and task persistence (Bandura & Cervone, 1983; Schunk, 1995), the use of cognitive and self-regulatory strategies (Pintrich & DeGroot, 1990) as well as higher academic achievement (Ferla, Valcke, & Cai, 2009; Lodewyk, Winne, & Jamieson-Noel, 2009; Pearson, 2008). The aforementioned researchers provide only a subset of the research findings that demonstrate the influence of self-efficacy beliefs on motivational as well as other outcomes. As such, it is clear that efficacy beliefs are important to our understanding of motivational processes. Expectancy and Self-efficacy in the Emotion Literature In the emotion literature, in addition to secondary appraisals related to agency, Schutz and colleagues have also investigated the expectancy variable during testing by using what they have termed testing problem efficacy, which they define as the perceived potential to deal with problems, such as difficult or unexpected questions, that might occur during a test (Schutz & Davis, 2000; Schutz, Benson, & DeCuir, 2008). More generally, during events people make judgments not only about the task, but also if they see themselves being able to handle difficult or unexpected events that might occur during the task. How someone appraises a situation, related to problem efficacy, may be the difference between experiencing anxiety (i.e. appraising the event as goal relevant, goal incongruent and low efficacy) and challenge or hope (i.e. appraising the event as goal relevant, goal incongruent and high efficacy) (Smith, 1991; Smith & Ellsworth, 1987). DeCuir-Gunby et al. (2009) provided evidence for that relationship when college students, who reported higher levels of test-problem efficacy, also reported lower levels of test anxiety (r ¼ .35) and anger (r ¼ .51), as well as higher levels of test hope (r ¼ .57) and pride (r ¼ .52). In other words, students who felt confident that they could get themselves out of problems

Motivation and Emotional Transactions: Where do We go from Here?


that might arise during testing tended to report potentially more useful emotions during tests. For example, a student with high problem efficacy who temporarily forgets a formula during a math exam may experience feelings of challenge rather than panic. Other researchers have found similar findings for the emotions of enjoyment and anxiety (e.g. Pekrun et al., 2007; Zeidner, 2007). Conversely, as noted by Bandura (1997), emotional states are one source of efficacy expectation. For example, a normally academically capable and efficacious student who is experiencing depression may not feel as confident in his or her ability to perform well on a specific assignment. In this case, the lower self-efficacy may be tied to the emotional state of the student such that more pleasant emotions might result in an increase in the student’s task efficacy. Researchers have also found similar relationships between emotions and emotional regulation with teacher emotions. For example, Sutton (2007) presented data that indicated that teacher efficacy was related to the perceived effectiveness of showing pleasant emotions. In other words, being confident about themselves as teachers was tied to how the teachers regulate their emotions in the classroom. In addition, Day and Qing (2009) reported high teacher efficacy was associated with teachers’ pleasant emotions. Finally, Chang and Davis (2009) found teachers’ appraisals of their own goal incongruence and lack of problem efficacy were related to student disruptions. In other words, teacher perceptions of things not going well combined with a lack of confidence in being able to handle classroom problems was associated with not only an increase in student disruption, but also intensity of the emotions teachers experience. In addition, that intensity or emotional experience tended to also predict their use of emotional regulation as well as feeling burnout.

Motivational and Emotional Agency Transactions Pekrun et al. (2007), in what they have labeled control-value theory, have attempted to integrate a number of motivational and emotional theoretical frameworks that demonstrate how human motivation and emotion processes are complementary, rather than mutually exclusive. Among others, their theory draws from expectancy-value theory (Atkinson & Raynor, 1978; Eccles, 2005), attribution theory (Weiner, 2005), transactional theory of emotions (Lazarus, 1991), control theory (Skinner, Wellborn, & Connell, 1990) and goal orientation theory (Dweck & Leggett, 1988). This integrated theory relies heavily on the three constructs discussed earlier in this chapter: control, efficacy and goals (values).



For Pekrun et al. (2007), subjective control refers to the amount of agency that one perceives over outcomes associated with a task and depends on one’s causal expectancies and attributions. In other words, if students think they can do something (expectancies) and believe that past successes have been the result of their own efforts, they will tend to perceive themselves as being in control within a similar context. Therefore, as with expectancyvalue theory, expectancy plays a key role. In terms of expectancies, Pekrun et al. (2007) further categorize expectancies into three types: actioncontrol (Heckhausen, 1977), action-outcome and situation-outcome. Akin to Bandura’s (1997) self-efficacy construct, action-control expectancies refer to beliefs in one’s abilities to begin and achieve a desired outcome, while action-outcome expectancies refer to one’s expectancies that engaging in an activity will allow one to achieve a valued outcome. As previously indicated, this concept refers to the extent to which an activity is perceived as relevant to the meeting of one’s goals. Situation-outcome expectations describe expectations that a particular outcome will occur without one’s action or involvement. Each of these expectancies suggests a level of perceived control over the outcomes associated with a given task. As discussed in the previous section, consideration of control permeates the literature on achievementrelated outcomes (e. g. Rotter, 1966; deCharms, 1968; Weiner, 2007). At the crux of the focus on the effects of perceived control on achievement outcomes, particularly when connecting motivation and emotion, are students’ beliefs in their own agency and attributions. Generally speaking, from a motivational perspective, personal efficacy represents one’s beliefs about one’s capability of being successful at a given task. For the most part, seeing oneself as being capable of attaining one’s goals tends to promote activity toward and successes with one’s goals. From the emotion perspective, efficacy appraisals made during an event are tied, as indicated above, to the emotions experienced related to that event.

Summary Taken together, these three concepts, goals, control and agency, play important roles in the current motivation and emotion literature. It is our contention that the nature of the overlapping transactions among those concepts may be best understood when discussing how particular episodes unfold during goal-directed attempts. However, it may be difficult to contextualize those complex, dynamic processes when viewed from the theoretical and methodological lens of particular motivation or emotional

Motivation and Emotional Transactions: Where do We go from Here?


theories. As such, we have begun to think about those transactions from an ecological dynamic systems perspective.

ECOLOGICAL DYNAMIC SYSTEMS PERSPECTIVE In using this ecological dynamic systems perspective, our aim is to acknowledge both social historical contexts (ecological) in which an episode occurs and the dynamic transactions that occur during that particular event (dynamic systems). Elsewhere, Schutz, Cross, Hong, and Osbon (2007) used Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model (1986) to explicate how social historical contextual influences help to create the context for particular classroom episodes. In other words, there are social historical elements that influence the motivational and emotional nature of particular events. For example, in the United States, over the past 8–10 years laws have been created (macrosystem) regarding the use of high-stakes standardized testing to collect information about students, teachers and/or school district progress related to predetermined performance criteria. These changes at the macrosystem level have had rippling effects throughout the educational system. Researchers who have investigated the effects of such reform on classroom teachers have documented the emotional and motivational changes that occur at the classroom level (Cross & Hong, 2009; Kelchtermans, Ballet, & Piot, 2009; Nichols & Berliner, 2007; Turner, Waugh, Summers, & Grove, 2009; van Veen & Sleegers, 2009). One perspective on this change comes from Ms. Jones who, in a recent interview, discusses her experience as a teacher on the day of the standardized test within the microsystem of her particular classroom: That is the most emotionally draining day of our lives, because as the teacher, we are watching a train wreck sometimes, we are like – oh! I think it is so wrong [the testing] because we are supposed to teach them and guide them, but we can’t do that with the test. – We just watch them and make sure they don’t cheat and follow directions. It is emotionally draining and frustrating. You know the ones that need the help but you can’t help them. You are hoping they are doing their best. All you do is watch their faces because you hope that they go like ‘‘Oh I know this, I got this!’’ Instead of, ‘‘Oh, my god what is this?’’ y But I think it is very emotional, it is very draining to have to watch little children take that test.

We use the above quote to illustrate ways in which the social historical contexts (e.g. the chronosystem and macrosystem) influence classroom transactions. As such, to understand Ms. Jones’s goal-directed classroom attempts, as well as her agency and self-efficacy associated with those



attempts, it is also important to understand the social historical contexts from which those goals have emerged. In other words, in order to understand particular classroom events that are occurring in the USA at this particular point in time and the potential complex motivational and emotional processes associated with those events, the social historical contexts within which the events occurred need also be acknowledged. To see that balance between the social historical contexts and a particular event, Schutz et al. (2009) presented the case of Ms. Bell, who had a classroom goal of creating a safe and caring place for students. She believed (perceived efficacy and agency) that she could develop this safe, caring place by spending a considerable amount of time early in the semester getting to know her students. In other words, her belief was that if she knew them and they knew she cared for them, classroom activities would go smoothly. However, the frustration she expressed regarding a particular event in which a student continued his pattern of classroom disruptions suggests there was still work to be done. In her interview, she described the event as follows: It’s seven months into the school year, so I’m wondering why we haven’t worked through that [her relationship with the child], but uh, it’s also a child who has pretty, you know, severe problems at home. And me being aware of those, it’s kind of one of those situations where I’m wondering how do we expect him to function in the classroom when he’s going through that stuff at home? So it’s still frustrating for me, because I feel like it’s something [his classroom disruptions] we should have worked through by month seven. (Schutz et al., 2009, p. 204)

Ms. Bell’s account of the above emotional event provides an example of the transactions among motivational and emotional constructs. In regard to motivation, she had a valued goal of developing a safe, caring classroom context. She expressed confidence in her ability to create that context by getting to know her students early in the semester – thus acting as an ‘origin’. However, during this particular event, what she saw happening did not match what she wanted to happen (goal incongruence). She labeled her emotional experience as frustration, which in part motivated her toward figuring out other potential strategies that would help her to develop her relationship with this as well as other children in her class and to continue toward her goal of developing a safe, caring classroom context. From the ecological or social historical context lens, teaching – especially at the elementary school such as the one Ms. Bell teaches at – is predominantly a female profession. Thus, her goal of developing a safe, caring place may, in part, be tied to emergent societal roles and expectations that tend to suggest that women are nurturing and therefore suited for the

Motivation and Emotional Transactions: Where do We go from Here?


teaching role (Noddings, 1984). In addition, researchers investigating teachers’ emotions have begun to investigate societal influenced feeling and/or display rules (Denzin, 1984; Hochschild, 1983; Russell, 1991; Schutz et al., 2007; Zembylas, 2005). In other words, based on historical views about how teachers should interact with students, there are expectations about what emotions teachers should and can feel and how they are expected to display those emotions to their students. Research in this area is just beginning; however, this may also suggest that Ms. Bell’s goal of creating a safe, caring place might also be a reflection of not only her goals, but also societal expectations for how teachers should interact with students in classrooms. As we zoom in to this particular event and the emotion associated with that event, there is a growing interest, particularly in positive psychology for a dynamic systems theory lens. For example, Fogel et al. (1992) suggested that emotions ‘are neither states nor programs but self-organizing dynamic processes that are created with respect to the flow of the individual’s activity in a context’ (p. 122). This view of motivation and emotions as part of a dynamic, or changing, system proposes that motives and emotions are not static but are in a constant state of flux, as interrelated systems interact with situational and individual characteristics to create transient emotional episodes (Ford & Smith, 2007; Lewis, 2005; van Geert, 2008). For Ms. Bell, within the retelling of this particular episode we see that flux as well as the self-organizing nature of this transaction. In this case the episode begins with a disturbance in the goal-directed lesson of Ms. Bell. As she talks about her relationship with this student we hear her explore potential attributions as she tries to make sense of this event and her frustration about that event. Thus, she begins by suggesting internal agency attribution: ‘It’s seven months into the school year, so I’m wondering why we haven’t worked through that [her relationship with the child]’. From there, in an effort to make sense of that event, she also explores an external attribution with the student’s home life by stating: ‘it’s also a child who has pretty, you know, severe problems at home’. However, in the end she goes back to her original assessment ‘I feel like it’s something [his classroom disruptions] we should have worked through by month seven’. This short excerpt demonstrates the transactions among Ms. Bell’s goals, as well as her agency and efficacy beliefs regarding this particular event. The attributions she uses while retelling her story have the potential to influence her future levels of motivation as well as her emotional experiences. As such, it is our contention that in order to account for the transactions among all of these various personal systems (e.g. self, emotional, social interactions,



motivational, etc.) at the episode level, a dynamic systems approach may be useful. Elsewhere, the dynamic systems approach has been used in the motivation and emotion literature (Eynde & Turner, 2006; Fogel et al., 1992; Lewis & Granic, 2000). In addition, dynamic systems theory is also being used as the framework for more comprehensive descriptions of the interdependency of human functional systems. For example, Frederickson and Losada (2005) offer the idea of ‘human flourishing’. Drawing on data from measures that assess a wide range of positive and negative emotions, the authors propose that a mathematical ratio of positive to negative affect can be used to indicate the point at which one can be considered ‘flourishing’, denoting this cut-off score as the ‘Losada line’. Adopting a similar ‘whole person’ dynamic systems approach, Ford and Smith (2007) introduced their Thriving with Social Purpose (TSP) framework. Derived from a humanistic perspective, the TSP model supposes that the mechanism that spurs on all of the component systems is an innate desire to strive for social purpose. In striving for purpose, goals, beliefs and emotions are activated in ‘mutually reinforcing patterns’ (p. 153), ideally to reach what the authors refer to as ‘optimal functioning’, or, as Maslow described, self-actualization. In such broader dynamic systems models as these, the motivation–emotion relationship is but one piece situated in a larger set of ever-changing human systems. From our perspective it may be the combination of an ecological perspective with the dynamic systems approach that may provide a useful lens from which we, as researchers, can develop a better understanding of the transactions that occur during classroom events. The usefulness of this combination for researchers results from being able to talk about social historical contextual issues that provide emphasis on classroom transactions, and in developing understandings of the processes involved throughout the flow of activities that occur during particular episodes. It is from that perspective that we will now discuss some potential directions for future research.

DIRECTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH When reviewing the above-mentioned conclusions from researchers on motivation and emotion, certain avenues for future research become apparent. Perhaps the most useful future research objective is the notion of conceptualizing, accepting and integrating our understanding of motivation and emotion into classroom settings more effectively. This objective is

Motivation and Emotional Transactions: Where do We go from Here?


representative of the non-linear nature of the motivational and emotional transactions between student and teacher. As is evidenced in this chapter, one direction might be to focus on furthering our understanding of students’ emotions in achievement contexts and how these emotions affect their motivation (particularly their achievement motivation). In a reciprocal direction, we suggest further exploration into how teachers’ motivation and emotions are shaped by transactions with students’ emotions and how the emotions of both students and teachers are shaped by practices at both the school and policy levels (i.e. social historical contexts). In the following sections, we outline what we see as potential useful directions for inquiry in emotion and motivation for students, teachers and educational policy. We also offer suggestions for the use of new methodologies for examining classroom emotions and motivations.

Students As discussed in this chapter, much of the early and current research in emotions and education focuses on the breadth of students’ emotions in academic contexts. From a dynamic systems approach, next steps in the study of students’ emotions should focus on the student in emotional contexts, that is, moving beyond examining students’ emotions and motivations in isolation and turning our attention to how they play out in varying situations and contexts. For example, how do students’ emotions interact with those of teachers and what are the resulting motivations? Or, what personal or cultural characteristics of students are associated with certain emotional displays and what is the impact on motivation in the classroom context and how does this change over time? One example is the researchers who have examined the cultural contextual effect of emotions and motivations of students from backgrounds that are different from the dominant cultural atmosphere of the school or university (DeCuir-Gunby & Williams, 2007; Gloria, Castellanos, Scull, & Villegas, 2009; Rodgers & Summers, 2008; Winograd, 2009). Thus, by embedding student emotions in personal, historical and situational contexts, we may be able to examine more effectively not just achievement-related motivation and emotions, but also the full breadth of the classroom experience. Another area of research interest targets teacher training and classroom instruction as well as students (e.g. Meyer, 2009). Citing the need for curriculum improvements and increased student engagement, some current research examines the core components of curriculum that connect learning



activities with pleasant or unpleasant emotions and that make these tasks either challenging or fun in the eyes of students. The hope is that such discoveries will lead to the implementation of activities that will spur greater interest and enthusiasm on the part of students (Boekaerts, 2007).

Teachers The ecological dynamic systems perspective also guides our recommendations for future research on teacher motivation and emotional transactions. Emotional display rules, which suggest what emotions are appropriate in which situations, and emotional labor which, in the present discussion, refers to the amount of work needed to display those preferred emotions, can combine to create compassion fatigue wherein teachers may experience motivational and emotional exhaustion. Here, the teacher of a hard-working but struggling student may experience emotional exhaustion as she or he fights to maintain a positive attitude as the student’s emotions become more unpleasant. Such expectations of teacher emotional regulation have been shown to hinder teacher effectiveness as well as student success (Oplatka, 2009; Chang & Davis, 2009; Schutz et al., 2007; Meyer & Turner, 2007). As such, future research should seek to discover why some emotions are expressed while others are repressed. Chang and Davis (2009) suggested that some unpleasant interactions with ‘problem students’ might be avoided if teachers felt freer to display their array of emotions with students who might be crying out for affection. Additionally, the necessity of determining the underlying causes of teacher emotions as well as the resulting appraisals they make about those emotions is paramount. Some researchers have proposed that the gamut of teacher emotions, including anger and frustration, should be displayed at some level in order to appropriately model correct emotional responses for students and to prevent maladaptive responses to unpleasant emotion (Pekrun et al., 2007; Sutton, 2007). Clearly more inquiry is needed to determine what this might look like in the classroom and how those displays might influence teacher and student motivation. With these goals in mind, we recommend that longitudinal studies of teachers’ emotional development over time as well as ethnographies of these personal experiences would be helpful in gaining greater understanding of the underlying causes and resulting effects of teacher emotion. Further, keeping in mind student–teacher emotional transactions, the effects of teacher emotional modeling and development of students’ motivation and emotional regulation should also be examined.

Motivation and Emotional Transactions: Where do We go from Here?


For example, the greater use of imagination and emotion in the teaching may also increase students’ achievement motivation (Rosiek & Beghetto, 2009). To accomplish this, researchers suggest that teachers should find a personal connection with the subject content and develop ways to communicate this connection with students (Meyer, 2009). Accordingly, future research should investigate the effect of teachers’ connection with their subject matter (and likely the extent to which they have control over curricula), their resulting motivation and emotions and academic outcomes of their students.

School and Educational Policy A thorough knowledge of the motivation and emotional changes that will be experienced as a result of working conditions and future policy measures is also a necessary component of a complete and confident teacher (Meyer, 2009; Kelchtermans et al., 2009). As such, in accordance with the Ecological Dynamic Systems approach, the transactions between principals and teachers and the inherent emotions within these relationships should be studied in relation to teacher motivation and emotion in the classroom (Turner et al., 2009). On a wider scale, the implications of state and national policy for teacher emotional latitude and control over curricula and what this means for students’ emotional regulation, motivation and ultimate academic achievement should also be considered. For example, inquiries should be made into the long-term effects and emotional impact of highstakes testing and accountability measures on both students and teachers. As the previous quote from Ms Jones illustrates, the use of high-stakes testing is changing the nature of classroom transactions. Researchers who have looked at high-stakes testing indicate a growing concern for teacher control of curriculum development, a new classroom atmosphere that emphasizes performance goals more than mastery and teachers who may fear for their job security as the result of the value placed on such testing (Nichols & Berliner, 2007; Zembylas & Schutz, 2009). The ‘high-stakes testing era’ has created a new historical context in which student and teacher emotions and motivation may play out differently than in other stages in educational history. Thus, future research must address the impact of this era not only on students’ achievement outcomes, but also on students’ and teachers’ emotional regulation and motivation. From a motivational perspective, van Veen and Sleegers (2009) suggest that agency may serve to empower teachers toward the implementation of



policies in their classrooms and schools. Such agency, or control, in the reform policy process can affect teachers’ feelings toward these policies and their motivation to implement them in their classrooms. Thus, it would be useful to consider the transactions between teachers and their principals in schools that intend to implement reforms, acknowledging that a poor relationship between teachers and administrators can adversely affect the motivation required for proper implementation (Turner et al., 2009). Lastly, it is necessary to delve deeper into the actual reasons and causes for teachers’ emotional reactions to reform in order to better match reform measures to schools, teachers and their classrooms (Cross & Hong, 2009). The focus on the effects of policy on teachers and students necessitates a discussion of the power structures within school systems and their impact particularly on the emotions of novice teachers. With such knowledge, there will be less ambiguity and confusion when these teachers encounter strong emotional experiences on the job. Thus, instruction must be dissected carefully, in relation to not only students, but also new and incoming teachers.

FUTURE INQUIRY METHODS Throughout this chapter, we have mentioned some of the difficulties encountered in the study of emotions and the nature of the transactions between motivation and emotion. As researchers continue to develop their understanding of motivation and emotion in the classroom context, they would also benefit from the development of methods. One component of these adjustments might include more diversity in data collection points when studying emotion and motivation, from as frequently as at 1-min intervals to more traditional longitudinal time frames such as after several months or years. Smaller increments of time would place more emphasis on the immediate episode that emotion has on motivation and cognition while longer periods would allow researchers to study broader topics, such as teacher engagement or disengagement. Another approach might require a more in-depth examination of the specific emotions being studied and the corresponding tasks required of participants with the goal of preventing a mismatch between affect and task, therefore nullifying the intended results (Linnenbrink, 2007). This concept would also transfer to participants with high-test anxiety, demanding a greater focus on the congruence between each person’s needs and the type of test being administered (Zeidner, 2007). Therefore, for example, computerbased programs in which students complete an academic task and are asked

Motivation and Emotional Transactions: Where do We go from Here?


at preset intervals to indicate their emotions may not be appropriate for studying emotions in all students. A student who does not like to be interrupted during reading tasks, for example, may often respond with unpleasant emotions when prompted throughout the task. In this case, it is not actually the task itself that is prompting the unpleasant emotions, but the manner in which the emotions are being measured, creating a critical confounding variable if the goal is to study students’ emotions during that task. Minimizing such unintended effects is critical to the validity of studies of emotion and motivation, where the ecological dynamic systems perspective acknowledges that much is in constant flux in the emotional system. To uncover the intricacies of classroom motivation and emotion, researchers may also need to incorporate a greater variety of methods into future research endeavors, focusing on aspects of motivation and emotion with methods that range from neuropsychological systems to social historical contexts (Pekrun & Schutz, 2007; Zembylas & Schutz, 2009). The use of multiple methods would also provide a clearer and broader picture of the multiple dimensions of motivation and emotion. Broadening data collecting methods may include greater use of physiological, historical, observational measures such as facial action coding as well as qualitative methods (interview and observation) which should provide the researcher with a greater understanding of the physical, mental and historical components of the emotional and motivational transaction systems. As such, there is much to be investigated, discovered and improved in the future research of goals, emotions and motivation. Emotional rules, school reform, research practices, cultural implications and teacher training methods all yield a wealth of opportunity through clear avenues for continued research. Each of these has a strong impact on the emotions, motivations and practices of educators and students in our school systems. Through the aspirations and suggestions outlined above, we hope researchers can work to eliminate some of the ambiguities and achieve more consistent research results, allowing us to create a more emotionally, culturally and academically aware environment for both teachers and students.

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Linnenbrink, E. A. (2005). The dilemma of performance-approach goals: The use of multiple goal context to promote students’ motivation and learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97, 197–213. Linnenbrink, E. A. (2007). The role of affect in student learning: A multi-dimensional approach to considering the interaction of affect, motivation and engagement. In: P. A. Schutz & R. Pekrun (Eds), Emotion in education (pp. 107–124). San Diego, CA: Elsevier Inc. Linnenbrink, E. A., & Pintrich, P. R. (2002). Achievement goal theory and affect: An asymmetrical bidirectional model. Educational Psychologist, 37, 69–78. Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57, 705–717. Lodewyk, K. R., Winne, P. H., & Jamieson-Noel, D. L. (2009). Implications of task structure on self-regulated learning and achievement. Educational Psychology, 29, 1–25. Markus, H., & Nurius, P. (1986). Possible selves. American Psychologist, 41, 954–969. Marsh, H. W. (1990). The structure of academic self-concept: The Marsh/Shavelson model. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 623–636. Martin, A. J., Marsh, H. W., & Debus, R. L. (2001). Self-handicapping and defensive pessimism: Exploring a model of predictors and outcomes from a self-protection perspective. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 87–102. McGregor, H., & Elliot, A. J. (2002). Achievement goals as predictors of achievement-relevant processes prior to task engagement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 381–395. Meyer, D. K. (2009). Entering the emotional practice of teaching. In: P. A. Schutz & M. Zembylas (Eds), Advances in teacher emotion research: The impact on teachers’ lives (pp. 73–94). New York: Springer Publishing. Meyer, D. K., & Turner, J. C. (2007). Scaffolding emotions in classrooms. In: P. A. Schutz & R. Pekrun (Eds), Emotions in education (pp. 243–258). San Diego, CA: Academic Press. Nichols, S. L., & Berliner, D. C. (2007). Collateral damage: How high-stakes testing corrupts America’s schools. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press. Noddings, N. (1984). Caring: A feminine approach to ethics and moral education. Berkley, CA: University of California Press. Oplatka, I. (2009). Emotion management and display in teaching: Some ethical and moral considerations in the era of marketization and commercialization. In: P. A. Schutz & M. Zembylas (Eds), Advances in teacher emotion research: The impact on teachers’ lives (pp. 55–72). New York: Springer Publishing. Pearson, M. M. (2008). Voice of hope. Education and Urban Society, 41, 80–103. Pekrun, R., Frenzel, A. C., Goetz, T., & Perry, R. P. (2007). The control-value theory of achievement emotions: An integrative approach to emotions in education. In: P. A. Schutz & R. Pekrun (Eds), Emotions in education (pp. 13–36). San Diego, CA: Elsevier Inc. Pekrun, R., & Schutz, P. A. (2007). Where do we go from here? Implications and future directions for inquiry on emotions in education. In: P. A. Schutz & R. Pekrun (Eds), Emotion in education (pp. 303–321). San Diego, CA: Elsevier Inc. Pelletier, L. G., Seguin-Levesque, C., & Legault, L. (2002). Pressure from above and pressure from below as determinants of teachers’ motivation and teaching behaviors. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 186–196. Pintrich, P. R., & DeGroot, E. (1990). Motivational and self-regulated learning components of classroom academic performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 33–40.

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MOTIVATION AND SELF-REGULATION: TWO CLOSE FRIENDS Monique Boekaerts The study of motivated behavior in the classroom is about the why’s of students’ actions in the classroom: why do students take certain actions? Why do they move in a certain direction with a strong intensity and then abandon it? What do we know about these processes that can be used reliably to instill motivation in our students? In my opinion, one can only explain motivated and non-motivated behavior in the classroom in terms of the multiple types of resources that fuel a student’s self-regulation. Let me tell the story of Eduard to illustrate my point. Eduard is an eighteen-year-old student who is rather shy and does not have many friends. He has just told his parents that he passed an important math test. His parents are pleased and complement him on the effort he invested in his schoolwork in the last few weeks, despite his hard athletics training. Although Eduard’s parents support him in his sport ambition, they believe that he is depleting his resources by craving too much to belong to the absolute top in running. Eduard is highly motivated to break his club’s records on the 3000 and 5000 meters next week and he also trains twice a week for the Rotterdam marathon in April. Eduard’s parents are concerned because their son is in his final year in high school and needs to take quite a number of exams in May. They have serious doubts that he will get his certificate, because Eduard has asthma and needs to invest a great deal of time and energy to reach the same sports performance as his non-asthmatic peers. They had first tried to convince Eduard that he should not run the marathon, but seeing how happy he was when he was selected for the Rotterdam dream The Decade Ahead: Applications and Contexts of Motivation and Achievement Advances in Motivation and Achievement, Volume 16B, 69–108 Copyright r 2010 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 0749-7423/doi:10.1108/S0749-7423(2010)000016B006



MONIQUE BOEKAERTS team sponsored by the Asthma Foundation made them reluctant to interfere. Strangely enough Eduard seems to have more energy nowadays than ever before. He follows a stringent athletics training program but also seems to find the time and energy to do his schoolwork, prepare for tests, and socialize with his athletic friends. A few weeks later catastrophe struck. During his extensive training Eduard ruptured his Achilles tendon. The doctor told him that it would take months to heal completely. He had to give up all hopes of breaking the club records and running the marathon was also impossible. His parents tried to console him, telling him that he was still young and could run the marathon next year. But deep down, they thought that this was probably all for the best because now he would not exhaust his resources with his sports activities and invest all his energy in his schoolwork. Eduard was heartbroken. He seemed to accept the hardship but sat listlessly in a chair not finding the energy to do anything. Eduard’s parents did not understand why their son felt so exhausted, why he did not feel like socializing with his friends, and above all, why he did not study as hard as before. It seemed that the resources that he had drawn on to move forward in the last couple of months had dried up and that he did not know how he could compensate for the depleted energy source. For several weeks Eduard went to the physiotherapy sessions but he did not go to his sports club anymore. Every time he tried to run he felt disheartened because it caused a sharp pain in his foot. Two weeks before the Rotterdam marathon he ran into his coach and told him that he had given up all hope, because the physiotherapy sessions did not work. The coach chided him for not being committed to his revalidation program. He told him that he could still break the club records and run the Eindhoven marathon in the fall if he committed himself to a new goal: train hard – at least twice a week – to revalidate his Achilles tendon. Eduard followed his advice; soon after the Rotterdam marathon he could train again with his mates, he passed his exams, and ran the Eindhoven marathon in the fall.

Eduard’s example provides a real-life context for this chapter. I selected this true story because it illustrates how new opportunities may create a new context in which individuals set themselves new goals and strive to achieve them. Whenever individuals set themselves new goals, they are initiating change. This implies that they need to invest a great deal of resources in order to get moving in the right direction and to keep moving forward to reach new standards, also when the going gets hard. Granted, most individuals may have access to the necessary and sufficient resources to acquire a skill or reach a certain outcome, yet they may fail to reach the set standards because they lack information on how to use their resources optimally and on how to compensate for depletion of resources. I will come back to Eduard’s example later in the discussion, after I have discussed current thinking about self-regulation. In this chapter, I will focus on the nature of self-regulation in the service of one’s salient goals. I will describe different types of self-regulation

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strategies and illustrate that choice of these strategies is intricately connected to the positive and negative emotions that are experienced during the pursuit of one’s multiple goals. I will briefly summarize the literature on goal pursuit, drawing attention to some conceptual distinctions, such as between approach and avoidance goals, activating and deactivating goal commitment, and conscious and non-conscious goal pursuits. I will also discuss the pivotal role of emotions in goal pursuit. Finally, I will give some directions for further research on motivation and self-regulation.

SELF-REGULATION IS A COMPLEX, MULTI-COMPONENT, ITERATIVE, SELF-STEERING PROCESS In recent years, it has become evident that self-regulation plays a central role in human functioning, including learning and achievement in school. Although there are different definitions of self-regulation, there is general consensus that it refers to a multi-component, iterative, self-steering process that targets one’s own cognitions, feelings, and actions, as well as features of the environment for modulation in the service of one’s own goals (Boekaerts, Maes, & Karoly, 2005). Educational psychologists agree that learning in the classroom involves cognitive and affective processing and is heavily influenced by social processes. This implies that students should be able and willing to regulate their cognitions, motivation, and emotions, as well as to adapt to the social context in order to facilitate their learning. Yet, there is at present neither a uniformly accepted definition of self-regulation nor that of self-regulated learning. Most theorists agree that self-regulation in the classroom is neither an all-or-none process nor a property of the learning system. Rather, it consists of multiple processes and components that interact in complex ways. Definitions have focused either on the structure of self-regulation, describing the different components of the self-regulation process, or on the processes that are involved.

Self-regulation Draws on Metacognitive Knowledge and Skills Early theories of self-regulated learning took the actual learning process as the primary objective of self-regulation and focused on the description of the metacognitive strategies that students need to have access to in order to



guide and direct their own learning. Interventions were set up to train these strategies and meta-analyses revealed that the training of learning skills is effective to the extent that teachers make students metacognitively aware of the self-regulation strategies that are appropriate in specific learning contexts and also help them to automate newly acquired self-regulatory strategies (Boekaerts & Corno, 2005). Researchers working within the tradition of metacognition defined self-regulation as the attainment and use of metacognitive knowledge in the service of organizing and directing one’s own learning in such a fashion that domain-specific knowledge and skills can be acquired. Various metacognitive strategies were described, including orienting, planning, executing the action plan, monitoring and control, and evaluation (Brown, 1987). Butler and Winne’s (1995) model of self-regulation specified that when students begin with a given task, they should set a learning goal and activate strategies to meet this goal. It is crucial that they monitor their activities in order to assess their progress toward the goal and adapt their strategies in function of internal and external feedback about the task. However, Winne (1995) pointed out that not all students are able to carry out metacognitive monitoring and control. In order to monitor well, students need to feel confident that they are able to perform the task, but their self-efficacy judgments need to be well calibrated. Students who are better ‘‘calibrated’’ simply have more accurate information about how to define the learning outcomes and to determine how much time and effort they need to allocate to the task. They also know which strategies to select and how to monitor progress relative to a performance standard. As such, adequate goal setting and monitoring will result in better achievement. Winne (1995) also emphasized that goal setting and monitoring come at a cost, because these metacognitive strategies use up a great deal of cognitive resources, specifically working memory capacity and attentional resources. He clarified that students who have not yet proceduralized the declarative knowledge that is necessary for doing a task will not be in a position to devote conscious attention to the goal-setting and monitoring process because it exceeds their limited processing capacity. This implies that they need external regulation to help them steer the learning process, determine progress, and evaluate the learning outcomes, but also that the metacognitive experiences that these students build up during the task may be severely biased. Zimmerman (2000) viewed self-regulation as a social process, and he described the development of self-regulation in terms of four successive stages, namely observation, emulation, self-control, and self-regulation.

Motivation and Self-regulation: Two Close Friends


In Zimmerman’s model, self-regulation strategies include the regulation of cognition (monitoring and controlling cognition), the regulation of motivation (monitoring and controlling motivation and affect), behavior regulation (adjusting one’s performance in order to produce desirable outcomes), and environmental regulation (adapting the environment so as to produce optimal learning conditions). Zimmerman emphasized that selfregulation is a cyclical process that involves a forethought stage (i.e., prior experiences and motivational beliefs are activated and help the students to set proximal goals and develop an action plan), a performance stage (i.e., the outcomes of the forethought stage are used to experiment and to observe the outcomes of this experimentation), and a self-reflection stage (i.e., the students judge their performance, experience affect, and attribute the outcomes; they seek feedback and review and adjust their goals). This information feeds forward into the next self-regulation cycle.

Self-regulation Draws on Conditional Knowledge and Consists of Different Types of Self-regulation Strategies Boekaerts (1997) adopted a structural and a process approach to selfregulated learning that described six structural components that make up self-regulated learning, including (1) conceptual knowledge, (2) cognitive strategies, (3) cognitive self-regulation strategies, (4) conditional knowledge, including metacognitive and metamotivational knowledge, (5) motivation strategies, and (6) motivational self-regulation. Boekaerts argued that, although it is difficult to differentiate the learning process per se from the regulation of the learning process, it is essential that researchers and teachers differentiate between self-regulation strategies in the service of regulating the learning goal(s) (i.e., strategies that guide the activation of relevant declarative, procedural, and metacognitive knowledge in order to select, combine, and coordinate the cognitive strategies that are necessary to perform the learning assignments and to follow the instructions) and self-regulation strategies that protect the learning goals from competing action tendencies (i.e., strategies that guide emotion regulation and volitional control). Boekaerts (1997, 2006) emphasized that these different types of selfregulation strategies draw on different types of conditional knowledge, including metacognitive knowledge (i.e., knowledge of how the cognitive system functions and one’s own strengths and weaknesses in diverse domains), metamotivational knowledge (i.e., beliefs about how the



motivation and emotion systems function, and what works and does not work to motivate oneself in different contexts), and meta-interpersonal knowledge (i.e., knowledge about social rules that govern classroom behavior and about which supporting activities can or cannot be expected from teacher and peers). This structural model is complemented by a process model of selfregulation, namely the dual processing self-regulation model (Boekaerts & Corno, 2005; Boekaerts, 2006) that describes when, why, and how students self-regulate their learning in the classroom. Together, the two models help researchers and teachers conceptualize why some students’ self-regulation system works coherently in some subject-matter domains and not in other domains, and why self-regulation tends to break down under specific learning conditions.

The Dual Processing Self-regulation Model The dual processing self-regulation model is a dynamic self-regulation model that describes two main goal priorities that students strive for in the context of the classroom, namely expanding their personal resources and keeping their well-being within reasonable bounds. It is assumed that students try to achieve a balance between these two goal priorities. When they want to expand their personal resources, they initiate activities in the growth or mastery pathway (e.g., when they want to increase their competence in a subject-matter domain, their social competence, their status, social bonding, and social support). When students want to protect their resources against loss, they move onto the well-being pathway. They are then more concerned with restoring their level of arousal than with increasing their resources (i.e., they want to feel safe, secure, happy, and satisfied). One of the reasons why students engage in activities to increase their resources is because they value the activities themselves and feel competent to do them (e.g., because these activities satisfy their mastery goals, their being happy and fulfilled goals, and their social support goals). Another reason may be that they perceive the outcomes of these activities as instrumental to achieve material gain, to demonstrate that they are superior to others, or that they are unique. Boekaerts (2006) argued that under conditions of perceived gains in resources, self-regulation is energized from the top down, based on the students’ own values, needs, goals, and aspirations. Regretfully, in a school context, most tasks are externally imposed and might not be perceived by the students themselves as attractive or instrumental to increase their

Motivation and Self-regulation: Two Close Friends


personal resources (see also Deci & Ryan, 2000). Teachers might not tell their students explicitly why they need to acquire the new knowledge and skills and leave it to their own devices to motivate themselves to get started and to finish the task. Under these conditions, some students might experience negative affect and move onto the well-being pathway straightaway. That means that the learning goals are pushed aside and that other goals have gained dominance in the goal system. Boekaerts (2006) further argued that – even if the students are led onto the mastery pathway initially –many obstacles might occur en route to the learning goal. Indeed, while working on the task, students continuously appraise the learning conditions and their own performance. These non-stop appraisals and their concomitant emotions direct activities in the selfregulation system, to either continue on the mastery pathway or re-direct activity to the well-being pathway. When students focus on cues in the learning environment that signal unfavorable learning conditions, obstacles, and drawbacks, they may automatically switch from the mastery pathway to the well-being pathway, mainly because they anticipate loss of resources. At such a point, cue-driven or bottom-up self-regulation takes over in order to prevent (further) negative events from occurring. Boekaerts and Corno (2005) assumed that students can switch back from the well-being pathway to the mastery pathway by using emotion regulation (see Boekaerts, in press) and motivation regulation strategies (volitional control). Wolters (2003) described several motivation regulation strategies that students might use to increase, sustain, and modify their level of motivation, for example, interest enhancement, social reinforcement, task restructuring, self-consequating, raising self-efficacy, and dealing with distracters. It is important to note, however, that the motivation regulation strategies that students might use to steer their own behavior in the direction of the learning outcomes may or may not be adequate. For example, not giving up easily when one is faced with difficulties, but trying out several strategies to overcome the obstacles may be non-adaptive in a context where one does not have access to the necessary conditional knowledge. Students who lack conditional knowledge to select or generate adequate self-regulation strategies may persist in a way of solving the problem that is highly ineffective. This may lead to failure, with its concomitant negative emotions, and embed the learning task in an unfavorable network of associations. Such inefficient strategy use will not only minimize the students’ chances of solving the current problem correctly, but also undermine adaptive functioning in the future.



Boekaerts and Corno (2005) argued that students need access to adequate conditional knowledge to help them respond flexibly to a diverse range of classroom situations. They need to build up conditional knowledge so that they can use it when required to select cognitive and motivation strategies in the classroom. In order to build up this knowledge, teachers should give their students explicit instructions to focus on relevant aspects of their own learning process. This will help them to acquire detailed information about how the different subsystems work together during the learning process. Focusing explicitly on the different functions of the cognitive, motivation, emotion, and interpersonal subsystems, respectively, will encourage students to fine-tune their conditional knowledge regarding their functioning in specific domains. This information is a pre-condition for the selection of effective, cognitive and motivation regulation strategies in a given domain and for bringing these strategies on automatic control. As long as students do not yet have access to automatic cognitive and motivation self-regulation strategies, they need help and support from the teacher or a more advanced peer. As Hadwin and Oshige (in press) explained, at such a stage in the development of self-regulation strategies, co-regulation is in order, because it reduces the processing load by scaffolding specific self-regulatory processes. During co-regulation, students will gradually become aware of how they can support their own learning process (i.e., they build up conditional knowledge), while beginning to appropriate relevant self-regulation strategies. Building up and updating one’s conditional knowledge requires considerable practice, but the reward is that this information will be activated automatically when needed, thus freeing capacity for the execution of the assignment per se. Several studies have shown that training in the use of volitional strategies increases students’ on-task behavior (Randi & Corno, 2000) and that training in emotion regulation strategies promotes students’ ability to cope with negative emotions (Efklides & Petkaki, 2005) and their mathematics achievement (Punmongkol, 2009).

Self-regulation is a System Concept The dual processing self-regulation model describes self-regulation as a multi-component, iterative, self-steering process that is energized by perceived gains in resources and the prevention of loss in resources. This conceptualization is based on Carver and Scheier’s (2000) and Higgins’ (1997) self-regulation model, which I will discuss in the next section.

Motivation and Self-regulation: Two Close Friends


In this chapter, I will attempt to show that the way students regulate their behavior in the classroom is to a large extent based on the principles of homeostasis and heterostasis and that their perception of resource gains and losses, which is fundamental to self-regulation, is contrary to popular beliefs, largely based on unconscious, automatic processing. Looking at selfregulation from the perspective of conscious and unconscious goal pursuits will allow us to describe the self and the perception of external demands and pressures in a larger system.

PERSONAL GOALS MOVE PEOPLE FORWARD In the social psychology literature, researchers have tried to conceptualize what directs and energizes meaningful actions. Social psychologists hold the view that most, if not all, actions that individuals engage in are purposeful and goal-directed, steering behavior in the direction of valued goals and away from non-valued goals. Examples of such goal theories are Markus and Nurius’ (1986) Possible Self Model, Higgins’ (1997) Self-guide Model, Little’s (1989) Personal Project Model, Klinger’s (1975) Current Concern Model, Emmons’ (1997) Personal Strivings Model, Carver and Scheier’s Control Theory (2000), and Schwartz’ (1992) theory of Basic Human Values. A basic tenet in all these theories is that internal guides, or goals, give meaning and direction to people’s lives. Austin and Vancouver (1996) defined goals as ‘‘internal representations of desired states, where states are broadly construed as outcomes, events, or processes’’ (p. 338). Other researchers viewed goals as an object or aim of action (Locke & Latham, 1990), a future level of performance (Garland, 1985), personal projects (Little, 1989), and a determination to perform certain activities or to attain certain future conditions (Bandura, 1986).

Approach vs. Avoidance Goals The distinction between approach and avoidance goals is as old as psychology itself; it was already present in the 1940s. Over time, different labels were given to a system that grouped approach goals, such as the behavioral activation system, the behavioral facilitation system, and the behavioral approach system. The system that generated avoidance goals was referred to by labels such as the inhibition system and the behavioral withdrawal system.



Carver and Scheier (2000) argued convincingly that all behavior is organized for moving toward desired outcomes (approach system) and for avoiding undesired outcomes (avoidance system). They argued that the desirability or undesirability of outcomes is embedded in the person’s goal representations, which they described as knowledge structures that contain content, purpose, and process aspects, as well as the standard that is desired. The standard acts as a reference value that can be monitored to detect progress toward goal attainment. Carver and Scheier (1981) described approach and avoidance processes in terms of discrepancy-reducing and discrepancy-enlarging feedback loops, respectively. They argued that goals serve as reference values for these feedback loops. The system is organized such that it creates or maintains conformity of input to the standard. Negative feedback or discrepancy-reducing feedback loops use the comparison value as an attractor. When the system detects a discrepancy between a current state and a positively valued reference point, it shifts in the direction of the set standard (approach). For example, Emilie wants to practice writing because she wants to show her brother that she is just as smart as he is (approach goal). She compares her writing level with that of her brother and tries to come as close as possible. Negative feedback loops keep the system stable by following the principles of homeostasis. As such, vital parameters are kept within acceptable, pre-determined limits. By contrast, positive feedback or discrepancy-enlarging feedback loops use the comparison value as a repeller, shifting away from this negatively valenced reference point. For example, Ron wants to practice writing because he does not want to be a poor writer like his sister. He tries to make his behavior as different as possible from that of his sister. Positive feedback loops keep the self-regulation system flexible by following principles of heterostasis, which leads to change and adaptation. Carver and Scheier argued that it is essential that there is a balance between positive and negative feedback loops. Translated to the classroom, this implies that students strive to maintain a multitude of desirable stable equilibria but at the same time strive to expand the system so that new equilibria emerge. More concretely, they want to keep the self-regulation system stable (homeostasis) in terms of wanting to feel secure, self-confident in the learning situation, and protected. They want to retain their identity as well as respect from teachers and peers, and maintain social bonding and social support. However, they also want to experiment, expand their repertoires, and initiate change by using the principle of heterostasis. This implies that students will feel the need to screen the environment so that they can detect undesirable end states

Motivation and Self-regulation: Two Close Friends


immediately and prevent loss of resources. In other words, growth and development is promoted, provided that the system is perceived as stable enough. Higgins’ (1997) conceptualization of self-regulation is also highly relevant for our present discussion. He distinguished between goals that individuals pursue because they have attached value to them (ideal self, internal goals, personal goals, desired outcomes, and future selves) and goals that they pursue because somebody else has deemed them important (ought self, externally imposed goals, and feared selves). In his self-discrepancy theory, Higgins (1997) described perceived discrepancies between the representations of the actual self and the ideal self, which yield depressed affect, and between representations of the actual self and the ought self (which result in anxiety). Higgins further argued that individuals who pursue approach goals aim at regulating or maintaining goals that are true to the self. Higgins called these goals promotion goals because their focus is on the attainment of one’s higher order goals, values, interests, and aspirations. By contrast, individuals who construe the self as an ‘‘ought self’’ feel compelled to perform tasks or jobs in order to reach externally imposed goals, which may or may not be desirable for them. Higgins argued that these individuals primarily set themselves prevention goals; they focus on safety, security, and responsibility.

Activating Goal Commitment It is important to note that most goal theorists conceptualized the goal processes that take place when individuals pursue a goal as conscious, goaldirected processes (Locke & Latham, 1990; Gollwitzer, 1999; Ryan & Deci, 2000). They grouped goal processes into two distinct stages: goal setting and goal striving. Gollwitzer (1999) described the link between the goal-setting and goalstriving stages as a path connecting two sides of the river Rubicon, representing commitment. In the goal-setting stage, individuals are located at one side of the Rubicon. Conscious and pre-conscious processes transform their needs, interests, and values into a concrete intention to act. He clarified that before crossing the Rubicon (i.e., before they are committed), individuals need to make many decisions about the targets, focus, and type of engagement that they will commit themselves to. It is evident that it is much easier for people to commit themselves to a particular goal when (1) they value the activity it implies, (2) they know what actions



need to be taken to reach the goal, (3) they experience a positive experiential state, characterized by a feeling of competence, joy, and interest, and (4) they perceive the environmental conditions as optimal for goal pursuit. Once a goal is set, people are committed to realize that goal. However, they are not obligated to any specific course of action (i.e., to when, where, and how they want to attain the goal). Gollwitzer (1999) had argued before that setting a goal is just the first step toward goal attainment. It will be followed by many post-decision conflicts that need to be solved, because the action plan that was formed initially is most probably inaccurate and incomplete. In the goal-setting stage, individuals can only make a fragmentary mental representation of the goal and the conditions that will prevail at the other side of the river. Once they are committed, they need to pick up cues in the environment that will facilitate the adjustment of the action plan to the local conditions. Gollwitzer reasoned further that planning the implementation of a set goal creates an implementation mind-set that facilitates goal-directed actions, such as the perception and activation of goal-related information and the prevention of distractions. Ideally, implementation intentions should make the links between situational cues and specific action programs and scripts explicit. Bargh and Gollwitzer (1994) recommended that situation–action plan links (when–where plans) should be formulated at the goal-setting stage in order to ensure the habitual serving of the goal within a given situation. For example, a student who finds it difficult to prepare for a text processing exam may formulate the following when–where plan: I will prepare for the exam by doing past exam questions; when I note that an exam question is difficult, I will re-double my effort, highlighting the most important words in the text, and then re-reading the highlights and make a summary. More often than not, students embark on a learning activity without much conscious consideration of the obstacles or drawbacks that they might encounter on their route to the goal and on the strategies that they might use to counteract adversity. This implies that they will not have a plan of action ready when they are faced with difficulties and hence will have to generate it on the spot. Many students are not able to do that and commonly rely on external regulation to help them overcome these obstacles. Boekaerts (2006) explained that task interruptions usually raise the level of arousal and that students may experience negative emotions, such as irritation, anxiety, disappointment, or hopelessness. If negative affect is triggered, the students’ self-regulatory focus shifts from a promotion to a prevention focus, at which point security and tranquility goals gain dominance in the goal system, putting the learning goals on hold.

Motivation and Self-regulation: Two Close Friends


Students then need emotion regulation strategies to reduce the level of arousal, and volitional strategies to either re-focus on the task or de-activate commitment.

De-activating Goal Commitment Heckhausen and Farruggia (2003) adapted the action phase model to fit developmental regulation. They argued that individuals pursue age-related opportunities that have long-term consequences for other goals. When a developmental deadline approaches (e.g., having one’s first child), motivational engagement might increase, reflected in stronger investment of primary control (i.e., fundamental striving for effectiveness and control) and volitional self-commitment. When the goal that was selected is attained or proves to be unattainable, a threshold for goal disengagement is crossed. The person should then give a stop command in order not to waste too many resources (i.e., de-activate goal commitment). Heckhausen and Farruggia (2003) showed that people should shift from primary control to secondary control (i.e., coming to terms with loss of control and releasing commitment) in order to make it easier to de-activate goal commitment and that the change from high engagement to low engagement should be radical (investment of time, effort, and attention). However, having to de-activate one’s most salient goal triggers negative affect and at that moment a mechanism for self-protection is set in motion. They found that individuals who acted in a phase-congruent way (i.e., high engagement in the pre-deadline stage and disengagement in the post-deadline stage) experienced fewer depressive symptoms than those who behaved phase-incongruently. Examples of disengagement are discovering negative aspects of the original goal (sour grapes) and finding positive alternatives. Let me return to Eduard’s example to illustrate what I have discussed so far. When Eduard decided to train hard for the 3,000 and 5,000 m and for the Rotterdam marathon, he had crossed the Rubicon. He considered this opportunity as crucial to his future sports career and was highly committed. Before his injury, he channeled a great deal of energy into his (sport) performance goal but he also launched engagement on his other goals (i.e., getting good grades, pleasing his parents, and making new friends). He seemed to be in control of his energy supply and was convinced that he could attain his multiple goals simultaneously. Just imagining how proud he would be when he attained the desired outcomes gave him all the energy he needed, and getting positive feedback gave him a great deal of pleasure



and respect. In fact, Eduard was in the phase of implementing his actions, and he dealt swiftly with minor obstacles and drawbacks. When Eduard anticipated that he would not be able to run the marathon, he felt robbed of his current purpose in life. His most salient goal was frustrated. His energy level went down, and he could not replenish it. Why? Eduard’s injury could be viewed as a post-decision conflict. He had to give up on a fundamental striving for effectiveness and control (i.e., primary control striving) and shift to secondary control (coming to terms with his injury and giving up on his current athletic goals). As Heckhausen and Farruggia (2003) argued, at such a point, the threshold for goal disengagement was crossed, and this should de-activate goal commitment. Ideally, Eduard should have given a stop command in order not to waste too many resources, but he could not radically shift from primary to secondary control. His parents’ interventions were to no avail, but his coach’s intervention helped him to act in a phase-appropriate way. Eduard’s coach did not ask him to release his commitment to his personal project. Instead he helped him, in the first place, to come to terms with a temporary loss of control. He guided Eduard to turn a proximal goal (e.g., achieving an excellent running record now) into a delayed goal. Second, he helped him to identify a sub-goal (rehabilitation in the club) that he could link to his sports performance goal, and to establish a direct link between this concrete action program and his sport performance goal (what Heckhausen and Farruggia called ‘‘finding positive alternatives’’).

EMOTIONS AND GOAL PURSUIT In line with the view previously discussed that goals are conceptualized as knowledge structures, several researchers have argued that what is stored in these mental representations as well as their accessibility significantly moderates people’s emotional experiences (Carver & Scheier, 1998) and the way they steer and direct their behavior (e.g., Chartrand & Bargh, 1996; Shah, Kruglanski, & Friedman, 2002; Custers & Aarts, 2005). Fredrickson and Losada (2005) pointed to the prominent role that emotions play in human functioning. They discovered that the ratio of positive to negative affect is the key predictor of flourishing, which they describe as living within an optimal range of functioning that promotes growth and resilience. It is therefore important that educational psychologist fully understand the different functions of positive and negative emotions.

Motivation and Self-regulation: Two Close Friends


Emotions act as Warning Signals Frijda (1986) argued that emotions are fundamental components of the information processing system. They have been evolutionary built into the system to interrupt all ongoing activities with a high priority in order to warn people of dangers in the environment and prepare the body for rapid actions. Frijda explained that emotions arise in response to events that are consequential in nature to the person himself or herself. Fredrickson and Losada (2005) reviewed the literature on positive and negative affects and concluded that positive emotions and feelings signal that all is well and that individuals can afford to broaden their attention and create an open mindset that fosters exploration, experimentation, play, and novel ways of viewing and doing things. They showed that a feel-good state broadens behavioral repertoires, and increases intuition and creativity. Moreover, experiments showed that induced positive feelings altered bodily systems to speed up recovery from various illnesses, altered frontal brain asymmetry, and increased immune function. These findings confirm the promotion goal approach advocated by Higgins, Shah, and Friedman (1997). By contrast, experienced or anticipated negative affect signals that the current situation is problematic and in need of close inspection. Hence, one has to be on guard and narrow one’s attention to the source of the threat (or anticipated loss). This shift in attention usually produces ruminating thoughts that interfere with an ongoing task. This view is in line with the prevention focus that Higgins and colleagues described. On the basis of his self-regulation theory, Higgins (1997) predicted and found that emotional responses to goal attainment co-vary with people’s goal focus (i.e., with a promotion or prevention focus). Individuals experience negative emotions when they perceive a discrepancy between the way they are and the way they would like to be (ideal self). Such discrepancies result typically in low negative arousal, labeled as sadness and disappointment. They also experience negative emotions when they detect discrepancies between the current self and the way others expect them to be (ought self). High negative arousal, labeled as anxiety, guilt, shame, or hopelessness, may be the result. These negative emotions instigate a resolve to escape from this affective state (avoidance behavior).

Emotions as Error Signals Carver and Scheier (1998) also linked affect to activity in the approach and avoidance systems. They argued that people feel aversive emotional states



when they judge that they have fallen short of the set standards. Positive emotions result from perceptions of positive outcomes, including reaching and surpassing set standards and doing better than others. Carver (2003) further argued that both the approach and the avoidance system may evoke positive feelings by doing well and negative feelings by doing poorly. Yet, doing well by moving toward a desirable outcome is not the same as doing well by moving away from an undesirable outcome (threat), and the reverse applies for doing poorly. Accordingly, Carver and colleagues proposed that the affect individuals experience may differ as a function of whether the approach or avoidance system is managing their behavior. Typical emotions that individuals experience when the approach system is in operation range from elation, eagerness, and excitement to sadness and dejection. Emotions associated with the avoidance system range typically from fear and anxiety to relief, serenity, and contentment. Carver and Scheier (2000) emphasized that the feedback system (recall the positive and negative feedback loops discussed previously) does not want to detect either positive or negative emotions, because either quality implies that a deviation from the standard has been detected or that the system needs to reduce it by changing the output. They view emotions as short-lived error signals in the feedback loops, which prompt individuals to adjust the rate of progress. When the rate of progress is below the expected mark, intensifying effort is in order. When it is above the mark, effort may be decreased. To illustrate this point, imagine that Eduard is trying to finish his homework in time for dinner so that he does not need to work after his training at the club. Half an hour before dinner he feels his anxiety mounting, because he has only solved the first two math problems of a series of five. The negative feeling signals that his rate of progress is too slow to attain the set goal (here: I want to finish before dinner so that I can stay late at the club). Eduard’s first response is to try harder by using a more cumbersome approach that involves monitoring and reflecting at every step of the solution process. If better strategy use works, then Eduard will move forward again and the negative affect will decrease. Now imagine that Eduard feels happy because half an hour before dinner he has already finished four out of five difficult math problems. This is much better than he had anticipated. Hence, the system detects a discrepancy – even though it is a positive one – and wants to reduce it. Eduard’s response may be to ease back and switch on the radio or make that phone call to his friend that he forgot to make all day. This coasting behavior (i.e., diversion of energy) will bring the subsequent rate of progress back to criterion.

Motivation and Self-regulation: Two Close Friends


Emotions and Resource Allocation Carver’s findings suggest that emotions experienced during goal pursuit play a significant role in the selective investment of energy across different goals. It is important to note though that much of the research on which he based his assumptions have been obtained in a single-goal context. In such contexts, an individual’s effort can be directed at reducing the noted discrepancy between the present state of the focal goal and its desired future state. In a multi-goal environment the situation is more complex. Multiple goals compete for the limited resources and investing too much energy in one goal may be at the expense of other salient goals (Kruglanski et al., 2002). Louro, Pieters, and Zeelenberg’s (2007) study set out to discover the principles that underlie the effect of emotions on resource allocation in multiple-goal environments. They proposed that individuals use moment-tomoment variations in goal-related emotions (i.e., gut feeling) as well as the distance still to be covered to reach the goal to establish a dynamic priority system among competing goals. In their study, they presented university students with two scenarios: one related to the investment of time in the preparation of a much-valued top athletic performance (athletic goal) and the other related to obtaining a much-valued part-time job in an art museum (material gain goal). In this multi-goal environment, both action and inaction have an opportunity cost that is translated into slower goal progress. Louro et al. (2007) reported that the students balanced their resources between the two competing goals by using their expectancy of success in each goal domain as a benchmark. More concretely, their success expectation mediated the effect of goal-related emotions and goal proximity on effort allocation across multiple goals. Students allocated most resources to the focal goal when success expectancy was at an intermediate level and least resources when it was at a high or low level. A mirror image was noted for the competing goal. Louro and colleagues also described how students continuously calibrate their regulation of resources in terms of their goal-related emotions and perceived progress; they slowed down when the attainment of the focal goal was imminent and goal-related emotions signaled progress. At such a point, they re-prioritized competing goals. Hence, these researchers confirmed Carver and Scheier’s coasting effect and also lend support to his reprioritization hypothesis (i.e., that positive affect may signal that one can temporarily put the current goal aside – assigning it a lower priority in the goal queue). I will discuss goal reprioritization in the section on goal coordination.



WHAT GOALS DO STUDENTS BRING INTO THE CLASSROOM? Although there is a vast body of literature on learning and performance goals, little educationally relevant information is available about the diversity of goals that students pursue in the classroom and about how these different goals compete for the limited pool of resources. The reason why there is scarcity of educationally relevant information is that goal theorists working in education have conceptualized student goals in a narrow sense, namely as the reason or purpose behind their engagement in achievement situations. Originally, researchers identified two main reasons why students engage in classroom activities, namely ego-involved goals and task-involved goals. Afterwards, they made a distinction between four different goal orientations, namely mastery approach and mastery-avoid goals and performance approach and avoid goals (Pintrich, 2000). Results emanated from achievement goal theory revealed the different reasons that students may have when they do or do not set to work in a classroom context. However, these results were obtained in a single-goal context, namely achievement situations where students are encouraged to achieve because they are graded. Ford (1992) was the first to recognize that a shift in emphasis was needed and that the content of the goals that students strive for in the classroom should also be the focus of our attention. Ford’s (1992) integrative Motivational Systems Theory describes goals as the unifying constructs of human functioning. His goal taxonomy consists of 24 content goals that are considered important in people’s life, namely understanding, positive self-evaluation, exploration, intellectual creativity, entertainment, tranquility, happiness, bodily sensations, physiological wellbeing, unity, transcendence, belongingness, social responsibility, resource, equity, individuality, superiority, resource acquisition, mastery, management, material gain, safety, self-determination, and task creativity. These 24 content goals may be viewed as personally meaningful projects that are deeply rooted in people’s everyday reality. These goals provide a temporal anchor for thinking, feeling, and planning; they determine the importance of social roles and settings as well as the opportunities for learning and development. Ford (1992) argued that none of the 24 goals is inherently more important than any of the other goals but that goals may come to the foreground in specific settings or periods of one’s life. In line with many other researchers, Ford assumed that goals are organized hierarchically, meaning that goals that are located lower down the goal hierarchy are more concrete and serve as sub-goals to the goals located

Motivation and Self-regulation: Two Close Friends


higher up in the goal hierarchy. Ford explained that these sub-goals are not only more concrete, but also provide immediate incentives (i.e., mobilize effort), thus guiding performance in the service of more distal goals. Several educational psychologists followed Ford’s lead and studied what it is that students want to attain in the classroom (e.g., Boekaerts, De Koning, & Vedder, 2006; Dowson & McInerney, 2001; Wentzel, 1996). For example, Dowson and McInerney (2001) identified four different goals that middle school students associate with academic achievement. They may want to achieve academically to enhance a sense of belonging (social affiliation goals), to meet social obligations (social responsibility goals), and to assist others in their development (social concern goals). Students may also want to achieve academically with as little effort as possible (work avoidance goals). Using inductive content analysis to analyze their interview and observation data, Dowson and McInerney gained insight into the action programs and scripts that students preferentially use to attain these different types of social goals. Social affiliation goals were frequently pursued by interacting with and assisting peers academically outside the classroom. Social responsibility goals were frequently attained by being involved in extracurricular activities, volunteering for classroom jobs, taking on senior roles, and making peers aware of rules and regulations. Social concern goals were often reached by volunteering for helping roles and trying to understand the material oneself, before explaining it to poor students. Students who pursued work avoidance goals made use of diverse effort minimization strategies, such as copying, negotiating less demanding tasks, and feigning incompetence and misunderstanding. Wentzel (1996) also defended the view that a content approach is essential if one wants to study the effect that specific goals have on the pursuit of other content goals in the classroom. She found that students who pursued social and mastery goals in concert were more willing to invest effort in their schoolwork. She also demonstrated that pro-social goals and social responsibility goals facilitate achievement, whereas belongingness with peers and entertainment goals impede rather than support learning. Interestingly, Wentzel (1989) reported different goal patterns in high- and low-achieving students. High-achieving students tended to pursue mastery and management goals in concert with social responsibility goals. Belongingness with peers and entertainment goals were less important in their school life. On the other hand, low achievers considered the latter two goals as salient in their school life. Boekaerts and colleagues (Boekaerts, 2009; Boekaerts et al., 2006; Hijzen, Boekaerts, & Vedder, 2006) confirmed that students who strive for social and



mastery goals simultaneously are more productive than students who only strive for mastery goals. Contrary to popular beliefs, but in line with Wentzel’s findings, these researchers found that students who strive for belongingness with peers (i.e., who find it important to be liked by their peers and to feel welcome in the group) perceive collaborative work differently compared to students who do not attach such value to belongingness goals. More concretely, the former students reported lower perceived quality of group work, lower group cohesion, and lower cooperation skills than the latter students. This finding seems paradoxical at first sight because teachers, parents, and students alike believe that belongingness goals are social goals that promote group learning. However, Boekaerts (2009) suggested that belongingness goals reflect a prevention focus rather than a promotion focus. Students who strive for belongingness with peers are concerned that they might lose their peers’ sympathy and approval. They continuously monitor the environment for cues of loss of peer attraction. Picking up such signals – however subtle – triggers negative affect and actions to prevent loss of resources. Partial support for this hypothesis comes from interviews with vocational school students who admitted that they would agree to engage in activities that the teacher did not approve of if they noticed that their peers chided their risk-free behavior. These and similar findings show that students have multiple reasons for task (dis)engagement and that goals are rarely pursued in isolation. The pursuit of a goal always occurs in the context of pursuing other goals (Shah, 2003). This implies that students coordinate their multiple goals in such a way that they protect their most salient goals. Unfortunately, the curricular goals are not always the most prominent goals in a student’s goal hierarchy. More often than not, students need to use volitional strategies to initiate learning tasks and to protect the learning goal from more attractive goal alternatives. Therefore, goal coordination should be studied as an important aspect of self-regulation. Before discussing the literature that addressed goal coordination, however, it is necessary to address an increasing number of studies that provide evidence for automatic goal pursuit. Indeed, thus far I have referred to researchers who conceptualized goal pursuit as a conscious, goal-directed process. Yet, recent findings in neuroscience prompt us to reconsider the notion that conscious involvement is always required to initiate goal-directed behavior and to protect learning from competing action tendencies. These studies urged psychologists to further explore the differences between intentionally constructed goals and knowledge structures that can be discharged automatically, when people attend to specific perceptual categories.

Motivation and Self-regulation: Two Close Friends


RECENT ADVANCES IN NEUROSCIENCE EMPHASIZE THE ROLE OF NON-CONSCIOUS PROCESSING IN GOAL PURSUIT Everyday learning and teaching informs us that we have limited access to the decision-making processes that occur during learning. On the basis of extensive research, Bargh and Chartrand (1999) concluded that many of our goals may be unconsciously activated or primed. Stored mental representations guide perception, judgment, performance, and interpersonal behavior unconsciously. This implies that we are neither aware of the actual source of the energy that fuels our behavior nor able to report on the purpose of our actions.

Priming Triggers Automatic Processing Priming is a technique where a specific stimulus is presented subliminally in order to trigger automatic processing. It is assumed that the stimulus activates the mental representation of a specific content goal and that this automatically produces the associated action programs and scripts. Central to automatic goal pursuit is the assumption made by Bargh and Chartrand (1999) that goals are mentally represented in easily accessible knowledge structures that include the content of the goal, the action programs that service the goal, as well as the context in which these action programs usually occur. For example, it has been shown that subliminally presented pictures of a library prime whispering behavior and studious contemplation (Chartrand & Bargh, 1996). Bargh and Barndollar (1996) reported that achievement and social goals can be primed easily; subliminally presented performance words, such as ‘‘strive’’ and ‘‘succeed,’’ primed achievement goals and led to better performance on a word search task, while words that were semantically related to affiliation goals – such as ‘‘sociable’’ – primed affiliation goals. Bargh and colleagues were also able to show that the type of content goal that is primed affects the quality of students’ collaborative behavior. When an achievement goal was primed, participants showed an increased tendency to strive for the highest score, irrespective of their team members’ performance. By contrast, when a social goal was primed, students were less inclined to humiliate a poor teammate by far exceeding his or her performance.



Wegner and Bargh (1998) equally showed that much of our social behavior is unconsciously triggered. For example, people respond automatically and without awareness to facial expressions, gestures, ethnicity, gender, and cues about a person’s cooperation, warmth, and aggression. Shah (2003) clarified that our mental construal of self incorporates the goals, values, interests, and expectation that significant others (e.g., parents, teachers, peers, and siblings) may hold for us. He predicted and found that stored mental representations of significant others spontaneously activate the goals, values, and expectations that these people hold for us. This priming may be moderated by how close the individual is to us. It seems that the mere activation of these representations may color our sense-making process and act as an ‘‘inner audience’’ when we are setting goals and striving for them.

How does Automatic Goal Pursuit Emerge? Aarts and Dijksterhuis (2000) suggested that habits have been formed as a result of repeated pairing in the past. They view habits as strong mental links between the cognitive representation that a person has made of a situation and the action programs and scripts that he or she traditionally executes in that situation. Through repetition, the association between the situation and the required action programs has become so strong that the actions are automatically evoked whenever the person enters the relevant situation. Bargh and Chartrand (1999) added that automatic processing develops in stable situational contexts, where action programs and scripts have led consistently to desirable outcomes. A full switch from conscious, intentional processing to automatic, habitual processing occurs only if the person’s action programs have been repeatedly used and still lead to satisfactory outcomes, and provided no major obstacles hinder task pursuit. Under these conditions, non-consciously triggered goals yield the same behavior as explicit task instructions. For example, Bargh, Gollwitzer, Lee Chai, Barndollar, and Tro¨tschel (2001) reported that priming cooperation goals and explicit instructions to cooperate had independent effects on students’ cooperative behavior. Custers and Aarts (2005) confirmed that goals, which had been infused with positive affect, automatically evoked increased effort directed at attaining that goal. In their studies, students in the experimental group worked harder on puzzle tasks than students in the control group, when the goal (engaging in puzzle tasks) had been previously linked (subliminally) to positive affect. The association with positive affect seems to act as a signal that the goal is desirable and worth investing effort in.

Motivation and Self-regulation: Two Close Friends


These findings are in line with Kuhl’s (2000) conclusion that individuals, who are confronted with new situations, find within milliseconds a script that is in accordance with a variety of self-aspects. In contrast to traditional views in personality and social psychology, which describe the self in terms of the explicit beliefs the individual holds about the self, Kuhl postulated a highly sophisticated, non-conscious system that integrates an extended network of past representations involving the self, including personal preferences, needs, psychosomatic feelings, and non-conscious options for action. The results reported in this section clearly show that goals can be triggered outside of awareness and then run autonomously to attain desired outcomes. This implies that conscious attention is not required to initiate goal-directed behavior and neither is an act of will. These findings raise the question as to whether goals that are primed by environmental cues compete for resources with goals that are intentionally pursued. Not much is known about this issue. I will address what is known next.

GOAL COORDINATION: FINDINGS FROM DIFFERENT CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORKS The literature on competing goals describes what happens when students are aware that an alternative goal is competing for their resources but is relatively silent about the effect that (interpersonal) priming may have on conscious goal pursuit. Yet, in both cases, students may need to exercise volitional control, inhibiting action programs and scripts that pull their energy away from the focal (learning) task. In what follows, I will argue that a focal goal may interact with both consciously and unconsciously triggered goals in the classroom, and I will raise the question whether the pursuit of unconsciously triggered goals is always detrimental for learning. I will also examine how students might prioritize and re-prioritize their goals. Goals Compete for Resources In modern classrooms, not only do students strive for achievement goals, but they also want to attain many other goals. In accordance with Sheldon and Elliot (1998), I argued elsewhere (Boekaerts, 2009) that motivational self-regulation critically depends on having access to a well-integrated goal hierarchy so that consistent choices can be made among salient goals. Boekaerts (2009) described adolescents’ goal hierarchies, showing that ego



goals (material gain goals, individuality, and superiority goals) are clearly separate in the goal hierarchy from all other goals. Within the cluster of non-ego goals, adolescents differentiate between social goals (equity, social support, belongingness, and social responsibility goals), task goals (mastery and management goals), and well-being goals (safety goals, positive self-evaluation, entertainment, and tranquility goals). Interestingly, task goals include both mastery and management goals, implying that many action programs and scripts might serve both these goals. Little research is currently available on the action programs and scripts that serve different goal clusters and on the way students prioritize their different goals. In a recent study conducted at Leiden University with adolescents in vocational schools (Smit, Boekaerts, & Busing, 2009), multidimensional unfolding techniques were used to analyze the importance that these students assign to the 16 goals described previously. It was confirmed that adolescents assign least importance to ego goals and that they rank positive self-evaluation goals (e.g., I want to feel self-confident) and equity goals (e.g., I want to live in harmony with my parents) as the most salient goals in their goal hierarchy. Social responsibility goals, tranquility goals, and wanting to be happy and have fun come next in their order of priorities. Regretfully, mastery goals did not have a high priority in the list of adolescents’ goals.

Goal Concordance Elliot and Sheldon (1998) argued that persons who are aware of their goal preferences and know how their goal system functions are in a better position to self-regulate their motivation and effort. These investigators reported that the attainment of self-concordant goals (i.e., goals consistent with the students’ own needs, values, and interests) produced greater well-being benefits than did attainment of goals enforced by someone else. Elliot and Sheldon also showed that initial goal commitment in relation to selfconcordant goals was sustained during goal pursuit and positively affected goal accomplishment, whereas goal commitment based on external encouragements or social pressure (i.e., controlled motivation) was not sustained two to four weeks later and did not affect goal attainment measured at the end of the learning period. Findings from self-determination theory support these conclusions (see, e.g., Ryan & Deci, 2000 for similar results). Hijzen et al. (2006) examined the relation between vocational students’ goal preferences and student task engagement during collaborative work.

Motivation and Self-regulation: Two Close Friends


They found that mastery goals and social responsibility goals were instrumental to task-relevant engagement. Belongingness goals and tranquility goals negatively affected task engagement. These researchers also examined which goals are salient in students working in effective and ineffective collaborating teams. These teams were identified on the basis of their on-task and off-task behavior, as well as on their socially oriented behavior. Semi-structured team interviews and stimulated recall sessions revealed some interesting differences between the groups. Although both students in the effective and ineffective teams reported that certification goals were the most salient goals in their school life, the former group combined these goals with mastery, social responsibility, and social support goals, whereas the latter group made a combination with happiness/entertainment goals and work avoidance goals. Furthermore, students in the effective teams explained their task engagement in terms of their salient goals while the students in the ineffective teams did not. For example, one student said, ‘‘I was trying to find out why I made that stupid error, because I wanted to know how this program works’’ (mastery goal). Another student said, ‘‘I was explaining to Carrie why she got it wrong, because I like to help people’’ (social support goal). Students in the ineffective teams did not mention their goals as reasons for their engagement. They pointed to unfavorable aspects of the learning environment to account for their low task engagement (e.g., the teacher was never there when we needed help, and we did not have access to relevant material). These remarks contrasted sharply with the verbal report of the effective team members, who mainly pointed to favorable aspects of the learning environment (e.g., everybody did their fair share of the work and helped each other). These results suggest that students in the effective teams mainly experienced goal concordance. They seemed to have more than one reason to engage in collaborative learning tasks. They engaged in learning because that is what you are supposed to do in school in order to get your certificate (certification goals), but they also wanted to gain more knowledge and skills in relation to the school subjects that we researched (mastery goals). They wanted to work as a team because they enjoyed acquiring and providing social support. Boekaerts and Hijzen (2007) suggested that these students had conceptualized learning in collaborative learning settings as opportunities to satisfy their mastery, social responsibility, and social support goals (immediate incentives) in the service of their certification goal (distal goal). Although certification goals were equally salient in the goal hierarchy of the students in the ineffective teams, they seemed to have a more isolated position



in their goal hierarchy. I suggest that these students experienced difficulty linking action programs and scripts that are necessary to reach the distal certification goals to their salient proximal goals, namely to happiness/ entertainment goals and work avoidance goals. These students had linked action programs and scripts such as ‘‘I want to have fun in class,’’ ‘‘I want to chat with my peers,’’ and ‘‘I want to send and receive SMS messages in class’’ to their happiness/entertainment goal and ‘‘I do not want to revise a text once I finished writing it’’ and ‘‘I do not want to spend time checking my spelling mistakes’’ to their work avoidance goal. These immediate, concrete wishes reflect these students’ own needs, values, and interests and are inconsistent with their distal certification goals. Based on Sheldon and Elliot’s (1998) findings, I would expect that pursuit of certification goals produces greater well-being benefits in the students who belong to the effective teams than the students in the ineffective teams. Similarly, I would also predict that the former students would find it much easier to sustain their initial goal commitment than the latter students, who might have to rely more on external encouragements and social pressure to sustain their engagement.

Environmentally Primed Goal Pursuit The fact that the students in the ineffective teams mainly explained their offtask behavior in terms of unfavorable environmental conditions – rather than in terms of rivaling personal goals – suggests that cues present in the collaborative learning environment primed their off-task behavior. For example, their complaint that the teacher was never there when they needed her may have initiated chatting and fooling around (i.e., their happiness/ entertainment goals gained precedence over their learning goal). Similarly, perception of unfavorable learning conditions could have strengthened their resolve not to invest time in checking their spelling mistakes (work avoidance goal). In line with Aarts and Dijksterhuis’ (2000) theorizing, I suggest that these students had established multiple links between unfavorable cues present in the collaborative learning settings and action programs and scripts linked to their happiness/entertainment and work avoidance goals. This would imply that this behavior is primed by situational cues. These students did not even make an effort to inhibit behavior that the teacher deemed inappropriate (chatting and SMSing in class); they just did it. We might raise the question whether environmentally primed goal pursuit is always detrimental for learning. Hofer (2007) argued that – in the

Motivation and Self-regulation: Two Close Friends


classroom – most activities that are not directed at learning are viewed by the teacher as off-task behavior. He reasoned that at the start of an instruction period, most students display on-task behavior, paying some attention to the teacher’s instruction and the tasks at hand. In other words, at that time they have identified the teacher’s goal as the focal goal, meaning that they have the intention to devote their attention to the learning task and put all other goals temporarily on hold. However, during the lesson, they seem to lose concentration or interest and engage in alternative actions, either temporarily or permanently. Hofer explained that this switch from on-task to off-task behavior (e.g., chatting, fooling around, quarrelling, harassing, criticizing, ridiculing, and being aggressive) refers to a motivational conflict; rivaling goals have gained dominance in the goal system and have taken over. Hofer views such off-task behavior as unfavorable for learning, mainly because the pursuit of alternative goals consumes attentional resources that are taken away from the learning goals. I agree with Hofer that students engage in off-task behavior in the classroom because they mostly find interpersonal goals more attractive than the learning goals. Drawing on the literature on priming reviewed previously, I would like to add that this behavior is often primed by cues in the learning environment. I am not so sure though that the pursuit of non-learning goals is always unfavorable for learning. Granted as Hofer explained, some students may be inclined to invest minimal effort, resorting to superficial learning when they experience a motivation conflict. There are, however, also situations where students might actually benefit from having some pleasant time out. In this respect I would like to refer to the spillover effect reported by Greenhaus and Powell (2006).

Spillover Energy from One Context to Another Some teachers, parents, and educators seem to think that the most direct threat to an achievement goal is – apart from not having the necessary resources – competing goal pursuit. For example, in Eduard’s case, his parents feared that his involvement in and commitment to his athletics goals occurred at the expense of learning and achievement. This assumption is based on an overload/conflict model. Such a model predicts that any degree of commitment to one goal will automatically detract from commitment to other current goals and will minimize one’s chances of goal realization. In other words, it is assumed that the pool of personal resources (attention, time, and effort) is limited and fixed and that using one’s resources to attain



one goal implies automatically that fewer resources are available for other goals. Marks (1977) labeled this phenomenon the scarcity theory on human energy. Recently, the assumptions underlying this theory were challenged. Greenhaus and Powell (2006) argued that individuals can profit from the simultaneous pursuit of multiple goals, because different goals can positively affect each other. These researchers described how engagement in one activity can buffer effects of negative emotions in a different activity. More specifically, social goals pursued in a family context can bring a person in a feel-good state that may spill over to performance goals pursued in a work context, and vice versa. Their research demonstrated that the mere presence of alternative goals does not draw resources away from the current focal goal, thus undermining goal pursuit. It seems that competing goals may strengthen the person’s goal focus and intensify engagement rather than impede it, provided that they have the self-regulation strategies to switch back from the well-being track to the mastery track. Eduard’s example can be explained in this way: pursuit of his athletics performance goals brought Eduard in a feel-good state that seemed to spill over to the school context. Rather than drawing resources away from his academic learning and performance goals, pursuit of his athletic goals generated positive affect, which spilled over to his schoolwork. It is slowly becoming evident that affect associated with goal progress affects goal pursuit and goal coordination. Emotions Help to Reprioritize One’s Goals Following Carver and Scheier’s (2000) and Louro et al.’s (2007) findings discussed previously, one would expect that students who are close to goal attainment and experience positive affect slow down. Why do they slow down? Would it not be logical to scale up under conditions of apparent success? This would indeed be a logical conclusion to draw if we are talking about pursuit of a single goal, particularly an achievement goal. However, looking at goal pursuit from the perspective of the complete goal hierarchy, with its many competing goals, we should arrive at a different conclusion. Carver (2003) argued that, under certain conditions, a goal that is currently focal loses its place in the priority ranking. He suggested that positive affect may be a signal that one can temporarily put the current goal aside, assigning it a lower priority, and attend to other goals. It is important to note that positive affect does not require a change in direction: ‘‘It simply sets the stage for such a change to be more likely’’ (Carver, 2003, p. 251). Carver supplied evidence that positive affect promotes shifting to areas in

Motivation and Self-regulation: Two Close Friends


need of repair. He referred to studies by Trope and Neter (1994) who induced positive affect in students before they took a test. Students were told that they had done well on two aspects of the test and poorly on the third one. Students who were in a positive mood showed more interest in reading about their performance on the part of the test they had failed than did controls. This finding suggests that positive affect (even unrelated to the task) may render individuals more open to review and to fixing problems. Carver (2003) reviewed the literature and concluded that when the current situation is in reasonably good shape in the focal domain (e.g., after a success experience, self-affirmation, teacher approval, or recall of good times), people are more likely to take on problems in another domain. This conclusion is in line with numerous findings illustrating that positive affect makes positive information stored in memory more accessible (Isen, 2001) so that people can be more creative, make faster decisions, are more willing to elaborate, and perceive more opportunities. It is also in accordance with the spillover effect discussed previously, and it puts students’ off-task behavior in a different perspective. I would suggest that students who make social goals focal in a classroom context derive positive feelings from giving and receiving social support. This feeling-good state is then automatically channeled into the task. Ja¨rvela¨ and Ja¨rvenoja (in press) showed, however, that not all students are capable of switching back to the learning task after a pleasant break. They need the teacher or a group member who helps them to re-focus on the learning task. In other words, these students lack the volitional strategies to switch back to the mastery pathway. Returning to Eduard’s example, after his injury, Eduard was low on energy because he could not fix his problem. He had stopped going to his sports club and also pursued work avoidance goals in relation to his schoolwork. What broke the vicious circle? Eduard’s coach reminded him of the good times he had at the club, thus re-activating his old values, goals, and aspirations. He also advised Eduard to return to the club and suggested a concrete action program to revalidate at the club. This meant that Eduard returned to an environment where investing effort, making progress, sharing emotions about one’s progress or regress, and getting feedback about it from friends are the ‘‘raison d’eˆtre.’’ Hence, pursuit of his athletic goals, and the positive affect that these goals generate, had a strong directing and motivating effect on his life: it worked like an energy generator. Environmental cues, similar to the ones that used to replenish his batteries in the past, may have primed his sense-making process again, giving him enough energy to revalidate and to resume his schoolwork.



Affect, Strategy Use, and Depletion of Resources? In order to accomplish long-term goals, such as knowledge acquisition and skill development, but also athletic performance and revalidation of sport injuries, individuals must be able to forego the pleasures of many short-term needs and temptations. For example, they need to set aside direct, urgent demands to feel good in favor of long-term benefits. This causes response conflicts between doing what is expected and recommended and will lead to positive outcomes in the long run and satisfying immediate needs in order to feel good right away. In order to resolve such recurring conflicts, students need to draw on their self-regulation strategies. Several researchers have described delay of gratification as a specific type of volitional control. Bembenutty and Karabenick (2004) view the capacity to delay academic gratification as an important self-regulation strategy. They argued that students need to be able to forego an immediately available and gratifying option, such as enjoying a favorite football game the night before an exam, in order to increase the likelihood of accomplishing goals that are temporally remote and presumably more important goal. These researchers reported that college students who were high on academic delay of gratification also reported more frequent use of cognitive strategies, such as elaboration, organization, and rehearsal, as well as resource management strategies (e.g., regulation of time and effort, environmental control, help-seeking, and peer learning). Hence, it seems that the use of volitional strategies coincides with the use of cognitive regulation strategies. However, Baumeister, Zell, and Tice (2007) reported that engaging in acts of self-control (i.e., using volitional strategies and emotion regulation) may deplete people’s resources.

Willpower Costs Energy that Needs to be Restored Willpower to resist temptation or to control emotional reactions takes effort and draws resources away from the focal task. Baumeister (2005) showed that students, who had to focus on their emotions after viewing an upsetting video and make an attempt to control them, tended to give up faster on successive tasks than those who were not requested to control their emotions. In another experiment, Baumeister (2005) found that students who had to fight temptation tended to give up faster when solving a difficult puzzle, compared to the students who had not been tempted with chocolates or those who had been allowed to eat them. Hence, the effort needed to

Motivation and Self-regulation: Two Close Friends


resist temptation and the effort needed to reduce negative affect seemed to interact with the effort needed to persist on the task. These researchers concluded that self-control interferes with task engagement and persistence, unless the spent energy is restored. In a similar vein, Graham, Hudley, and Williams (1992) pointed out that students may or may not have the inner strength to actually tolerate the negative emotions associated with regression and adversity while they are trying to make a mental representation of a problematic situation and design a plan of action. They reported that students, who had adopted a performance goal orientation, were not prepared to tolerate negative affect associated with difficult tasks. They were not prepared to pay the mental cost and neither did they want to pay the social cost, such as embarrassment, admitting adversity, and asking for help (see also Butler, 1992). Baumeister et al. (2007) suggested that negative emotions associated with the task shift people’s priority, forcing them to focus on immediate urgent needs, namely to escape the aversive emotional state, thus turning away from long-term goals that require self-regulation.

Borrowing Resources It is important to note that students may feel insecure and even unprotected in many learning situations and do not know how to change that situation. Caring socializing agents, such as parents, siblings, and teachers, are able to create a (learning) environment that fulfils children’s and adolescents’ sense of security and protection. Such an environment can protect students from potential adversity and embarrassment. For example, teachers may take away the strain of evaluation by allowing students to work together on difficult tasks, by focusing on their strengths rather than displaying their weaknesses, and by creating a supportive learning environment for students who do not feel confident to do the assignment by themselves (Brown, 1994). Emphasizing that one can borrow resources when needed may help students to shift from a prevention focus to a promotion focus. Peers may also protect students from potential adversity and embarrassment by providing information, help, advice, and emotional support when needed. The extensive literature on help seeking illustrates that help seeking, or soliciting social support, is a self-regulatory strategy that can be used in adaptive and non-adaptive ways. Karabenick and Newman (2009) reviewed the literature on help seeking and described adaptive and less adaptive forms. Examples of non-adaptive help seeking are seeking excessive help (too much



and too soon), soliciting no help when it is needed and available, and seeking help to avoid investing effort (i.e., expecting that others do the work, rather than because one wants to expand one’s knowledge and skills). Non-adaptive ways of soliciting social support often reflect a prevention focus that needs to be addressed before students will switch to more adaptive ways to seek help. Recharging One’s Resources Although there is presently no empirical evidence documenting how students deplete and replenish their resources in the classroom and about what they can and cannot achieve in certain contexts, I would like to speculate that students have learned that their resources are quickly depleted in some contexts and can easily be replenished in other contexts. I suggest that most students have access to conditional knowledge – albeit implicitly – about how they can recharge their resources. For example, a student told me that she did not want to work with Eve on a math problem because Eve always drew attention to minor issues, which irritated her because they detract too much from the main problem at hand. By contrast, she loved to work in a group with Kathy, not only because she was fun to be with, but also because she had the skill to re-focus her group members’ attention on the problem after a good laugh. What this last example shows is that this student is aware that she gets her energy from social talk that runs parallel to the pursuit of the learning goal (i.e., from so-called off-task behavior that creates a feel-good state that spills over to the learning goal). At the same time, this student is concerned that she does not have access to adequate volitional strategies to switch back to the focal goal herself and is therefore in need of social support. Tice and Bratslavsky (2000) found that there are multiple ways of recharging the system and that positive affect is key to increase self-control after depletion. For example, a positive mood manipulation gave depleted people as much volitional control as non-depleted people. Obviously, more studies are needed in this important area of research.

DIRECTIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH ON MOTIVATION AND SELF-REGULATION In this chapter, I defended the view that self-regulation is a system that is organized for moving toward desirable outcomes and away from

Motivation and Self-regulation: Two Close Friends


undesirable outcomes. I made reference to Carver and Scheier’s (2000) principles of homeostasis and heterostasis, emphasizing that the standards that are attached to students’ multiple goals act as reference values for monitoring against progress and regress, one of the most essential selfregulation strategies. I argued further that students use different reference values in their discrepancy-reducing and discrepancy-enhancing feedback loops. This implies that the quantity and quality of the resources that they have access to and actually use to self-regulate their actions in the classroom diverge, reflected in their (dis)engagement patterns in different settings. Data from a variety of sources fit this picture.

Describing Discrepancy-reducing and Discrepancy-enhancing Feedback Loops Further research should describe the multitude of desirable equilibria that students of various age groups strive to maintain in the context of the classroom. Researchers should give an in-depth account of the standards that they typically use to reduce and enhance discrepancies between their actual self on the one hand and the ideal and ought self on the other. This would help motivation researchers to document how the different feedback loops are interconnected with students’ (dis)engagement patterns in the classroom. It would also put them in a position to inform students and teachers on how they use their own goal system to move forward in the classroom. Both students and teachers would benefit from gaining insight into the nature of the different standards that they use to monitor their progress and regress. This knowledge is an inherent part of the conditional knowledge that they draw on to steer and direct their behavior in the classroom. Most examples given in this chapter focus on the student but the different theories and models that I described are also applicable to teacher behavior. Like students, teachers try to maintain a balance between two main goal priorities: they want to promote growth and development to keep their self-regulation system flexible but they also want to keep their wellbeing within reasonable bounds (i.e., keep the self-regulation system stable). In line with what I said about students, teachers’ self-regulatory strategies may or may not be adequate to respond flexibly to a diverse range of classroom situations. They also need to fine-tune and regularly update their conditional knowledge about how their cognitive, motivation, emotion, and interpersonal subsystems work and function together during the teaching– learning process.



Teachers who lack conditional knowledge may persist with specific teaching strategies that are less effective to promote mastery in their students. Perception of failing students may trigger negative emotions and embed the teaching strategies in a negative network of association that undermines adaptive functioning in the future. More research is needed to determine what type of conditional knowledge is a prerequisite for teachers to select effective cognitive and motivation self-regulation strategies and for bringing these strategies on automatic control. In-depth account of the standards that teachers typically use to reduce and enhance discrepancies between their actual self-representation on the one hand and their ideal and ought self on the other would help motivation researchers to document how the dominant feedback loops that teachers have established are interconnected with their (dis)engagement patterns in the classroom.

Studying Interactions among Goals, Emotions, and Self-regulation At present, we are not yet in a position to explain why some learning environments energize some students and deplete the resources of others. There are many theories that describe the myriad of phenomena that make up student motivation in the classroom. These theories are mostly complementary, but they sometimes also contradict each other. In order for researchers, teachers, policy makers, and students to understand how the cognitive and motivation systems work together, we need an integrative theory of self-regulation that puts together the multiple fragmentary theories (mini-theories) of cognition, metacognition, motivation, and emotion in relation to school learning. Such an integrative theory of self-regulation should be constructed from the perspective of the individual-in-social context. This implies that theorizing about students’ use of self-regulation strategies should incorporate the multiple resources that they have access to and the obstacles that they find on their way to reach their multiple goals. We must proceed from a proper theoretical understanding of exactly what students are trying to accomplish in school in light of their personal goals and their participation in the peer group, embedded in the school as an institution. I agree with Phelan, Yu, and Davidson (1994) that the most fundamental goals for children and adolescents in a school context are to integrate and survive in the peer group and in the school as an organization. Yet, integration and survival may mean different things to different students at different points in their school career. At any point in time, integration and

Motivation and Self-regulation: Two Close Friends


survival relates to a multitude of personal goals. For some students, achievement goals may always dominate their goal-directed behavior in the classroom and all other goals may be secondary considerations. For these students interest in learning is the main incentive to move forward and threat of academic failure (or actual failure) may be the main repeller to set in motion actions to avoid failure (Phelan et al., 1994). For other students, belongingness with peers and wanting to be happy and fulfilled may dominate their school life, and threat of isolation and boredom may set in motion discrepancy-reducing and discrepancy-enhancing feedback loops. Paradoxically, activities that have been labeled off-task behavior may supply these students with the necessary resources to continue their learning pursuit. On the basis of the reviewed literature, I reasoned that personal goals and the environmental cues that trigger them act as internal and external forces that push and pull students to behave in certain ways. It is important to realize that these resources are not fixed. Rather, they depend to a large extent on the nature of the students’ salient current goals and the positive emotions they experience in reaching these goals. Future research should investigate what types of resources students of different age groups have access to and the conditional knowledge they should have in order to make optimal use of their resources. We also need to gain more insight into the various ways that students try to coordinate their multiple goals, putting some on hold and making others focal. The work on multiple goals that we have conducted at Leiden University is a modest beginning. There are many questions that await scientific research. These include: what is the nature of the mental representations that students form in the goal-setting stage? What type of situational cues do they use to determine the obstacles that they will meet en route to the goal? What type of implementation plans do they make? How do they sustain goal commitment? When do they experience goal concordance? What types of strategies do students of different age groups use to counteract adversity? How do they prioritize and re-prioritize their multiple goals? What is the role of affect?

Incorporating the Findings from Unconscious Goal Pursuit into Our Theories of Motivation and Self-regulation I am hardly the first to emphasize that in the past, psychologists and educationalists assumed that most of students’ and teachers’ actions in the classroom are guided by deliberate, conscious goal processes and that the



extent to which incentives (energizers) are present in the learning environment make that environment more powerful for learning. Nowadays, researchers realize that a learning environment is never optimal for all students, meaning that some students may feel invigorated and others inhibited in a specific learning environment. Recent evidence from cognitive psychology and neuroscience shows that multiple cues in the learning environment trigger unconscious goal pursuit, priming performance, and social goals. Although data from cognitive psychology and ongoing work in neuroscience are only suggestive for what may happen in actual classrooms and there remains a great deal to be explored, I believe that promising new insights have emanated from these studies, such as Custers and Aarts’s (2005) finding that infusion of positive affect will ensure that goals are defined as desirable outcomes and that effort will automatically be directed at the pursuit of these goals. There are so many interesting questions that await further investigation in the classroom, and I hope that many readers of this volume will be ready to explore these uncharted waters.

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Bembenutty, H., & Karabenick, S. A. (2004). Inherent association between academic delay of gratification, future time perspective, and self-regulated learning. Educational Psychology Review, 16, 35–57. Boekaerts, M. (1997). Self-regulated learning: A new concept embraced by researchers, policy makers, educators, teachers, and students. Learning and Instruction, 7(2), 161–186. Boekaerts, M. (2006). Self-regulation and effort investment. In: E. Sigel & K. A. Renninger (Vol. Eds), Handbook of child psychology, vol. 4, child psychology in practice (pp. 345–377). New York: Wiley. Boekaerts, M. (2009). Goal-directed behavior in the classroom. In: K. R. Wentzel & A. Wigfield (Eds), Handbook of motivation at school. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Boekaerts, M. (in press). Emotions, emotion regulation, and self-regulation of learning. In: B. Zimmerman & D. Schunk (Eds), Handbook of self-regulation of learning and performance. London: Routeledge. Boekaerts, M., & Corno, L. (2005). Self-regulation in the classroom: A perspective on assessment and intervention. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 54, 199–231. Boekaerts, M., De Koning, E., & Vedder, P. (2006). Goal directed behavior and contextual factors in the classroom: An innovative approach to the study of multiple goals. Educational Psychologist, 41, 33–51. Boekaerts, M., & Hijzen, D. (2007). Understanding the effect of culture on the pursuit of multiple goals, perception of learning conditions, and the quality of cooperative learning. In: F. Salili (Ed.), Culture, motivation and learning: A multicultural, perspective (pp. 115–130). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing. Boekaerts, M., Maes, S., & Karoly, P. (2005). Self-regulation across domains of applied psychology: Is there an emerging consensus? Applied Psychology: An International Review, 54(2), 149–154. Brown, A. L. (1987). Metacognition, executive control, self-regulation, and other more mysterious mechanisms. In: F. E. Weinert & R. H. Kluwe (Eds), Metacognition, motivation, and understanding (pp. 65–116). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Brown, A. L. (1994). The advancement of learning. Educational Researcher, 23(8), 4–12. Butler, D. L., & Winne, P. H. (1995). Feedback and self-regulated learning: A theoretical synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 65, 245–281. Butler, R. (1992). What young people want to know when: Effects of mastery and ability goals on interest in different kinds of social comparison. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 934–943. Carver, C. S. (2003). Pleasure as a sign you can attend to something else: Placing positive feelings within a general model of affect. Cognition and Emotion, 17, 241–261. Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. (2000). On the structure of behavioral self-regulation. In: M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich & M. Zeidner (Eds), Handbook of self-regulation. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. E. (1998). On the self-regulation of behavior. New York: Cambridge University Press. Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1981). Attention and self-regulation: A control-theory approach to human behavior. New York: Springer-Verlag. Chartrand, T. L., & Bargh, J. A. (1996). Automatic activation of impression formation and memorization goals: Nonconscious goal priming reproduces effects of explicit task instructions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 71, 464–478.



Custers, R., & Aarts, H. (2005). Positive affect as implicit motivator: On the nonconscious operation of behavioral goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 89, 129–142. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The what and why of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227–268. Dowson, M., & McInerney, M. (2001). Psychological parameters of students’ social and work avoidance goals: A qualitative investigation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 35–42. Efklides, A., & Petkaki, C. (2005). Effects of mood on students’ metacognitive experiences. Learning and Instruction, 15, 415–431. Elliot, A. J., & Sheldon, K. M. (1998). Avoidance personal goals and the personality–illness relationship. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 1282–1299. Emmons, R. A. (1997). Motives and life goals. In: S. Briggs, R. Hogan & J. A. Johnson (Eds), Handbook of personality psychology (pp. 485–512). San Diego, CA: Academic Press. Ford, M. E. (1992). Motivating humans: Goals, emotions, and personal agency. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Fredrickson, B. L., & Losada, M. F. (2005). Positive affect and the complex dynamics of human flourishing. American Psychologist, 60(7), 678–686. Frijda, N. H. (1986). The emotions. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Garland, H. (1985). A cognitive mediation theory of task goals and human performance. Motivation and Emotion, 9, 345–367. Gollwitzer, P. M. (1999). Implementation intentions: Strong effects of simple plans. American Psychologist, 54, 493–503. Graham, S., Hudley, C., & Williams, E. (1992). Attributional and emotional determinants of aggression among African-American and Latino young adolescents. Developmental Psychology, 28, 731–740. Greenhaus, J. H., & Powell, G. N. (2006). When work and family are allies: A theory of work– family enrichment. Academy of Management Review, 31, 72–92. Hadwin, A. F., & Oshige, M. (in press). Self-regulation, co-regulation, and socially shared regulation: Examining the many faces of social in models of SRL. Teachers College Record. Heckhausen, J., & Farruggia, S. P. (2003). Developmental regulation across the life span: A control-theory approach and implications for secondary education. British Journal of Educational Psychology, Monograph Series, II(2), 85–102. Higgins, E. T. (1997). Beyond pleasure and pain. American Psychologist, 52, 1280–1300. Higgins, E. T., Shah, J., & Friedman, R. (1997). Emotional responses to goal attainment: Strength of regulatory focus as moderator. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 515–525. Hijzen, D., Boekaerts, M., & Vedder, P. (2006). The relationship between the quality of cooperative learning, students’ goal preferences, and perceptions of contextual factors in the classroom. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 47(1), 9–21. Hofer, M. (2007). Goal conflicts and self-regulation: A new look at pupils’ off-task behaviour in the classroom. Educational Research Review, 2, 28–38. Isen, A. M. (2001). An influence of positive affect on decision making in complex situations: Theoretical issues with practical implications. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 11(2), 75–85. Ja¨rvela¨, S., & Ja¨rvenoja¨, H. (in press). Socially constructed self-regulated learning and motivation regulation in collaborative learning groups. Teachers College Record.

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Karabenick, S. A., & Newman, R. S. (2009). Help seeking as a behavioral strategic learning strategy. In: E. Anderman & L. Anderman (Eds), Psychology of classroom learning: An encyclopedia. Farmington Hills, MI: Thompson Gale. Klinger, E. (1975). Consequences of commitment to and disengagement from incentives. Psychological Review, 82, 1–25. Kruglanski, A. W., Shah, J. Y., Fishbach, A., Friedman, R., Chun, W. Y., & Sleeth-Keppler, D. (2002). A theory of goal systems. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 32, 331–378. Kuhl, J. (2000). A functional-design approach to motivation and volition: The dynamics of personality systems interactions. In: M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich & M. Zeidner (Eds), Self-regulation: Directions and challenges for future research (pp. 111–169). New York: Academic Press. Little, B. R. (1989). Personal projects analysis: Trivial pursuits, magnificent obsessions, and the search for coherence. In: D. Buss & N. Cantor (Eds), Personality psychology: Recent trends and emerging directions (pp. 15–31). New York: Springer-Verlag. Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (1990). A theory of goal setting and task performance. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Louro, M. J., Pieters, R., & Zeelenberg, M. (2007). Dynamics of multiple-goal pursuit: Attitudes and social cognition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 174–193. Marks, S. R. (1977). Multiple roles and role strain: Some notes on human energy, time and commitment. American Sociological Review, 42, 921–936. Markus, H., & Nurius, P. (1986). Possible selves. American Psychologist, 41(9), 954–969. Phelan, P., Yu, H. C., & Davidson, A. L. (1994). Navigating the psychological pressures of adolescence: The voices and experiences of high school youth. American Educational Research Journal, 31(2), 415–447. Pintrich, P. R. (2000). An achievement goal theory perspective on issues in motivation terminology, theory, and research. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 92–104. Punmongkol, P. (2009). The regulation of academic emotions. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Sydney. Randi, J., & Corno, L. (2000). Teacher innovations in self-regulated learning. In: M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich & M. Zeidner (Eds), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 651–685). San Diego, CA: Academic Press. Ryan, R. A., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55, 68–78. Schwartz, S. H. (1992). Universals in the content and structure of values: Theoretical advances and empirical tests in 20 countries. In: M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 25, pp. 1–65). San Diego, CA: Academic Press. Shah, J. (2003). Automatic for the people: How representations of significant others implicitly affect goal pursuit. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 661–681. Shah, J. Y., Kruglanski, A. W., & Friedman, R. (2002). A goal systems approach to selfregulation. In: M. Zanna, J. Olson & C. Seligman (Eds), The Ontario symposium on personality and social psychology (pp. 247–276). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. Sheldon, K. M., & Elliot, A. J. (1998). Not all personal goals are personal: Comparing autonomous and controlled reasons for goals and predictors of effort and attainment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 24(5), 546–557. Smit, K., Boekaerts, M., & Busing, F. (2009, August). Students’ goal preference in the classroom. In: Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the Junior Researchers (JURE), Amsterdam, the Netherlands.



Tice, D. M., & Bratslavsky, E. (2000). Giving in to feel good: The place of emotion regulation in the context of general self-control. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 149–159. Trope, Y., & Neter, E. (1994). Reconciling competing motives in self-evaluation: The role of selfcontrol in feedback seeking. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 646–657. Wegner, D. M., & Bargh, J. A. (1998). Control and automaticity in social life. In: D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske & G. Lindzey (Eds), Handbook of social psychology (4th ed., pp. 446–496). Boston: McGraw-Hill. Wentzel, K. R. (1989). Adolescent classroom goals, standards for performance, and academic achievement: An interactionist perspective. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 131–142. Wentzel, K. R. (1996). Social and academic motivation in middle school: Concurrent and longterm relations to academic effort. Journal of Early Adolescence, 16, 390–406. Winne, P. H. (1995). Inherent details in self-regulated learning. Educational Psychologist, 30, 173–187. Wolters, C. (2003). Regulation of motivation: Evaluating an underemphasized aspect of self-regulated learning. Educational Psychologist, 38, 189–205. Zimmerman, B. J. (2000). Attaining self-regulation: A social cognitive perspective. In: M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich & M. Zeidner (Eds), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 13–35). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: PUTTING MOTIVATION THEORY TO THE ‘‘CLASSROOM TEST’’ Julianne C. Turner As I look back on the last two decades of motivation research, I see impressive advances in theory, but little progress in using theory to make a difference in classrooms. Although we motivation researchers assume that our findings are applicable to teaching and learning, we have not done the hard work to find out how and if they can be made useful to support teachers and students in classrooms. Therefore, I believe the goal for the next decade should be to put those theories to the ‘‘classroom test.’’ We need to learn both how motivation theories work in the classroom and where they are underspecified or inaccurate (cf., Blumenfeld, 1992). Most of us assert that we want to improve students’ motivation to learn. If so, it must include working with teachers and students where they live – in the classroom. The classroom is where students develop (and change) their beliefs about learning. Furthermore, these beliefs are closely related to what teachers do and say, both in classroom instruction (Turner et al., 1998, 2002) and in their relationships with students (Patrick, 2004; Wentzel, 1997). Explaining or influencing student motivation, then, depends a great deal on teachers. Yet, we know very little about teachers’ beliefs regarding student motivation or the strategies they use to motivate their students. I suggest

The Decade Ahead: Applications and Contexts of Motivation and Achievement Advances in Motivation and Achievement, Volume 16B, 109–138 Copyright r 2010 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 0749-7423/doi:10.1108/S0749-7423(2010)000016B007




that this ‘‘new wave’’ of motivation research should focus on collaborating with teachers to understand and design practices to support motivation and learning. This will require us to (1) address differences in the beliefs of researchers and teachers and (2) critically evaluate how theory can be contextualized in classroom practices. In this chapter I will begin by discussing the gap between the assumptions of current motivation research and teachers’ beliefs and practices. I will provide three examples to demonstrate the complexity of applying theoryinspired prescriptions for classroom practice. I will then illustrate these complexities drawing from recent research in which I collaborated with middle-school teachers to translate motivation theory into instructional practices. I will propose a research agenda for the next decade, suggesting the kinds of knowledge that motivation researchers will have to develop if they are to work effectively in classrooms. Finally, I will speculate on some frameworks and methods that could enhance classroom research and improve its potential to make a difference in the lives and learning of students and their teachers.

WHAT DOES MOTIVATION RESEARCH HAVE TO SAY ABOUT CLASSROOMS? Translating motivational research to classroom instruction may be so difficult because the two enterprises of psychological research and teaching are inherently different in goals and assumptions. Whereas psychological theory is meant to be broad and generalizable, educational practice must attend to individual and situational differences. For instance, a great deal of research suggests that mastery goal structures are related to desirable beliefs and behaviors. However, knowing that this is so does not help teachers know how to foster mastery goals in their classrooms and whether or how practices might vary given differences among students, developmental levels, and content areas. As Patrick (2004) noted, the theoretical notion of mastery goal structure as it is currently conceptualized was not developed in classrooms and does not address how a mastery goal structure is either manifested or communicated to students. Although it makes theoretical sense to provide ‘‘appropriate challenge’’ to students, how a teacher adapts that principle to students with a range of abilities and attitudes, from challenge seekers to avoiders, is not obvious. Research can provide only a general theoretical heuristic for understanding tendencies and does not necessarily explain individuals’ behavior over time (Turner & Patrick, 2004).

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For motivational research to be meaningful and useful to educators, it needs to help them interpret student behavior as specific responses to specific sets of circumstances. Pajares (2007) expressed this well when he noted: Research findings y drawn from educational psychology broadly, and motivation theory and research in particular are bounded by a host of situated, cultural factors that must be attended to if the constructs themselves are to have any, as William James (1907/ 1975) termed it, practical, or cash, value. (p. 30)

Therefore, in its present form, theory may not appear useful to teachers because of its seeming lack of specificity. These issues apply to all current theories of motivation. Moreover, most motivation theory has been developed in research with individuals one at a time or by aggregating individual responses in survey research. However, teachers work with groups of individuals. A class is more than a collection of individuals; it is an organic unit with its own history, interactional patterns, norms, and ‘‘personality.’’ Few motivational researchers have studied how relationships and norms develop in the classroom, and how motivation theory might help teachers both establish and change them, yet this is what teachers need to know. For example, a motivational practice like giving informative feedback is more easily crafted for individuals than for a class of students. Yet if a teacher is to send a ‘‘mastery message’’ to the class, she must know how to address both individual and group needs simultaneously (cf., Mrs. Robinson in Turner et al., 2002). Finally, motivation research has mostly focused on the outcomes of generic beliefs such as competence, autonomy, and value. However, it is clear that students’ beliefs vary by situation, such as by content area in school (e.g., Stodolsky, 1988; Turner & Meyer, 2009). Even such recent attempts to measure beliefs, for example, ‘‘in math class’’ ignore the situational nature of classrooms. Visiting a class twice a year to administer surveys to students is not adequate to understand the dynamic nature of students’ beliefs, nor can it explain why students are reporting such beliefs. Even if theory were more focused on classroom dynamics and situations, its translation into supportive instructional practices would still be uncertain. That is because translating motivation theory in classrooms depends on teachers. Teachers have had little opportunity to learn about motivation, so it is likely that their beliefs and practices diverge from, or even contradict, the tenets that researchers espouse. For teachers to understand what theoretical constructs would ‘‘look like’’ in instructional practice and to be willing to change ineffective practices might even require



conceptual change (Gregoire, 2003; Richardson, 1994). Similarly, teachers can help researchers understand the complexities of classrooms, and thus how they might expand theory.

HOW DO TEACHERS UNDERSTAND MOTIVATION THEORY? Several teacher-related factors are likely to further complicate the classroom application of motivation theory. First, teachers come to their profession with long-held beliefs about students and learning that they developed during their own schooling (Lortie, 1975; Pajares, 1992) and are reinforced by society. These take the form of implicit theories, or ‘‘poorly articulated beliefs about the self and the social world’’ (Dweck, Chiu, & Hong, 1995, p. 267), and are difficult to uncover and challenge. For example, many teachers do not believe that altering classroom environments, relationships, and instruction can influence student motivation. Some teachers reason that if students do not learn, it is the fault of students’ (stable) motivation, ability, or persistence, but almost never related to the teacher’s instruction (Floden, 1996). These beliefs are disempowering for teachers and often discourage them from trying or persisting with motivational strategies. Second, the strategies that many teachers use are either ineffective or discredited and at odds with theory. Many rely on short-term (‘‘catch’’) rather than long-term (‘‘hold’’) activities (Mitchell, 1993). For example, some believe that ‘‘hands-on,’’ rather than ‘‘minds-on,’’ activities are effective in fostering learning. Related, many teachers consider motivation and instruction as separate goals. Thus, teachers may regard motivation as an ‘‘add-on’’ to instruction rather than integral to it, missing opportunities to make instruction itself more engaging and meaningful. Many teachers rely on extrinsic rewards or punishments, hoping to induce students to engage in activities that they would not do voluntarily (Reeve, Jang, Hardre, & Omura, 2002). Teachers generally view controlling strategies as more effective than autonomy-supportive ones (Barrett & Boggiano, 1988). Third, teachers’ beliefs about how students learn in different disciplines influence their instructional practice and students’ motivation to learn that subject. For example, it is common in mathematics for teachers to use traditional, didactic practices rather than discussion, exploration, or projects (McLaughlin & Talbert, 2001; Stodolsky, 1988). From primary

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grade to middle- and high-school mathematics classrooms, the emphasis is on procedures, recall, speed, and accuracy (e.g., Boaler, 2002; Cobb, Wood, Yackel, & McNeal, 1992). Although many teachers recall their student experiences with this kind of instruction with distaste and even anxiety, they often have no alternatives, and so they replicate the culture. Schoenfeld (1988) has demonstrated that students develop certain maladaptive assumptions in many mathematics classes as a result of teachers’ beliefs and practices. One belief is that ‘‘good’’ math students are fast and accurate (rather than slower and reflective). If a problem cannot be solved in the first few minutes, students conclude that they do not understand. Another belief is that students are not capable of discovering or making sense of mathematics themselves – they must ‘‘receive’’ knowledge that is ‘‘passed down’’ from experts like teachers or texts. These assumptions can result in diminished competence and autonomy, they discourage persistence and reflection, and they apply to all achievement levels. For example, Boaler and Greeno (2000) interviewed students in advanced placement (AP) calculus classes. In two classes, the students worked collaboratively and teachers encouraged discussion. These students found mathematics meaningful, as in these comments: ‘‘I can get more into it y why is this the way you do it?’’ (p. 182). In contrast, students in the other four classes perceived them as ‘‘solitary’’ environments in which their task was to practice and repeat demonstrated procedures. Students in the ‘‘didactic’’ classrooms described them as predictable (e.g., reviewing homework and doing exercises) and procedural. While some students found security in this latter approach, other students in the didactic classes who disliked math used words like ‘‘obedience,’’ ‘‘frustration,’’ and ‘‘ridiculous.’’ They made comments like: ‘‘We knew HOW to do it. But we didn’t know WHY we were doing it y. And I think that’s what I really struggle with is – I can get the answer, I just don’t understand why’’ (Boaler & Greeno, 2000, p. 184). These examples demonstrate that motivation in mathematics may be a unique case (Turner & Meyer, 2009) and that it is directly related to teachers’ instructional beliefs and practices. These findings provide strong evidence that motivation is content and context specific. Finally, teachers’ beliefs about motivation rest on experience rather than on general principles of instruction or on theory (Orton, 1996). Teachers rely on what has worked in the past, particular instances, trial and error, and ‘‘getting through.’’ Even though teacher beliefs are assumed to be related to their practice, these beliefs are often tacit, so that teachers may not be accustomed to providing explicit reasons for their practices or supporting the beliefs with justification (Orton, 1996). Therefore, they may be unaware



of the implications of some beliefs and corresponding practices. Both teachers’ reliance on experience and the tacit nature of beliefs may make it difficult for them to reflect on why they enact the practices they do and to discuss generalized principles of motivation. In summary, teachers and researchers possess different kinds of knowledge about students’ motivation to learn. Although both should be valuable, they need to be integrated.

VALIDATING THEORY IN CLASSROOMS Because theories were not developed in classrooms, researchers do not yet have empirical evidence that can be translated into practice. For example, Urdan and Turner (2005) reviewed the classroom implications of major theories of competence motivation and found that there was little empirical research to show how they could be put into practice, despite the fact that researchers routinely suggest them. Among these competence-supportive strategies were (a) offering moderate challenge (Blumenfeld, 1992), (b) supporting student autonomy (Reeve, Jang, Carrell, Barch, & Jeon, 2004), and (c) making learning meaningful (Assor, Kaplan, & Roth, 2002; Brophy, 2008). Urdan and Turner (2005) pointed out that these suggestions were not straightforward, but prompted numerous questions about their use in classrooms.

What Does it Mean to Offer ‘‘Moderate Challenge’’ in the Classroom? Do teachers and researchers agree on what ‘‘challenge’’ means? Even if there were agreement, do most teachers know how to design challenging instruction? Some teachers believe that challenge is demotivating, especially for low achievers and students with learning problems and they strive to avoid it. How would teachers navigate the frustration sure to occur if they increased challenge? Related, would students embrace challenge as an opportunity to increase competence or would some view it as a threat to competence (Dweck, 1999)? Research on avoidance has demonstrated that students are adept at deflecting tasks likely to display their lack of competence (Covington, 1992; Turner et al., 2002). Teachers have legions of stories about how their students avoid tasks, but not many strategies for turning this around. Therefore, developing an understanding of both the

Putting Motivation Theory to the ‘‘Classroom Test’’


theoretical justification for challenge and how to craft it for students more used to routine tasks is not obvious.

Can Autonomy and Control be Encouraged in Classrooms? These words have special psychological meaning that is likely to be difficult for teachers to understand, especially since many of them see classroom management (or ‘‘control’’) as a prime responsibility and necessary for learning (Assor, Kaplan, Kanat-Maymon, & Roth, 2005; Reeve et al., 2004; Reeve, 2009). Teachers who want to help students gain control of their learning might be hampered by their belief that students can only learn if the teacher provides explicit instruction and is ‘‘in charge’’ especially in mathematics classes, as noted previously. Even a simple application of providing autonomy, such as offering choices, taxes teachers’ preparation time and invites worries about covering standards. To add to the complications, theorists argue that choices are not as autonomypromoting as making learning relevant (Assor et al., 2002) or promoting conceptual thinking (Stefanou, Perencevich, DiCintio, & Turner, 2004). Given the emphasis in many classrooms on ‘‘learning by listening’’ and following directions (e.g., Patrick, Anderman, Ryan, Edelin, & Midgley, 2001), it remains to be seen whether teachers believe that students can exercise autonomy in learning, in effect, ‘‘creating new knowledge.’’

How Well Are Teachers Able to Craft Interesting and Meaningful Tasks? In the United States, the metaphor of ‘‘work’’ rather than ‘‘learning’’ has affixed itself to educational tasks (Marshall, 1988). To successfully counter this aversive notion, teachers need deep subject matter knowledge to be able to select important concepts and then relate them to the interests and developmental levels of their students (e.g., Blumenfeld, Fishman, Krajcik, Marx, & Soloway, 2000). Many teachers have not thought deeply about the significance or value of what they teach (Brophy, 2008). Coupled with the climate of high-stakes assessment, ‘‘approved’’ textbooks, and concern with coverage, teachers find this prescription daunting. Given these complex considerations, Urdan and Turner (2005) concluded that it was easier said than done to follow prescriptions from motivational theory.



A CASE IN POINT: COLLABORATING WITH MIDDLE-SCHOOL MATHEMATICS TEACHERS TO FOSTER MOTIVATION In an attempt to take these challenges seriously, I have begun classroom research to gather empirical data on the feasibility of translating motivation theory into instructional strategies that teachers understand and can use successfully. After presenting some background for the research, I will provide data to illustrate how the teachers in the project understood and enacted theory-based motivation strategies. In particular, I have selected instances that illustrate how teachers thought about the three issues discussed above – offering moderate challenge, opportunities for autonomy, and making learning meaningful – in their classrooms. This project provides information to researchers about how amenable theory is to classroom translation and how theory might be enriched or modified through these empirical tests. Project Description Tim Urdan and I synthesized the motivation literature to select four principles that cut across major theories of motivation and that were relevant to motivation to learn. They included supporting students’ competence, autonomy, and belongingness, and making learning meaningful. We conducted two nine-month interventions, one in Indiana and the other in California. I worked with six volunteer middle-grade (5–8) mathematics teachers in an urban intermediate school. During monthly 90-min meetings, I introduced the rationale for these principles (e.g., why is competence motivating for students?) along with classroom strategies that teachers could use to enact them. During the meetings, teachers also reflected on successes and problems in applying the strategies. The principles were introduced in this order: competence (October), belongingness (November), autonomy (January), and meaningfulness (February and March). We conducted two or three classroom observations of each teacher. In addition, we audiotaped fall and spring interviews with the teachers as well as interviews after each observation. Underlying this collaboration was our definition of a motivated student as one who was willing to put forth effort, who would persist when challenged, and who came to demonstrate some appreciation for what he or she was learning (Brophy, 2004, 2008). We expected that this would look different by developmental level and by classroom to some extent. Also, we expected teachers to note changes in these behaviors and attitudes over the course of

Putting Motivation Theory to the ‘‘Classroom Test’’


the school year. Most teachers commented on increases in all or some of these indicators. In addition, when teachers reported more effort, persistence, or interest, they usually also mentioned a qualitative improvement in understanding or learning. The change in learning was evident in classroom observations as well. We did not collect achievement data because our primary goal was to help teachers understand and implement the motivation principles through instructional strategies. In the section below, I will illustrate how teachers understood and responded to our efforts to translate theory into classroom strategies, beginning with early beliefs in the fall and continuing through the year.

TEACHERS’ INITIAL BELIEFS ABOUT MOTIVATION AND MATHEMATICS Teachers’ beliefs about students, motivation, and mathematics, as well as the way they interacted with their students, influenced how they took up the new ideas and strategies. In September, two teachers appeared to hold an entity view of intelligence (Dweck, 1999), as expressed by Teacher 5, who declared that motivation comes ‘‘from within and from home.’’ Others held more incremental views, such as Teacher 3, who argued that ‘‘As I got more excited last year, so did they.’’ The teachers interpreted ‘‘motivation’’ as students’ behaviors related to participation in class. When asked to describe a motivated student, several teachers immediately stated, ‘‘they bring a pencil to class.’’ We took this as teachers’ views that students exhibited minimal effort and interest in math. As examples of what they considered motivational for students, teachers recalled times when students got to use markers to put math problems on the board, and when they got to move around or sit on the floor. Such examples may have illustrated that students responded to novelty positively. These views were based on teachers’ classroom experiences, and were not specifically related to the more cognitive constructs of theory such as competence, autonomy, interest or satisfaction from learning that would be the focus of the collaboration. Because our focus was on motivation in mathematics, it was important to understand how teachers viewed the purpose of mathematics instruction. In general, their goal was to teach procedures so that students could apply them correctly, especially on standardized tests (e.g., Schoenfeld, 1988). Consistent with research on the disciplinary culture of mathematics instruction (e.g., Boaler, 2002), four of the six teachers expressed negative views about teaching and learning math, based on their early experiences.



They revealed low efficacy as mathematics learners, did not find mathematics interesting, and often recounted anxiety about math from their school days. Teacher 2 reported remembering that ‘‘I always thought ‘I am right or wrong, I am right or wrong’ and I can tell those students in my class because they will just shut down.’’ She described certain math topics such as converting fractions to decimals and proportions as ‘‘tedious’’ and she dismissed the importance of some topics: ‘‘integers are just integers. y it’s just a sign thing.’’ Teacher 1 admitted, ‘‘I still don’t y think of math as an enjoyable subject necessarily.’’ Teacher 4 recounted avoiding math class: ‘‘When I was y in high school, junior high, that was me, I’m not gonna go to [math] class.’’ Even Teacher 6, who had been a math major in college, reported that he majored in math because it ‘‘was easy,’’ not because it was interesting or challenging. Although the teachers viewed mathematics learning as correct application of algorithms to achieve right answers, they were unhappy with their students who ‘‘just wanted to know if it’s wrong or right and move on.’’ This dissatisfaction did provide some incentive for considering how to support students’ competence, however.

HOW DID TEACHERS INTERPRET STRATEGIES TO FOSTER ‘‘MODERATE CHALLENGE’’? We introduced the motivational rationale for moderate challenge in the meeting devoted to the competence principle. During this meeting, all four of the attending teachers described their students as fearful of anything but procedurally focused work such as completing computation exercises. For example, Teacher 1 described the elaborate strategies her fifth graders had developed to avoid challenging mathematics while appearing to try: ‘‘y they will scribble, they will doodle, act like they’re working as hard as they can, and they’re not. They’re not even paying attention or attempting to solve the problem.’’ Interestingly, teachers also expressed discomfort with math activities that required more thinking (and time) because students’ silence often made them feel unsuccessful. Teacher 2 admitted, ‘‘y as teachers you don’t want that silence y. it just makes you feel like you are not making progress.’’ Teacher 1 said that at times like these she wanted to ‘‘jump in and save them.’’ Sometimes, ‘‘without even meaning to,’’ she would give students the answer, presumably because students would be upset if they could not respond

Putting Motivation Theory to the ‘‘Classroom Test’’


quickly. Teacher 1 agreed that ‘‘silence sometimes equals confusion y or lack of understanding. So when it’s quiet, I’m just thinking [that] they don’t get it, [and so I think] ‘let’s go back.’’’ She justified her action by explaining that she taught the ‘‘low math group [who] struggle with confidence first and foremost.’’ She stated: ‘‘They ALWAYS ‘don’t get it.’’’ At the same time, she believed that ‘‘they need to know that they can be mathematicians, [that] they are mathematicians y and they don’t see themselves as one’’ (sic). For Teacher 1, increasing students’ competence was a priority, and she committed to implementing strategies. She used one of the competence strategies, having students lead portions of homework review, to address this issue. As students explained problems, the teacher gave them tips on how to ‘‘act like a teacher.’’ As students became more adept and assured, Teacher 1 realized that they were capable of more challenging tasks. She told her students ‘‘you can’t just say the answer. If somebody says [this] is this answer, then ask them to justify it. And if someone else doesn’t agree, then you have to [ask that person to] defend [her] answer.’’ By November, Teacher 1 reported that students had begun to do ‘‘a really good job of explaining the math thinking and not just explaining ‘this is step one, step two,’ but explaining why you have to do that.’’ She used other competence strategies such as increasing wait time and increasing student talk time while decreasing her own. When her efforts seemed to fall flat, she blamed herself, not her students. Although the road was bumpy, and she often thought she was failing, Teacher 1 gradually increased the challenge level for her students over the school year, and by the end, students demonstrated much more mathematical thinking. In addition, most students came to accept and expect challenging mathematics. This teacher was unusual. She was successful because she seemed to have an intuitive understanding of what ‘‘competence’’ meant for her fifth graders, and she was reflective about her students’ learning and emotions. In addition, she was adept at translating the strategies in developmentally appropriate ways for her students (e.g., ‘‘act like a teacher’’). Finally, she believed that it was her responsibility to help students progress, and she persisted through many setbacks. Teacher 5, by contrast, did not implement the strategies with success, partly because of her low expectations, partly because she misinterpreted the meaning of the strategies, and partly because she did not know how to use them effectively with her eighth graders. She misinterpreted the competence strategy of putting students in charge of homework review as assigning a review to all students as class work. She explained her thinking: ‘‘So I’m reviewing what they did in a class to see if they even know what’s going on y. [and] I thought, Oh that’s a great work for competence, cause it



should give them that ‘Well, I know this!’[feeling].’’ This teacher did not understand the notion that students needed to point to something important that they had done, not just complete problems on a worksheet. Her attempt further deteriorated when students became confused by the problems. The teacher gave up and responded by telling the students how to do each problem. Thus, the activity probably did little to convey to students that they could meet challenges because the teacher assumed the challenges for them. Furthermore, the teacher interpreted this event as confirmation that the students were incompetent rather than as her own failure to use the strategy successfully. ‘‘Well, today, nobody knew anything in that class,’’ she concluded. When Teacher 3 tried to offer suggestions that would make the strategy work better, Teacher 5 replied, ‘‘Well, some of these kids aren’t the smartest. Ok, they’re the best class I have, but they’re just not real competent, normally.’’ It appears that this teacher did not believe that her students could meet challenges, nor did she have the instructional skills to design and scaffold activities that could support her students’ competence. Students continued to resist her efforts and the teacher resorted to offering the students food to enlist their cooperation, but student effort was spotty at best. These are just two examples of the complexity of both understanding the implications of motivation research and implementing related strategies successfully.

HOW DID TEACHERS UNDERSTAND THE CONSTRUCT OF AUTONOMY IN CLASSROOMS? The importance of teacher control arose early in the project. This is not surprising, given the emphasis on classroom management in schools and the responsibility that teachers feel for maintaining order. Teachers’ sense of responsibility and control also extends to instruction. In the fall, teachers expressed the view that students could learn only if teachers were in control – doing the talking, directing action, and playing the ‘‘expert’’ role. We introduced the autonomy principle with this rationale: students view the teacher and the textbook as ‘‘the experts.’’ When students think that they, too, have something valuable to say (they are ‘‘experts’’ too), they will put forth more effort and learn more, including through their interaction with others. Strategies included changing the student role from passive listener to active explainer, collaborator, or problem solver, and encouraging multiple approaches to problems. The autonomy concept raised the specter of disorganization for some teachers, who worried about a ‘‘free for all’’ if students were allowed to

Putting Motivation Theory to the ‘‘Classroom Test’’


work together or if students were learning from each other. ‘‘Math is not a social thing y they’re not used to having math [talk like that],’’ Teacher 3 stated. Similarly, teachers did not believe that students could learn except from traditional didactic instruction, a belief firmly entrenched in the culture of mathematics instruction (e.g., Boaler, 2002). As Teacher 1 said, ‘‘I have done that in the past and I always get to the point where I’m like, ‘OK, I’ve got to take control again because we’re not learning anything.’’’ On the one hand, teachers saw students’ pleas to ‘‘come check [my problem],’’ as a sign of students’ low self-competence and autonomy, which they did not like. On the other hand, they were reluctant to share authority with their students. When asked why they persisted in checking students’ problems, one teacher responded, ‘‘to check that they are on task,’’ seeming to imply a lack of trust in students’ intentions. To illustrate how one might facilitate autonomous thinking, we showed the teachers a video of a seventh-grade math class taught by Kathy Humphreys (Boaler & Humphreys, 2005). Humphreys turned the teaching of a routine formula (area of a cylinder) into an opportunity for students to develop cognitive autonomy (Stefanou et al., 2004). Holding an oatmeal box, the teacher asked the class if anything they had learned about rectangular prisms (studied previously) could help them develop ‘‘a theory about how to find the volume of one of these [cylinders]?’’ Students in the video began working in small groups to develop the formula while the teacher encouraged them with comments such as ‘‘I’m really curious’’ and ‘‘that’s interesting, keep working.’’ The teachers in the collaboration group were stunned that the students in the video could work without teacher assistance. They marveled that students could hypothesize about how to measure volume in a cylinder without having first learned the formula. One teacher protested, ‘‘This can’t be a new lesson.’’ The video provided teachers with an opportunity to see how teacher and student roles might change. They noticed that students took more responsibility for learning, changing the teacher role from sole expert to coach or facilitator. They liked the notion that sharing responsibility for learning with the students lessened the teacher’s ‘‘burden,’’ but some teachers expressed misconceptions about what this meant. Consistent with our intention, Teacher 2 noted the growth-enhancing opportunity for students as ‘‘giving them the responsibility.’’ Also, Teacher 4, whose students were working successfully in cooperative groups, said ‘‘[I have] no problem turning my class over to the kids – I have no problem [letting them] teach one another y because I think it’s needed.’’ He reasoned that ‘‘y a student might describe it or might translate things a little better or at least



differently than I did y they can understand one another.’’ This teacher appeared to violate his newfound beliefs when he decided to ‘‘take over’’ teaching the difficult topic of integers. Later, he admitted ruefully that he had not been successful. He noted, ‘‘I kind of regret, I almost want to go back and revisit it and just let them do it’’ acknowledging the motivational and learning benefits of students working together. Teacher 1 summed up the benefits of autonomy: teachers did not need to ‘‘teach harder’’ for students to learn, but rather to ‘‘switch the teaching to the students so they are y learning for themselves. If they are the ones figuring out if they are wrong, or if they are the ones doing most of the talking, then they’re going to feel more successful, more control y or more pride y.’’ In contrast, Teachers 5 and 6 misinterpreted the positive notion of sharing responsibility with students. Teacher 5 interpreted sharing responsibility as ‘‘put[ting] the burden on them [students].’’ Similarly, Teacher 6 commented that when students take more responsibility, ‘‘they don’t realize y they are actually helping you, teaching the lesson, [and] you can kind of sit back and realize who isn’t paying attention y.’’ For this teacher, giving students more responsibility was a way to forego his own. At the same time, Teacher 6 seemed to believe that using strategies like the ones demonstrated in the video were unrealistic. His experiences had led him to distrust his students’ good will and their willingness to meet new standards: ‘‘And then you get into the world of teaching, especially here at [our school], everything you learn you have to throw it out. First you have to worry about discipline, then you have to worry about the chemistry of your class, and then attention, and then you can have this wonderful lesson with bows and stickers on it and everything like that.’’ Teacher 6 appeared to believe that he would never overcome the obstacles and thus would not ever achieve the ‘‘wonderful lesson’’ because of the characteristics of his students. Although he had no discipline problems in his classes, this teacher voiced the most discomfort about losing control and he made few changes in his instruction. In a related way, he seemed not to believe that students could learn if he did not control instruction. There were also organizational obstacles that discouraged teachers from taking the instructional risks that the autonomy principle entailed. The teachers who had experimented with more student-centered teaching found that it often took longer to ‘‘cover’’ a topic than it did with traditional teaching. Ironically, allowing more student talk often revealed mathematical misconceptions that teachers wanted to address, and this took additional time. However, the press of ‘‘covering’’ standards and looming standardized tests worked against this kind of instruction. As Teacher 1 lamented, ‘‘it’s

Putting Motivation Theory to the ‘‘Classroom Test’’


really hard to swing yourself over to the philosophy of no matter y how much time it may take away from these standards that aren’t as important, I’m going to do it anyway ‘cause I know it will help my students learn more deeply. That’s such a hard fence to ride.’’ Teachers 1 and 3 were very sensitive to the fact that they were not as far along in the textbook as their colleagues, another obstacle to changing instruction to a less ‘‘efficient’’ mode. Finally, these teachers feared that if an administrator walked into their classroom, it was safer to be standing in front of the class with textbook in hand as if to say ‘‘here’s the book and this is what I did,’’ than to conduct activities that were less scripted and predictable. Teacher 3 concluded, ‘‘you do what’s safe, you do what’s easiest y.’’ The autonomy principle appeared to challenge some of the teachers’ fundamental beliefs about teaching and learning. These included how teachers exercised their responsibility to help students learn, expectations for what students could learn, and developing strategies to replace transmissionstyle instruction. The disciplinary traditions of mathematics, which centered on teacher demonstration and student practice, also made transition to the concept of student as ‘‘expert’’ more difficult for the teachers. This was especially true for teachers, like Teacher 2, who lacked confidence in her mathematical expertise and feared creating a situation in which she would not be able to respond to novel questions or ideas. However, Teacher 6, who was a math major in college, changed his instruction the least, demonstrating that content knowledge was necessary but not sufficient to explain how teachers are able to understand and implement principles of motivation in mathematics.

MEANINGFUL LEARNING Of all the principles we discussed, meaningfulness was the most difficult for the teachers. At the beginning of the collaboration, the teachers had not thought deeply about the significance or value of what they taught, not least because most did not value mathematics themselves. As noted earlier, mathematics was not meaningful for at least three of the teachers, partly because their content knowledge was weak. Teacher 1 admitted, ‘‘I know that pi comes from somewhere and God only knows where it comes from. Doesn’t it have to do with some distance around the circle?’’ Even the three who had adequate content knowledge had difficulty thinking about what was important or interesting about the math curriculum. Rather than think about why one taught certain topics, and which concepts were important,



they were focused on whether students could demonstrate skills and procedures on standardized assessments. All the teachers viewed mathematics learning as correct application of algorithms to result in right answers. Yet Teacher 3 reflected, ‘‘I wonder how many of my kids sit in this class thinking, ‘OK, and the reason for this is y?’ ’’ The strategies we proposed involved (a) relating math to daily experience (when possible), (b) demonstrating their own interest in mathematics, and (c) selecting multi-day, conceptually oriented problems, rather than the standard computation exercises. This latter suggestion assumed that when problems made concepts visible, they would be more intriguing to the students (as in the Boaler & Humphreys, 2005 video). Teachers found all these strategies difficult to implement because most of the curriculum was not directly relevant to the lives of middle-school students, teachers were not personally interested in math, and complex problems were hard to find and teach. More importantly, they feared that complex problems might take time away from teaching (and learning) the skills that would be tested. Teachers did not necessarily believe that a focus on concepts (such as place value) would also help students learn the procedures such as multiplying decimals (see Fennema et al., 1996; Rittle-Johnson, Siegler, & Alibali, 2001; and Stipek, Givven, Salmon, & MacGyvers, 1998a for research on the relationship between conceptual and procedural learning). Because of her focus on increasing students’ competence, Teacher 1 was the first to take the risk of trying to make mathematics more meaningful. She vowed to make her instruction ‘‘more meaningful y than [the usual] ‘go home and do twenty problems.’’’ She admitted, ‘‘I send home homework that’s a drag and I wouldn’t wanna [sic] do it either.’’ In a series of attempts, she struggled with how to help her low-achieving students understand important mathematical ideas. By February she was consciously asking herself what important concepts underlay the skills-focused curriculum, and seeking more active and meaningful ways for her students to develop them. She grew increasingly skillful at scaffolding students’ thinking, and it was only because she was responsive to students’ difficulties and persisted that she succeeded. More than once she wanted to give up and return to traditional teaching, but having seen the glimmers of insight and the excitement of her students, she continued. Although Teacher 2 declared in January that ‘‘there [are] certain subjects y [that are] boring and you don’t know how to relate it to them or get their interest,’’ she wanted to make mathematics more meaningful. She had set a goal of improving her questioning skills, and this became a vehicle for her to create more interesting activities for her students. She designed

Putting Motivation Theory to the ‘‘Classroom Test’’


open-ended warm-up activities that allowed students to apply the content in different ways. For example, she asked students to find relationships among a set of basketball scores to prompt their application of mean, median, and mode. She used the names and prices of real video games to teach the unit on discount and percentage. Although Teacher 2 was not able to analyze and scaffold her students’ learning processes as expertly as did Teacher 1, she was able to confront her low efficacy in math, provide her students with opportunities to make some connections among math topics, and apply math to personal experience. Teacher 5 had difficulty distinguishing between ‘‘fun’’ (hands-on) and meaningful (minds-on) activities. For example, she designed an activity to create a boat using geometric shapes. She explained the rationale this way: ‘‘since we’re in geometry, we’re going to use geometric items to build boats y. And if you look at real boats, they’ve got a lot of geometry involved in them.’’ This turned out to be a waste of time for eighth graders, who were already familiar with geometric shapes. Teacher 5 tried to make math relevant by discussing how students could be cheated at the grocery store if they did not count their change. But, she complained, ‘‘they just stare at you y they don’t even think about stuff like that and it’s pathetic y that we don’t even have wise consumers – we’re not creating wise consumers.’’ Teacher 5’s low expectations and difficulty establishing positive relationships with her students continued to impede her ability to translate the strategies. Meaningfulness was the most difficult principle for the teachers to enact for several reasons. Their knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of mathematics may have been insufficient for them to make such connections themselves. They did not want to spend more time planning, preferring to rely on the textbook exercises. Only Teacher 1 took advantage of the content resources, like books with conceptual approaches to math topics, that we made available to the teachers. The teachers believed that a focus on skills and procedures was required if students were to score well on standardized assessments. As a result, they were unsure of the value of trying to teach meaningful concepts, largely because they did not trust that conceptual learning also supported skill development.

WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR TESTING MOTIVATION THEORY IN CLASSROOMS? The goal of the collaboration I just described was to help teachers internalize rationales for the practices (Assor, Kaplan, Feinberg, & Tal, 2009) and



develop what Richardson (1990) called a ‘‘warrant,’’ or theoretical justification for practice. As I hope the commentaries demonstrate, it is an enormously complex undertaking. Although it still seems sensible and necessary to me to begin by translating theory into practices that can be implemented in daily instruction, it is neither obvious how one does this nor does it assure that teachers understand the purpose of the strategies or that they will use them successfully. While I believe that the motivation theories hold promise for classroom practice (e.g., Reeve et al., 2004), they must be ‘‘situated’’ to be useful to most teachers (Pajares, 2007). Therefore, my vision for the next decade of motivation research in the classroom is to marry motivation theories to learning and instructional activity. This requires broadening our knowledge base and working with teachers and developing understanding of their world. To meet these goals, I propose the following questions for our research agenda in the next 10 years:

Is Motivation Theory Enough to Support This Ambitious Agenda? Almost 20 years ago, Blumenfeld (1992), in commenting on research in goal theory, advised that ‘‘research on motivation could profit from the consideration of constructivist frameworks about learning and instruction’’ (p. 277). Yet motivation research does not routinely examine the kinds of learning opportunities that students have nor does it speculate on which conceptions of learning undergird these opportunities. For example, when students report high mastery goal structures, are they reflecting a focus on isolated skills and facts or do they reflect opportunities to think, take risks, and consider alternative ideas? If the former, it might be that dimensions of mastery goal structure merely make school work more ‘‘palatable,’’ but not more meaningful (Blumenfeld, 1992, p. 275). This calls into question the theoretical meaning of a mastery goal structure, because it should make a ‘‘motivational’’ difference whether students have opportunities to grapple with challenging problems and use cognitive tools and others as resources (Blumenfeld et al., 1991). Researchers in mathematics and literacy, for example, have demonstrated how teachers’ theories of learning and instructional practices are related to their students’ motivation and identities as learners (e.g., Boaler, 2002; Gresalfi, in press; Guthrie et al., 2004). Motivation scholars can and should take a cue from these scholars, and investigate motivation as part and parcel of what it means to ‘‘learn’’ content. The research of Stipek and colleagues provides a useful model for the field

Putting Motivation Theory to the ‘‘Classroom Test’’


(Stipek et al., 1998a, 1998b). Similarly, Brophy (2008) has illuminated features of instruction that help students appreciate the value of learning.

What Are Teachers’ (Often Tacit) Belief Systems Regarding Motivation, Learning, and Disciplinary Knowledge? What Are Their Rationales for Practice? Several motivational beliefs played an important role in teachers’ responses in my research and these have also been mentioned by other researchers (e.g., Floden, 1996). Teachers’ tacit or implicit theories guide their interpretations of their actions and those of their students and influence the goals they pursue. Very important are implicit beliefs about whether motivation and ability are stable or malleable (Dweck, 1999) and experience-based interpretations about what ‘‘motivates’’ students. Teachers used mostly behavioral explanations of motivation, such as students are motivated to ‘‘move around,’’ or ‘‘use markers,’’ which we believe were teachers’ initial expressions of the concepts of effort and interest. Although it made sense to teachers that it was positive for students to feel ‘‘confident’’ (competent), they did not make a direct connection to motivation, effort, and persistence. The other principles we introduced – belongingness, autonomy, and meaningfulness – were not part of the teachers’ schema for motivation, and were often seen as strategies that were unworkable because they might disrupt the smooth flow of instruction and curriculum coverage. Therefore, the implications of principles of motivation for instruction are likely to be rejected unless the researcher can assemble convincing examples and supporting anecdotes as well as situate the principles as instructional practices that teachers are willing and able to try. In terms of learning, mathematics teachers frequently hold strongly to the notion that students learn solely by listening quietly and practicing procedures; they often do not believe that students can construct mathematical understandings (such as why 2/3 ¼ 4/6) unless they have first been taught procedures or formulas (i.e., multiply numerator and denominator by 2; Schoenfeld, 1988). When viewing a Japanese video of an eighthgrade geometry class (TIMSS; Stigler, Gonzales, Kawanaka, Knoll, & Serrano, 1999) and the Kathy Humphreys video (Boaler & Humphreys, 2005), the teachers made comments like, ‘‘our students could never do that,’’ ‘‘there wasn’t a lot of instruction,’’ and ‘‘this can’t be a new lesson; they must have been taught this first.’’ Whether conscious or not, the mathematics teachers in this project held behaviorist views that students learn solely by



imitating examples and by practice and reinforcement. Disciplinary traditions in mathematics reinforce these beliefs (Boaler & Greeno, 2000). These views tend to hamper teachers’ understanding and willingness to try instructional strategies that support motivation because the strategies appear to directly contradict what the teachers believe to be true. In sum, there is great need for research on how to uncover teachers’ tacit assumptions and how to respectfully challenge their strongly held disciplinary beliefs. In addition, we need to learn how to foster reflection and discussion so that teachers can examine beliefs in light of theory and student outcomes (e.g., Krajcik, Blumenfeld, Marx, & Soloway, 1994).

How Can We Support Teacher Change? Teachers, like all of us, rely on prior knowledge to interpret new information. In the case of learning principles of motivation, some teachers transform new practices into hybrids of their former practices, as in Cohen’s (1990) account of Mrs. Oublier, who believed that she was faithfully enacting reform mathematics. For example, in my study, Teacher 6 translated giving students autonomy as ‘‘putting the responsibility on them’’ (i.e., blaming students if an activity did not succeed). Nolen and Ward (2008) described these processes as recontextualization. Learning new concepts requires teachers to transform and negotiate (Eraut, 2000) across the gap between old and new practices. Because this transformation entails different assumptions, goals, and values, teachers need time and support in making sense of the new practices in their current situation. How we address these situations requires knowledge of conceptual change theories (e.g., Gregoire, 2003; Richardson, 1994) and tenets of professional development (e.g., Fullan, 2007). Gregoire’s (2003) theory of teacher conceptual change posits that teacher efficacy is key to whether teachers treat opportunities for change as a challenge or a threat. This suggests that researchers take teacher efficacy into consideration, just as they would advise teachers to consider and support their students’ efficacy. In my analysis of the collaboration project, efficacy played an important role for every teacher, sometimes supporting, sometimes blocking opportunities for change. As the teacher group developed trust, and as teachers succeeded with strategies, some teachers’ efficacy improved and fuelled further change. Others continued selfprotective strategies. Fullan (2007) noted that the best approach to professional development is the development of professional communities. But communities are difficult to develop and require collaboration, trust,

Putting Motivation Theory to the ‘‘Classroom Test’’


and social cohesion. However, Fullan (2007) contends that the more support teachers receive in enacting effective practices, the greater likelihood of improved practices and student engagement. Therefore, part of the researcher’s task of working with teachers to learn, enact, and understand principles of motivation requires understanding conceptual change and professional development.

What is the Role of Teachers’ Content Knowledge? Content knowledge is yet another factor related to teachers’ enactment of instructional strategies. Teachers who do not have adequate content grounding are likely to feel less efficacious and therefore may be less willing or able to less able to attempt new strategies (Ball & Cohen, 1999; Ma, 1999). Similarly, they might be less inclined to vary instructional activities, conduct interesting discussions, design compelling projects, or even invite student inquiries, because all of these require that the teacher negotiate the unexpected. In my research, content knowledge was clearly an important factor. However, its initial impact differed for different teachers, and was not the most important predictor of teachers’ commitment or success. For example, Teacher 1 acknowledged her unsatisfactory mathematical preparation and used it as part of her rationale to change practices. And so I really do need to start spending more time, I think, investigating the whys of things myself even because all I am doing is going by what I was taught and why I was taught it. And when I was taught all that time ago. And that’s how it was taught then, so I keep passing it along the same thing and it doesn’t fly anymore.

For Teacher 2, inadequate content knowledge appeared to decrease efficacy, and increased the time she took to begin to change practices. Ultimately, both teachers needed to increase content knowledge if they were to be effective mathematics teachers.

What is the Role of Curriculum, School and District Norms, and National Educational Policy? Cobb, Zhao, and Dean (2009) argue that ‘‘teachers’ instructional practices are not merely influenced by but are partially constituted by the materials and resources that the teachers use in their classroom practice, the institutional constraints that they attempt to satisfy, and the formal and



informal sources of assistance on which they draw’’ (p. 167). Therefore, researchers must take account of the national and institutional policy setting in which teachers work when they attempt to help them develop new rationales for practices. Depending on the relative emphasis and sanctions of the current policy environment, teachers often feel compelled to teach at a quick pace and shallowly to ‘‘cover’’ material. Therefore, even if teachers are interested in adopting practices that they believe are more supportive of motivation and deep learning, they are often torn between what they can view as two, incompatible extremes. For example, among the teachers in the collaboration, there was a constant push and pull between wanting to use more problem-based activities and the algorithmic practice that teachers believed was essential if students were to do well on the standardized tests. After two teachers had devoted time to trying to teach conceptually they would often revert back to practice exercises in an attempt to ‘‘cover’’ all the material before the test. Deciding how much one could diverge from practice exercises emerged as the major hurdle for several teachers. The curriculum and the textbook were regarded as necessary evils – unsatisfactory, but still instrumental to students’ test performance. Norms in the school building also reinforced teachers’ angst about how to best prepare their students for the tests. While the teachers were trying to grapple with learning rather than memorization, conversations with peers who had ‘‘covered’’ more content made them panic. Not only were they sensitive to the social comparison, but they also questioned whether spending more time on topics to foster understanding was efficient and fair to their students. It was very difficult for them to distinguish ‘‘coverage’’ from learning. Teachers also discussed how the ‘‘different’’ kinds of lessons they were trying would look to an administrator. They admitted that it was safer to stand in the front of the room with a teacher’s guide than to preside over open-ended projects, which looked ‘‘messy’’ through the traditional eyes of their supervisors. Of course, both the issues of what and how to teach so that students perform well on standardized tests and the norms that emphasize test results reflect the emphasis of national educational policy embodied in No Child Left Behind and school reform. Researchers must acknowledge that if they want teachers to try strategies related to fostering motivation, it will be in this national educational context of high-stakes testing and school reform. It is exceedingly difficult for teachers and other school personnel to believe that teaching important mathematical concepts supports both procedural and conceptual mastery. Finding some way to demonstrate this to teachers – either through their students’ progress or with some data from classrooms

Putting Motivation Theory to the ‘‘Classroom Test’’


like theirs – will be necessary before most are comfortable taking what they believe is a very risky path.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? As I have tried to illustrate above, the goal of bringing research on motivation to the classroom is quite complex. Even if we succeed in developing strategies to help teachers enact motivation principles in the classroom – a substantial task in its own right – there are a myriad of issues that researchers must consider including teachers’ beliefs about learning and motivation and their content preparation, as well as interpersonal and organizational constraints. Nevertheless, this is what I believe we must do if our research and theories are to have any ‘‘cash value’’ (Pajares, 2007). Teachers do want to support their students’ motivation to learn. The teachers in this project were gratified, even exultant, when their students demonstrated good mathematical thinking, when they worked with and helped each other understand, when they created different solution paths, and when they showed an appreciation for powerful mathematical ideas. As Teacher 1 said when her most mathavoidant student led the discussion of a homework problem, ‘‘I wanted to sing out the window!’’ Even Teacher 5, who had great difficulty enacting strategies over the school year, reported with great pride in May that some of her low-achieving students were benefiting: ‘‘the ones that really care or are trying, maybe the worst kids we have academically, y I think it’s [the strategies] benefited them.’’ She went on to recount the story of two girls who ‘‘would have never said a word’’ in the fall, but now were engaged in the mathematics: ‘‘I couldn’t stop her. She was going on and on and on saying, ‘no, we gotta do this and this.’ And I’m like whoa y I kept going over there listening to her. And in the beginning of the year, did she even answer? y They never opened their mouth.’’

CHALLENGES TO THEORY AND METHOD Despite its intensity and uncertainty, I find this work as rewarding as it is challenging. Motivation psychologists are interested in what motivates people to learn. Motivation research in classrooms with teachers and students opens up a vast new terrain for theory, methodology, and practice. Each issue I have raised in this chapter presents an opportunity for



developing theories of motivation in classrooms. Despite the individual trajectories that this research revealed, I predict that as we work more frequently with teachers, patterns will begin to emerge. For example, we found that teachers gradually developed their conceptions of motivation from a focus on students’ participation to formulating reasons for why students participated more and in different ways. In particular, they came to understand how both social interaction and more meaningful content supported students’ willingness to engage in mathematics. These patterns – with both teachers and students – can begin to point us toward ecologically valid theories of motivation in classrooms (Turner & Patrick, 2008). Possible reformulations of theory might include more emphasis on social interaction (e.g., Anderman & Kaplan, 2008; Patrick, Ryan, & Kaplan, 2007) and more consideration of learning processes and content. If theory were to be developed inductively, through classroom research, it might both account for the activities and conditions of the classroom and be understandable and meaningful for teachers.

DIFFERENT FRAMEWORKS AND METHODS A focus on a classroom theory of motivation is likely to benefit from additional frameworks and methods. Sociocultural theories, which examine the transaction of people in social and cultural settings might offer more insights in the how and why of motivational development and change than do current sociocognitive theories of motivation, which focus on individuals’ perceptions of the social world (see Turner & Patrick, 2008). Sociocultural approaches designate the event or activity as the unit of analysis rather than treating the individual and the environment as separate entities (Rogoff, 1990; Walker, Pressick-Kilborn, Sainsbury, & MacCallum, 2010; Wenger, 1998). In classrooms, students influence teachers as much as the reverse, as studies of teachers’ emotions and burnout seem to imply (e.g., Sutton & Wheatley, 2003). Therefore, we need to capture the relationships between and among people; this involves measuring them together rather than separately, and integral to the context, rather than separate from it (for an example, see Rivera & Tharp, 2004). Another theoretical consideration is the dynamic and developmental nature of classroom transactions. Many developmental psychologists (e.g., Friedman & Wachs, 1999) have embraced methodologies that try to capture the dynamic nature of relationships and change such as dynamic systems theory (e.g., Lewis, 2000; Thelen & Smith, 2006) and one of its applications,

Putting Motivation Theory to the ‘‘Classroom Test’’


state-space grid analysis (e.g., Granic & Patterson, 2006). These approaches focus on the emergence of new forms or properties, something quite important in understanding motivation in classrooms. Anthropologists have developed theories and methods for understanding behavioral and cognitive change in situ (Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, & Cain, 1998; Spindler, 2000). Ethnographers have long used observational methods to uncover how people construct meanings in their daily lives, in particular social, cultural, and historical settings (e.g., Erickson, 2006). Therefore, new models and methods exist that could be applied to our understanding of motivation in classrooms. Use of methodologies such as these could give us more tools to understand how classroom cultures develop and their role in student motivation to learn. Yet another theoretical consideration is the role of teachers’ motivation in classroom process. Most of our research efforts in educational psychology have focused on students, but as I have discussed teachers also have beliefs, expectations, goals, and theories about how and why students learn (Hardre, Davis, & Sullivan, 2008; Turner, Christensen, & Meyer, 2009), and they are directly related to interactions in the classroom. Fortunately, teacher motivation is receiving growing attention. Researchers have interpreted teacher motivation through established theoretical lenses such as expectancyvalue theory (Watt & Richardson, 2008) and achievement goal theory (Butler, 2007; Butler & Shibaz, 2008), and self-efficacy (Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk-Hoy, 2001). As I have tried to demonstrate, teachers’ theories presumably undergird their instructional beliefs, discourse, and behaviors which relate directly to changing motivational processes in classrooms. Therefore, any analysis of classroom interaction or any intervention must consider teachers’ theories of learning and engagement. In this chapter I have argued for a new wave of motivation research that is situated in classrooms and focused on how teachers interact with their students. I contend that we must embrace the challenge of making principles of motivation understandable and useful to teachers. To date, we have almost no empirical investigations of whether and how our theories meet the ‘‘classroom test.’’ Factors such as teachers’ beliefs, their content knowledge, and disciplinary assumptions, as well as curricular, organizational, and policy issues, all play a role in teacher–student interactions and students’ motivation and learning. Tackling this new undertaking is likely to benefit from new frameworks and methods that enable us to analyze the dynamic nature of teaching, learning, and motivation. However, researchers must also be willing to venture into new areas such as learning theory, teacher conceptual change, and professional development. We will not affect



student motivation unless we work with, and support, their teachers. How or if our theories can be made useful to students and teachers can only be discerned by doing the challenging and rewarding research this entails.

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Hardre, P. L., Davis, K. A., & Sullivan, D. W. (2008). Measuring teacher perceptions of the ‘‘how’’ and ‘‘why’’ of student motivation. Educational Research and Evaluation, 14, 155–179. Holland, D., Lachicotte, W., Skinner, D., & Cain, C. (1998). Identity and agency in cultural worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Krajcik, J., Blumenfeld, P., Marx, R., & Soloway, E. (1994). A collaborative model for helping middle grade science teachers learn project-based instruction. Elementary School Journal, 94, 483–497. Lewis, M. D. (2000). The promise of dynamic systems approaches for an integrated account of human development. Child Development, 71, 36–43. Lortie, D. C. (1975). Schoolteacher: A sociological study of teaching. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ma, L. (1999). Knowing and teaching elementary mathematics. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Marshall, H. H. (1988). Work or learning: Implications of classroom metaphors. Educational Researcher, 17(9), 9–16. McLaughlin, M., & Talbert, J. (2001). Professional communities and the work of high school teaching. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Mitchell, M. (1993). Situational interest: Its multifaceted structure in the secondary school mathematics classroom. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85, 424–436. Nolen, S. B., & Ward, C. J. (2008). Sociocultural and situative research on motivation. In: M. L. Maehr, S. A. Karabenick, & T. C. Urdan (Eds), Advances in motivation and achievement Social psychological perspectives (Vol. 15, pp. 428–460). London: Emerald Group. Orton, R. (1996). How can teacher beliefs about student learning be justified?. Curriculum Inquiry, 26, 133–146. Pajares, F. (1992). Teachers’ beliefs and educational research: Cleaning up a messy construct. Review of Educational Research, 62, 307–332. Pajares, F. (2007). Culturalizing educational psychology. In: F. Salili & R. Hoosain (Eds), Culture, motivation and learning: A multicultural perspective (pp. 19–42). Greenwich, CT: Information Age. Patrick, H. (2004). Re-examining classroom mastery goal structure. In: P. R. Pintrich & M. L. Maehr (Eds), Motivating students, improving schools: The legacy of Carol Midgley, advances in motivation (Vol. 13, pp. 233–263). Amsterdam: Elsevier. Patrick, H., Anderman, L. H., Ryan, A. M., Edelin, K., & Midgley, C. (2001). Teachers’ communication of goal orientations in four fifth-grade classrooms. The Elementary School Journal, 102, 35–58. Patrick, H., Ryan, A. M., & Kaplan, A. (2007). Early adolescents’ perceptions of the classroom social environment, motivational beliefs, and engagement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99, 83–98. Reeve, J. (2009). Why teachers adopt a controlling motivating style toward students and how they can become more autonomy supportive. Educational Psychologist, 44, 159–175. Reeve, J., Jang, H., Carrell, D., Barch, J., & Jeon, S. (2004). Enhancing high school students’ engagement by increasing their teachers’ autonomy support. Motivation and Emotion, 28, 147–169. Reeve, J., Jang, H., Hardre, P., & Omura, M. (2002). Providing a rationale in an autonomysupportive way as a strategy to motivate others during an uninteresting activity. Motivation and Emotion, 26, 183–207.

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Richardson, V. (1990). Significant and worthwhile change in teaching practice. Educational Researcher, 19, 10–18. Richardson, V. (Ed.) (1994). Teacher change and the staff development process: A case in reading instruction. New York: Teachers College Press. Rittle-Johnson, B., Siegler, R. S., & Alibali, M. W. (2001). Developing conceptual understanding and procedural skill in mathematics: An iterative process. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 346–362. Rivera, H. H., & Tharp, R. G. (2004). Sociocultural activity settings in the classroom: A study of a classroom observation system. In: H. C. Waxman, R. G. Tharp & R. S. Hilberg (Eds), Observational research in U.S. classrooms (pp. 205–230). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Rogoff, B. (1990). Apprenticeship in thinking: Cognitive development in social context. New York: Oxford University Press. Schoenfeld, A. (1988). When good teaching leads to bad results: Disasters of well-taught mathematics courses. Educational Psychologist, 23, 145–166. Spindler, G. (Ed.) (2000). Fifty years of anthropology and education, 1950–2000: A Spindler anthology. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Stefanou, C. R., Perencevich, K. C., DiCintio, M., & Turner, J. C. (2004). Supporting autonomy in the classroom: Ways teachers encourage student decision making and ownership. Educational Psychologist, 39, 97–110. Stigler, J. W., Gonzales, P., Kawanaka, T., Knoll, S., & Serrano, A. (1999). The TIMSS videotape classroom study: Methods and findings from an exploratory research project on eighth-grade mathematics instruction in Germany, Japan, and the United States (NCES publication no. 1999-074). Washington, DC: US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Stipek, D., Givven, K. B., Salmon, J. M., & MacGyvers, V. L. (1998a). Can a teacher intervention improve classroom practices and student motivation in mathematics? Journal of Experimental Education, 66, 319–337. Stipek, D., Salmon, J. M., Givvin, K. B., Kazemi, E., Saxe, G., & MacGyvers, V. L. (1998b). The value (and convergence) of practices suggested by motivation research and promoted by mathematics education reformers. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 29, 465–488. Stodolsky, S. S. (1988). The subject matters: Classroom activity in mathematics and social studies. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Sutton, R., & Wheatley, K. F. (2003). Teachers’ emotions and teaching: A review of the literature and directions for future research. Educational Psychology Review, 15, 327–358. Thelen, E., & Smith, L. (2006). Dynamic systems theories. In: W. Damon & R. M. Lerner (Eds), Handbook of child psychology: Theoretical models of human development (6th ed., Vol. 1, pp. 258–312). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Tschannen-Moran, M., & Woolfolk-Hoy, A. (2001). Teacher efficacy: Capturing an elusive construct. Teaching and Teacher Education, 17, 783–805. Turner, J. C., Christensen, A., & Meyer, D. K. (2009). Teachers’ beliefs about student learning and motivation. In: L. J. Saha & A. G. Dworkin (Eds), The new international handbook of teachers and teaching (Part 1, pp. 361–371). New York: Springer. Turner, J. C., & Meyer, D. K. (2009). Understanding motivation in mathematics: What is happening in classrooms? In: K. R. Wentzel & A. Wigfield (Eds), Handbook of motivation at school (pp. 527–552). New York: Routledge.



Turner, J. C., Meyer, D. K., Cox, K. E., Logan, C., DiCintio, M., & Thomas, C. (1998). Creating contexts for involvement in mathematics. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90, 730–745. Turner, J. C., Midgley, C., Meyer, D. K., Gheen, M., Anderman, E. A., Kang, J., & Patrick, H. (2002). The classroom environment and students’ reports of avoidance strategies in mathematics: A multi-method study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 88–106. Turner, J. C., & Patrick, H. (2004). Motivational influences on student participation in classroom learning activities. Teachers College Record, 106, 1759–1785. Turner, J. C., & Patrick, H. (2008). How does motivation develop and why does it change? Reframing motivation research. Educational Psychologist, 43, 119–131. Urdan, T., & Turner, J. C. (2005). Competence motivation in the classroom. In: A. J. Elliot & C. S. Dweck (Eds), Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 297–317). New York: The Guilford Press. Walker, R., Pressick-Kilborn, K., Sainsbury, E., & MacCallum, J. (2010). A sociocultural approach to motivation: A long time coming but here at last. In: T. C. Urdan & S. A. Karabenick (Eds), Advances in motivation and achievement (Vol. 16B, pp. 1–42). London: Emerald Press. Watt, H. M. G., & Richardson, P. W. (2008). Motivation for teaching. Learning and Instruction, 18, 405–407. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Wentzel, K. R. (1997). Student motivation in middle school: The role of perceived pedagogical caring. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 411–419.

CURRENT AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS IN TEACHER MOTIVATION RESEARCH Paul W. Richardson and Helen M. G. Watt1 INTRODUCTION Educational psychologists have, over the last half century or so, directed their attention to the study of student motivation. While teachers have not entirely been ignored, there has been little inquiry into teacher motivation that has been systematic and theory-driven. The concentration on students has tended to overlook the centrality of teacher motivations as integral to teachers’ goals, beliefs, perceptions, aspirations, and behaviours, and thereby to student motivations and learning. It is perhaps not surprising that those motivation researchers who have developed robust theories in relation to student learning in educational contexts would begin to turn their attention to teachers, to see whether those same theories might have explanatory power with regard to teacher motivations. Teacher self-efficacy research (e.g., Tschannen-Moran & Woolfolk Hoy, 2007; Woolfolk Hoy & Burke-Spero, 2005) has made important contributions to the study of teachers. Motivation researchers are now beginning to turn their attention to other aspects of the complex of motivational factors which demand greater attention and exploration. Robust theoretical frameworks already exist in the motivation literature, which can be applied to guide future research in this area.

The Decade Ahead: Applications and Contexts of Motivation and Achievement Advances in Motivation and Achievement, Volume 16B, 139–173 Copyright r 2010 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 0749-7423/doi:10.1108/S0749-7423(2010)000016B008




There has recently been a surge of interest, or what we have elsewhere described as a ‘‘Zeitgeist’’ (Watt & Richardson, 2008a) in applying welldeveloped theories in motivation research, to the domain of teaching. In the majority of Western countries, teaching as a career offers neither a high salary nor high social status, and yet, people continue to enrol in teacher education programs and to become teachers. At a time when other careers offer higher salaries, clearer pathways for career development, higher prestige and community respect, and more agreeable working conditions (see OECD, 2005; Ramsay, 2000), what is it that attracts people to teaching as a career? What motivates people to become teachers has been the subject of a considerable research endeavour with varied results. Renewed interest in this question has begun to provide more sophisticated, but by no means easy, answers. There is a need to better understand individuals’ motivations for choosing teaching as a career, how these motivations are formed, how they influence career decision-making, and how they are implicitly and explicitly tested in particular social and cultural settings. We are beginning to see that teachers’ initial motivations on entry to teacher education studies can have a profound impact on their level of career satisfaction, and plans to persist in the profession (Watt & Richardson, 2008b). We are also seeing that teachers’ goals, sense of professional autonomy, and enthusiasm for teaching, impact their students’ perceptions and behaviours (Butler, 2007; Butler & Shibaz, 2008; Kunter et al., 2008; Pelletier, Se´quin-Le´vesque, & Legault, 2002). Implications relate to effective career marketing and recruitment, and teacher education and curriculum development. In this chapter, we examine why teachers choose the profession, why they persist or leave it, what affects their work satisfaction, and how these relate to student outcomes. We outline some of the challenges in researching teacher motivations, and introduce our continuing program of research, designed to address many of these issues; research concerning teachers’ motivations for entering, undertaking, and persisting in the profession has hitherto not drawn upon the motivation literature in this intensive or systematic way. We conclude with implications for policy and practice, and a discussion of where teacher motivation research should progress in the next decade.

WHY DO TEACHERS ENTER THE PROFESSION? Research into what motivates people to take on teaching as a career has resulted in a steady flow of studies and reports from many countries around

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the world. A significant proportion of the research into teaching motivations over the last five decades has been conducted in the United States, which identified various forms, combinations, and rankings of motivations. A review of research conducted up until the early 1990s concluded that ‘‘altruistic, service-oriented goals and other intrinsic motivations are the source of the primary reasons entering teacher candidates report for why they chose teaching as a career’’ (Brookhart & Freeman, 1992, p. 46). Subsequently, studies conducted in France, Australia, Belgium (French Community), Canada (Que´bec), the Netherlands, the Slovak Republic, and the United Kingdom reported that the most frequently nominated reasons for choosing teaching are a desire to work with children and adolescents, the potential for intellectual fulfilment, and as a means by which to make a social contribution (OECD, 2005); the desire to work with children and adolescents has been identified as central in many other studies (e.g., Fox, 1961; Joseph & Green, 1986; Kyriacou & Coulthard, 2000; Lortie, 1975/ 2002; Tudhope, 1944; Valentine, 1934). On the other hand, studies from different sociocultural contexts such as Brunei (Yong, 1995), Zimbabwe (Chivore, 1988), Cameroon (Abangma, 1981), the Caribbean (Brown, 1992), and Jamaica (Bastick, 1999) have found ‘‘extrinsic motives’’ such as salary, job security, and career status, to be more important. Different sociocultural contexts, therefore, shape teaching motivations and need to be considered. The heterogeneous nature of the teaching workforce suggests that teachers will have different kinds of motivational profiles, which will result in varying responses to local school cultures. Motivation researchers have access to robust theoretical models and increasingly sophisticated tools for analysis that should encourage them to examine longitudinally what happens to different types of individuals with particular motivational profiles. For instance, we might expect to find that the most altruistic, highly motivated individuals do not necessarily fare the best in all school contexts, because they may be prone to high levels of responsibility, commitment, and overwork, and destined for career burnout (Kieschke & Schaarschmidt, 2008). We might equally expect that some individuals who enter into a teaching career with profiles characterised by highly pragmatic, extrinsic motivations may do very well in the profession without succumbing psychologically to the rigours of teaching, simply because they do not take on responsibility for more than they can manage. In our research we have identified different profiles of beginning teachers even at the outset of their teaching careers (Watt & Richardson, 2008b). It remains an open question as to which motivational profiles will produce the most psychologically robust teachers, and those who can be retained as effective teachers.



The question of what motivates teaching career choice needs to be tempered by the recognition that individuals do not always have ‘‘free choice’’ of their ideal career, and that they may be constrained by internal and external resources. The assumption that people are free to choose their career presupposes access to a suite of alternatives and the individual freedom to choose from among them. Such an assumption in relation to occupational choice has been regarded as rare, naı¨ ve, or even misguided (O¨zbilgin, Ku¨sku¨, & Erdog˘mus- , 2005), too easily ignoring the impact of labour market rigidities of supply and demand, persistent structural and institutionalised forms of discrimination and segregation, and cumulative influence of prior education and experience.

MOVEMENT INTO (AND OUT OF) THE TEACHING PROFESSION Teacher shortages followed by surpluses is a recurring pattern in many countries, including Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and a number of European countries (OECD, 2005). After World War II there were serious teacher shortages in many countries. The 1980s and early 1990s saw the arrival of a period of relative over-supply, which was followed by increased staffing problems in the current decade, for particular geographic regions and disciplinary specialisms. For instance, schools in regional, remote, and some inner urban areas have difficulty attracting and retaining teachers, and staffing shortfalls are most acute for the sciences, mathematics, foreign languages, and information and communication technologies. Studies from the United Kingdom indicate that 40% of those who enter teaching are no longer there after five years (Kyriacou & Kunc, 2007; Purcell, Wilton, Davies, & Elias, 2005); in the United States, up to 40% of new teachers in some school districts resign during their first two years (Brookover et al., 1978; Weiss, 1999), and one in five leaves within the first three years (Henke, Chen, & Geis, 2000; Johnson & Birkeland, 2003). Teachers who were recruited 30 years ago are now retiring, further impacting on shortages. While there is some variation across the 25 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a substantial proportion of the teaching workforce in each of those countries is over the age of 50 years (OECD, 2005). In 2001, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Census of Population and Housing, revealed that 42.7% of employed teachers were older than 45 years, with one-third aged between 45

Current and Future Directions in Teacher Motivation Research


and 54 years. These teachers are rapidly approaching retirement. Similarly, in the United States, the average retirement age of public elementary and secondary teachers is 59 years (OECD, 2004b), and a significant proportion of teachers is about to reach retirement age. In addition to general patterns of shortages, there have been significant changes in the particular proportions of males entering teaching. Over the last four decades, their number has steadily declined in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia, with more dramatic declines in primary/elementary education than secondary schooling (OECD, 2005). Even in secondary education, men have tended to concentrate in malestereotypic domains, such as science, mathematics, and technology, which will further exacerbate shortages in those domains when these teachers, who are already older, retire in the near future. A complex situation arises because fewer women are pursuing studies and careers in scientific and mathematical fields (see Watt & Eccles, 2008); yet the majority of teachers are female, which will compound teacher shortages in those domains. Salaries, employment conditions, the demands of teaching, and the social status of teachers (DEST, 2003; Liu, Kardos, Kauffman, Preske, & Johnson, 2000; Ramsay, 2000) have all been nominated as factors contributing to early career attrition. By contrast, teachers in Taiwan enjoy the rewards of a generous compensation package which includes lowinterest housing loans, free health and life insurance, paid maternity leave, a government-funded pension, and subsidised education for their children (Wang, 2004). They are also accorded community respect and high social status (Fwu & Wang, 2002). As a result, there is no shortage of wellqualified individuals wanting to be science teachers in Taiwan. Not all of the rewards of teaching are accounted for in strictly material terms, however. The availability of part-time and casual work, together with defined periods of leave during school vacation times, provides a high degree of career flexibility sought perhaps mainly by women seeking to spend time with their families. This would appear to be the case in a country like Germany, where of the almost 50% of primary school teachers who are employed on a part-time basis, 96% are female (Hala´sz, Santiago, Ekholm, Matthews, & McKenzie, 2004). Although initial motivations for choosing teaching as a career might remain quite stable over time, they may be quite different from motivations for remaining in teaching after two decades of service as a classroom teacher. As we have already noted, in most Western countries teaching does not offer a high salary or the compensation of high social status. The buying power of a teacher’s salary, comparisons with salaries of graduates who have similar



qualifications, and the potential for salary increases and career development over time are all of importance in attracting new people into the profession and in retaining experienced teachers. There is evidence that what can seem like a competitive salary at the beginning of a career can later be considered quite inadequate, when teachers have family responsibilities as a parent (see Kersaint, Lewis, Potter, & Meisels, 2007) or for aged parents and relatives. The attractiveness of teaching as a career choice is reactive to shifts in perceived public esteem resulting from negative representations of teachers and their work in the mass media, changes in political ideology and governance, and the availability of other jobs in the labour market. There are a number of challenges that may impinge on the decision processes of those considering teaching as a career. The prestige and public image of teachers and teaching has declined, which has been accompanied by a decline in young people’s interest in the career, and although initial salaries are competitive with some other professions, teacher salaries relative to per capita gross domestic product have also declined. In many countries in the OECD, salaries rapidly plateau after about 10 years, particularly if one has remained as a classroom teacher and not moved to a leadership position (OECD, 2005). If teachers are poorly paid, have low community prestige, and are subject to disagreeable working conditions, it is likely that fewer people will be attracted to teaching initially, and if they are recruited, will not necessarily persist in the job.

INFLUENCES ON TEACHERS’ WORK SATISFACTION Over the last two decades, governments in many developed countries have embraced the notion that national economic development, change, and success are dependent on a well-educated, highly literate, and numerate workforce. Rapid social and technological change and resultant changes in the nature of work have encouraged governments to take a greater interest in all aspects of schooling, and to especially focus on reforming and improving the quality of the teaching workforce. Teacher motivation and the context in which teachers work have been increasingly impacted by policy decisions developed and implemented through bureaucracies that audit, assess, and measure teaching practices. Teachers are positioned in these discourses as central to a country’s economic growth and national

Current and Future Directions in Teacher Motivation Research


development. For instance, a recent report from the OECD (2005, p. 18) involving 25 countries observed: Schooling provides the foundations for learning throughout life, and for individual and national development. As the most significant resource in schools, teachers are central to school improvement efforts. Improving the efficiency and equity of schooling depends, in large measure, on ensuring that competent people want to work as teachers, that their teaching is of high quality, and that all students have access to high-quality teaching.

At the same time, there is an abiding yet competing belief that education and social welfare are investment ‘‘black holes’’ that are expensive and not effective (Hargreaves, 1994). From this perspective, these are investment activities from which the state should progressively withdraw, to allow space for the entry of private capital and enterprise. We cannot ignore the incursion of government policies designed to manage and control the nature and structure of teachers’ work. There has been mounting pressure at the level of the state to regulate the nature and quality of teachers’ work through teacher certification and re-certification, placing high accountability demands on teachers and schools to be audited across various dimensions, particularly student learning outcomes, and improved quality of teaching and learning. These regimes of reform have not always resulted in the anticipated improved outcomes. A good example of the unanticipated negative impact of this type of reform agenda occurred in the United States over the last decade. Although ostensibly designed to ensure that all teachers would be ‘‘highly qualified’’ by 2006, the Federal legislation under the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act arguably worsened the educational experiences of the very children it was supposed to assist, further cementing the position of those already advantaged socially, economically, and educationally (see Glass, 2008). There is mounting evidence that these policy reforms have impacted significantly on how teachers carry out their work, and undermined the resolve and work satisfaction of many (in the case of the United States see Hursh, 2005; McNeil, 1985, 1988, 2000; Nichols, Glass, & Berliner, 2006; Rex & Nelson, 2004). Coincident with the desire on the part of governments around the globe to improve the quality of teachers and teaching, there is the increasing complexity of what teachers are expected to do and know, and greater diversity of the school students they teach (OECD, 2005). It seems inevitable that researchers who are interested in teachers, teacher education, and teaching will need to keep alive the notion that teaching as work has, over the last couple of decades, become increasingly more difficult, demanding, and subject to greater scrutiny and external controls. The multidimensional



character of the teacher’s role, and the increasingly complex skills set a teacher is expected to bring, embraces social, behavioural, civic, economic, and technological dimensions (OECD, 2005). Within the multicultural context of a country like Australia, particularly in the larger cities, the teacher’s role is likely to require engagement with young people, families, and communities holding values and beliefs that are very different from those held by many teachers, who are culturally different, with diverse expectations, aspirations, and ambitions. Unsurprisingly, the context in which teachers work impacts their satisfaction or brings them grief, influences their commitment, and whether they are willing to persist in the profession. Multiple dimensions of the school context such as supervisory support, time pressure, relations with parents, and autonomy, interact to impact teachers’ job satisfaction and job burnout (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2009). A ‘‘supportive work environment’’ has been found to be highly important in teachers’ decisions whether to stay or move to another school (Johnson, Kardos, Kauffman, Liu, & Donaldson, 2004). In some school contexts, the relationships forged between teachers, the principal, and students, help militate against the effects of accountability measures that potentially threaten levels of job satisfaction (see Noll, 2007). Teachers are more satisfied and less fatigued if they feel supported by parents and the school administration, if student behaviour and the school atmosphere are pleasant, and if they perceive a degree of autonomy in carrying out their work (see Mu¨ller, Alliata, & Benninghoff, 2009, p. 581). In contrast, there is an increase in the physical and psychological costs to teachers, if they experience difficulties in building relationships with students and their parents; are subject to numerous pedagogical, organisational, and technological reforms; experience increased administrative tasks at the expense of teaching; and perceive a loss to the profession’s positive image (Mu¨ller et al., 2009, p. 581). As the nature of teachers’ work has changed, there is an increasing disjuncture between why people choose to teach and the nature of the work they are required to perform. People who choose teaching because they are motivated by working with people, and especially young people, will presumably experience lower levels of work engagement and satisfaction if their daily work involves them less and less in relational encounters with youth. Measures which increase teacher accountability, and provide comparative data for students’ achievement on standardised tests, have brought significant changes to teachers’ work. While we know that working with children and adolescents is a consistently strongly endorsed reason for wanting to be a teacher (see Lortie, 1975/2002; Richardson & Watt, 2006; Watt & Richardson, 2008b), teachers are now required to perform tasks that reduce opportunities for teacher–student interactions. Researchers may well

Current and Future Directions in Teacher Motivation Research


want to examine more carefully how the impact of policies designed to ‘‘improve’’ the quality of education potentially serve to undermine the motivations of those who most wanted to teach when they entered into teacher education (see Beck, 2009 for a discussion of the restructuring of teacher professionalism in England).

STUDENT OUTCOMES Teachers who are more motivated provide greater autonomy support to their students (Pelletier et. al., 2002). Just as ‘‘students could become less self-determined when exposed to controlling teachers y when teachers are pressured by the school’s administration or by colleagues to behave in a specific manner, they also indicate that they are less self-determined toward their work’’ (Pelletier, 2002, p. 193). In turn, teachers who are less selfdetermined towards their teaching are more controlling with their students, which impacts negatively on students’ intrinsic motivation and sense of autonomy (Reeve, Bolt, & Cai, 1999). Policies designed to improve teacher practice and teacher quality may, through the processes of operationalisation and implementation, promote more controlling teachers, and students who are less autonomous and motivated. Important new research has begun to show a link between teachers’ achievement goals, patterns of communication and behaviour in the classroom, and students’ resultant learning and achievement outcomes (Butler, 2007; Butler & Shibaz, 2008). Based on self- and student reports, other researchers have found that teachers who are more enthusiastic about teaching demonstrate higher quality instructional behaviour, in the form of learning situations that are challenging yet supportive for students (Kunter et al., 2008). These lines of inquiry should be vigorously pursued by motivation researchers. As a result of an extensive review of the literature seeking to arrive at the profile of highly competent teachers, Hattie (2003) concluded that these are teachers who can: identify essential representations of their subject, based on how they organize and use their content knowledge; guide learning through classroom interactions by creating optimal classroom environments; monitor student learning and provide feedback; promote effective outcomes through the manner in which they treat students, and their passion for teaching and learning; and influence student outcomes by engaging students, providing challenging tasks and goals, and enhancing ‘‘deep’’ learning or understanding. (Cited in OECD, 2005, p. 101)

This is indeed a formidable skill set that nonetheless does not take into account other skills and abilities such as effective communication with



parents, collaboration with colleagues, developed skills with new information and communication technologies, and working in teams, that are often identified by teacher accreditation and registration authorities.

CHALLENGES IN RESEARCHING TEACHER MOTIVATION For research to effectively tap the underlying psychological processes concerning motivations for choosing to become a teacher, there is a need for robust measures, founded upon explicit theoretical frameworks, to encompass a comprehensive set of motivations. Previous research has lacked consistency, and, at times, provided little agreement about what exactly constitutes ‘‘intrinsic,’’ ‘‘altruistic,’’ and ‘‘extrinsic’’ motivations. As a result of definitional imprecision in the operationalisation of constructs and terms, producing unclear and overlapping categorisations, it has not been possible to compare findings from different studies, or across sociocultural contexts. Validation information on survey instruments used in studies has frequently not been reported, and the survey instruments not provided. In reporting of results there has been an over-reliance on raw frequency counts drawn from opportune samples, and rankings of identified themes rather than more sophisticated and robust methods of analysis, and research has tended to be empirically rather than theoretically driven, lacking a comprehensive and integrative framework. Career development by definition encompasses events and processes that predate and extend beyond initial career choice (Lent, 2001, p. 218). The scarcity of theory-driven and programmatic research in this area impedes the development of a coherent knowledge base to inform interventions. The volume of work that has been produced needs to be matched by sensitivity to ‘‘theoretically grounded, methodologically tight, and programmatically sustained’’ work (Lent, 2001, p. 215), which moves beyond the notion that teaching is a ‘‘calling’’ and takes seriously the range of relevant motivations in relation to the highly demanding, complex nature of the job. A challenge for motivation researchers is to examine how teachers’ motivations vary across contexts and across the professional life span, as well as how motivations are framed, shaped, and constrained by experiences during teacher education. A recent cross-sectional study in the United Kingdom (Day et al., 2006) identified six phases of teachers’ professional lives, which provide a useful heuristic. During phase one (zero to three years of experience) teacher motivation and commitment were buoyed by receiving

Current and Future Directions in Teacher Motivation Research


the support of school and departmental leaders, whereas experiences of poor pupil behaviour resulted in lowered levels of motivation. In phase two (four to seven years), the most important demotivating factor was the management of heavy workloads. Teachers who had been teaching for 8–15 years (phase three), who had an eye to career progression and were in positions of responsibility, reported this as a positive impact on their motivation. By phase four (16–23 years) a combination of career advancement and good student results positively impacted motivation, but these were offset by negative factors such as lack of support in school, feelings of career stagnation, poor pupil behaviour, additional school responsibilities, management of heavy workloads, demands outside of school, and a struggle to achieve work–life balance. After 24–30 years of teaching (phase 5), bad pupil behaviour and perceived lack of support in the school were the most important reasons for loss of motivation and commitment. In the final phase (phase six, 31 years or more) teachers were responsive to evidence of student progress and sustained by positive teacher–pupil relations, but were increasingly affected by personal health issues and experienced negative reactions to changing government policies and poor pupil behaviour. It is an open question, and one worthy of the attention of motivational researchers, whether these phases can be replicated across other samples using longitudinal data. Supporting evidence is provided by the results of another study of secondary teacher education students in England who were surveyed at the beginning and end of their PGC year, a sample of whom was followed up during their first two years of teaching. There were four major factors that influenced levels of commitment to teaching: ‘‘school management (particularly the degree to which senior staff in the school were seen to be supportive); time pressures (specifically a feeling that there was not time enough to do the work demanded to an acceptable standard); pupil behavior (and in particular the degree the teacher was able to experience and enjoy pupils’ successes as against a feeling that pupils were badly behaved and disaffected); and having a happy private life (prominently, a concern about the extent to which workload encroached unacceptably into much of the time for their private life)’’ (Kyriacou & Kunc, 2007, p. 1253). These factors point to the link between teachers’ work and their lives more generally, an observation made by earlier researchers (e.g., Lortie, 1975/2002). In summary, teachers’ motivations have implications for their continuing career development. They relate to how teachers approach the complexities, challenges, disappointments, and rewards of teaching; and affect professional plans, well-being, and behaviours and, consequently, student outcomes. Research is sorely needed which studies the same teachers longitudinally



from the outset of their careers, to examine the processes by which their motivations impact a range of important outcomes, such as work satisfaction, persistence in the profession, psychological well-being, and student engagement and learning. We also need to examine whether and how teacher motivations develop over the long term. Such work needs to be strongly theoretically grounded, to collect data using robust measures, and to consider developmental trajectories for different types of teachers, from a range of school contexts.

A PROGRAM OF RESEARCH STUDYING TEACHER MOTIVATIONS An integrated theoretical approach to the study of teacher motivations is offered by our ‘‘FIT-Choice’’ (Factors Influencing Teaching Choice; continuing program of research, which has been guided by expectancy-value theory (Eccles et al., 1983; Eccles, 2005), to focus on motivations for the choice of becoming a teacher (e.g., Richardson & Watt, 2006; Watt & Richardson, 2007, 2008b), and by possible selves theory, to explore teachers’ future occupational envisioning, and intentions to persist within the profession. The FIT-Choice Scale was developed to assess the primary motivations of teachers to teach, and has been demonstrated to be psychometrically sound, thereby yielding reliable findings (Watt & Richardson, 2007). The FIT-Choice model taps both the ‘‘altruistic’’-type motivations that have been emphasised in the teacher education literature (e.g., Book & Freeman, 1986; Brown, 1992; Lortie, 1975/2002; Moran, Kilpatrick, Abbott, Dallatt, & McClune, 2001; Serow & Forrest, 1994) and more personally utilitarian motivations, intrinsic motivations, and abilityrelated beliefs. Our framework also taps individuals’ perceptions about the demand and reward aspects of the teaching profession, and contains a measure of career satisfaction and commitment. We have provided a review elsewhere (Watt & Richardson, 2007) of how our FIT-Choice factors, summarised in Fig. 1, map onto expectancy-value theory, social cognitive career theory (SCCT; see Lent, Lopez, & Bieschke, 1993), and key findings within the existing teacher education literature. It was neither obvious nor trivial to speculate about the kinds of expectancies and values we should expect to be most salient, whether results would reflect or challenge prevailing stereotypes regarding motives for choosing teaching, and by extension the kind of people who enter the profession. Current stereotypes include the choice of teaching as a


Fig. 1.

FIT-Choice Theoretical Model.

Current and Future Directions in Teacher Motivation Research



family-flexible career, for highly altruistic motivations, and as a ‘‘fallback’’ career. Our initial research with a large sample of 1,653 Australian teacher education students (Richardson & Watt, 2006) showed that the highest rated teaching motivations on entry to teacher education included intrinsic value and perceived teaching abilities – the major predictors of choices within the expectancy-value framework which framed our theoretical model – as well as positive prior teaching and learning experiences, and ‘‘altruistic-type’’ social utility values (i.e., shape the future of children/adolescents, enhance social equity, make social contribution, and work with children/adolescents; Richardson & Watt, 2006), which have predominated prior research. Other measured motivations that were less influential included social influences, personal utility values (i.e., job security, time for family, and job transferability), and choosing teaching as a ‘‘fallback’’ career (Fig. 2). Beginning teachers’ motivations demonstrated significant correlations with their planned persistence (see Watt & Richardson, 2007). Ability beliefs, intrinsic value, social utility values, and positive prior teaching and learning motivations all correlated positively with later planned persistence. Unsurprisingly, choosing teaching as a fallback career correlated negatively. We had not, however, anticipated that personal utility values (job security, transferability, and time for family) would be inversely related to planned persistence. Such findings resonate with earlier untested claims that these motivations are somehow ‘‘unworthy’’ (e.g., Yong, 1995). Individuals who chose a career in teaching on the basis of job security or job transferability were later both less likely to plan to persist and less likely to be satisfied with their career choice; those who chose teaching because it provided time for family were also less likely to be satisfied with their career choice. This pattern was similar for planned effort, professional development, leadership aspirations, and career choice satisfaction (see Watt & Richardson, 2007). Consequently, motivations for teaching indeed relate to subsequent professional engagement and career development aspirations – showing positive relationships, except for personal utility values, and the choice of teaching as a fallback career.

Are there Different Types of Beginning Teachers? It would seem a reasonable expectation that prospective teachers would have different career trajectories in mind from the very outset. We have developed an empirical typology among qualifying teachers based on their exit levels of professional engagement and career development aspirations

Current and Future Directions in Teacher Motivation Research

Fig. 2.


FIT-Choice Motivation Factor Mean Scores for the Choice of a Teaching Career (Based on Full Australian Sample, N ¼ 1,653).



(measured by the PECDA Scale; Watt & Richardson, 2008b). Three clusters were statistically and theoretically supported for all four factors; the first, ‘‘highly engaged persisters’’ (45%), gave the highest ratings. We named this group the ‘‘highly engaged persisters.’’ The majority (84%) declared that they wanted to spend their whole career in teaching. Their open-ended comments foregrounded highly salient reasons, most frequently related to a passion for and enjoyment of teaching, which they saw as satisfying, varied, and interesting. A related theme was that teaching was a ‘‘dream ambition,’’ a vocation, or calling. Their enthusiasm for the intrinsic rewards of teaching was captured by such comments as: ‘‘Intrinsic satisfaction,’’ ‘‘I love teaching students,’’ ‘‘Because it is interesting and has varied tasks,’’ ‘‘It’s my calling,’’ ‘‘I am passionate about teaching and know I can be beneficial to students,’’ and ‘‘We contribute to something worthwhile.’’ This cluster also included people who had chosen teaching because it both offered a satisfying career and supported their aspirations for family life including care of their own children. Teaching allowed them the means by which to meet their career goals without sacrificing their quality family life, for example: ‘‘It is a career that is satisfying, fulfilling and suits family situation’’ and ‘‘Fits in with family as well as career goals.’’ There were also those who were sure that on making a career switch in favour of teaching they had finally found an occupation that fitted comfortably with their goals and ambitions. They were well aware that the financial rewards from teaching are not very great; it remains to be determined whether the less tangible rewards will be sufficient to compensate for this. The ‘‘highly engaged switchers’’ cluster (27%) responses were similar to the first cluster, except on persistence, where this group scored significantly lower. These individuals were more likely to indicate they had career plans other than spending their whole career in teaching. Many were already contemplating another career path as they completed their teacher education program, which they may have been contemplating prior to their entry, and were able to clearly articulate their reason for not wanting to stay in teaching. Their timeframes ranged from ‘‘now’’ to 15 years. This cluster drew together people who knew they needed new challenges over the course of their career and therefore sought to be involved in a diversity of occupations. They are perhaps best described as ‘‘restless spirits,’’ who need new challenges and a variety of experiences. A further theme was the identification of a ‘‘five-year plan’’ for their career development, by which time they hoped to have positioned themselves to exit from teaching. It is not surprising that people who in the longer term were seeking careers in the entertainment industry and as visual artists (painters, photographers, and

Current and Future Directions in Teacher Motivation Research


designers) were also looking to secure a reliable income stream, while attempting to establish themselves in those careers. For others, simply keeping their options open was more important than foreclosing on teaching as a career for life. For this group, teaching would equip them with the skills and experiences that could be applied in other domains and contexts outside of school classrooms, as a ‘‘stepping stone’’ into other professions. While many indicated a desire to continue working with children and adolescents, this would not be in classroom contexts. It is noteworthy that a substantial number in this group did not undertake a teacher education program intending to remain in teaching for their whole career. On the contrary, their intention had always been to not persist in teaching. While they planned to be as effortful and engaged and to do as good a job as those who wanted their whole career to be in teaching (Cluster 1), they then planned to move on to another career. The third cluster, ‘‘lower engaged desisters’’ (28%), exhibited significantly lower scores on all four factors. Although their mean scores on planned effort and professional development aspirations were quite high, they were significantly lower than those for the other two clusters, and their mean scores for planned persistence and leadership aspirations were low relative to both the scale and the other clusters. This cluster was the least likely to persist in teaching, and offered many reasons as to why. The sources of their disaffection were varied and stemmed in a minority of cases from unpleasant experiences at university and ‘‘bad practicum experiences.’’ Others reported teaching had proved too demanding – it was ‘‘too much work’’ and schools provided ‘‘too little administrative support.’’ As a result of these types of observations, they felt they would ‘‘not have enough energy when older,’’ would become ‘‘jaded,’’ and quickly suffer from career burnout. Comments such as ‘‘children don’t value education’’ and ‘‘it does not suit my needs – the preparation and class management issues’’ point to experiences during the course of their teacher education program that took on a negative valence in relation to their tenure in teaching. While the first themed set of comments from this cluster was concerned with the demands of the career, a second theme focused on the paucity of career prospects and rewards. A number of individuals made the observation that they would receive more ‘‘pay & respect’’ and better ‘‘career progression’’ by working in other fields such as IT, business management, and consulting. The comments ‘‘it takes too long to get a full time job!’’ and ‘‘teaching is not very stable’’ seem to point to the frustrations graduates experience in shuffling between a range of schools, making a sometimes very insecure living undertaking substitute and relief teaching



work, before they can secure full-time employment. Given that members of this cluster generally had higher qualifications and a range of previous occupations, they may be attracted away from teaching and into other careers where their teaching qualification adds to their marketable skills set. For some, teaching was not their ‘‘first option.’’ Careers as research scientists and in the academy, together with further education and eventual careers in psychology and sports psychology, were more attractive. As with Cluster 2, this cluster consisted of people who looked upon teaching as a ‘‘stepping stone’’ into other careers. Although they may have enjoyed ‘‘children and teaching,’’ they observed that they needed change and variety in their life and did not want ‘‘to be stuck’’ in a career that from their perspective lacked ‘‘flexibility.’’

Teaching Motivations for Differing Teacher Subtypes The three different types of beginning teachers exhibited different patterns of initial motivations for having chosen teaching as a career. As anticipated, the ‘‘highly engaged persisters’’ scored significantly highest on intrinsic and social utility values (shape future of children/adolescents, enhance social equity, make social contribution, and work with children/adolescents), whereas ‘‘lower engaged desisters’’ scored significantly lowest. ‘‘Highly engaged switchers’’ scored in between for intrinsic value and some social utility value factors (shape future of children/adolescents and work with children/adolescents), and similarly high to the highly engaged persisters for the others (enhance social equity and make social contribution). Highly engaged persisters were the least motivated to teach by the negative ‘‘fallback’’ career factor, but more highly motivated to teach on the basis of their perceived teaching abilities, than either of the other clusters. Highly engaged persisters and switchers were equally more motivated by having experienced positive teaching and learning experiences than were the lower engaged desisters. There were no significant cluster differences on any of the personal utility values (job security, time for family, and job transferability). The motivations that related most strongly to high initial career satisfaction included the altruistic-type motivations most frequently emphasised in the teacher education literature, the intrinsic value individuals attached to teaching, and self-evaluations of their teaching-related skills (Watt & Richardson, 2007) – on all of which the highly engaged persisters scored highest and lower engaged desisters lowest. At the point of graduation from teacher education, ‘‘highly engaged persisters’’ had

Current and Future Directions in Teacher Motivation Research


increased in their satisfaction with the choice of teaching as a career; ‘‘highly engaged switchers’’ exhibited no change in satisfaction through the course of their teacher education, and ‘‘lower engaged desisters’’ became less satisfied with their choice of a teaching career through their degree. Given the robust size of that cluster it is important to question why they became disaffected through their teacher education experiences, and what will happen once they enter the profession, if indeed they do. The seemingly positive profile for highly engaged persisters requires longitudinal data to ascertain whether their positive motivations are able to be realised in their school contexts, and what the consequences are if not. The trajectories for highly engaged switchers, who also scored high on several of the positive motivations, are of interest, particularly whether their professional engagement and aspirations may increase as a consequence of their workplace experiences.

Do Motivations Change for Teacher Subtypes in their First Five Years? Establishing that there are differing types of beginning teachers, whose initial motivations for the choice of teaching as a career differ, begs the question – what happens to their motivations when ‘‘the rubber hits the road?’’ It was thus important to determine whether, and the extent to which, teacher motivations changed over time, and whether the changes varied by teacher subtypes. In a five-year follow-up (Watt & Richardson, 2010), we sought to address three questions related to changes in teacher motivation: To what extent do teaching motivations change over the critical first five years of teaching? Do motivations change differentially for teacher subtypes? Are changes associated with changing career choice satisfaction, and planned persistence in the teaching profession? The first five years have been identified as a critical period, within which large attrition occurs. We found that, in general, teaching motivations were predominantly stable from teacher education until five years later. Where changes occurred, they varied by teacher subtypes. There were no significant changes for the highly engaged persisters, highly engaged switchers decreased on the motivations of job security and to make a social contribution, and lower engaged desisters increased on the motivations of job flexibility and the desire to enhance social equity. Initial elevated planned persistence for highly engaged persisters markedly declined to the same level as for the other clusters (Fig. 3(a)). Similarly, for career choice satisfaction, highly engaged persisters’ high scores declined to the same level as for the other clusters (Fig. 3(b)).



Fig. 3(a). Changes in Planned Persistence for Each Teacher Type (c1: Highly Engaged Persisters; c2: Highly Engaged Switchers; c3: Lower Engaged Desisters).

Fig. 3(b). Changes in Career Choice Satisfaction for Each Teacher Type (c1: Highly Engaged Persisters; c2: Highly Engaged Switchers; c3: Lower Engaged Desisters).

Current and Future Directions in Teacher Motivation Research


Interestingly, stable motivations for the ‘‘highly engaged persisters’’ were associated with declining career choice satisfaction and planned persistence; conversely, changing motivations for the other two clusters related to stable satisfaction and persistence scores. This raises questions concerning the ‘‘fit’’ and also the realism of motivations and aspirations in response to the multiple demands of being a teacher – which may come as a shock for those entering into teaching with naı¨ ve understanding of its role complexity, associated emotional and time demands, or teaching in contexts which are mismatched to their motivations and aspirations.

Teacher Identity and Possible Selves In a recent article, Alexander (2008, p. 484) observed that certain types of people are ‘‘drawn to the teaching profession’’ from which they ‘‘experience varying levels of success and varying degrees of personal fulfillment or satisfaction.’’ Further, she described teaching as challenging, with the sources of those challenges being both ‘‘external and internal.’’ While we acknowledge that external challenges are influential in early career teacher attrition, there are additional internal challenges, such as those represented by hoped-for teacher selves which, if not realisable, may produce lower levels of career satisfaction, professional commitment, and the decision to leave the profession. ‘‘Possible selves’’ refer to how individuals think about the selves they most want to become, and those they fear becoming. They represent individuals’ ‘‘cognitive manifestations of enduring goals, aspirations, motives, fears, threats’’ (Markus & Nurius, 1987, p. 158). According to the original definition, possible selves operate as incentives, which guide behaviour by exercising a moderating effect on the self. They are focused on the personalised meaning of future states and actions, and not on more universal beliefs about hopes and fears (Markus & Nurius, 1987). Feared selves take on a motivational force when balanced by hoped-for selves to provide the individual with incentives for behaviour (Markus & Ruvolo, 1989). This implies that the motivation conferred by possible selves is cumulative – their combined effect is greater than that of either hoped-for or feared selves alone. Possible selves theory has been fruitfully applied in a variety of domains including adolescent motivation, counselling, adult life span development, adult education, and vocational counselling. Researchers and practitioners in vocational counselling have been attracted to the theory in that it addresses aspects of how people make decisions about the person they want



to be in the context of work. Those who choose teaching as a career bring to their decision-making an array of positive and negative role models experienced during their years of schooling through exposure to many different teachers, from which they fashion an intuitive knowledge of a teacher’s working life. The type of teacher they hope to be, and the teacher they fear being, is likely to also be constructed from their prior experiences of teaching and learning with particular teachers, the distillation of positive and negative teaching and learning experiences over the course of their own schooling, and their experiences in staffrooms, classrooms, and schools during teacher education and on commencing teaching. We would expect these possible teacher selves to be dynamic, sensitive to context, and related to career satisfaction and persistence. Becoming a teacher involves identity work that is challenging as well as potentially disruptive to other aspects of a person’s life, to the point where, in some cases, professional satisfaction and persistence may be tested. We were especially interested in the tensions that may emerge during the first few years in the profession, when beginning teachers find themselves within particular school and community environments that may be congruent or incongruent with their own orientations. The future-focused orientation of possible selves theory led us to expect that hoped-for and feared teacher selves are likely to be developed and clarified as a result of the experiences and challenges of working within particular school contexts with teacher colleagues who are a source of both positive and negative models, and in school environments where they are presaged into being the teacher they do not want to be, resulting in self-schema dissonance and distress. In a follow-up of teachers from our full FIT-Choice sample, we sought to explore the mechanism and processes by which participants’ hoped-for and feared teacher selves impact a range of teaching-related outcomes (Richardson & Watt, 2008, 2009). We found that beginning teachers had a developed sense of both the type of teacher they most hoped to be and the type they most feared becoming; identified demographic, school contextual, and internal sources of those selves; and consequent relationships with several behavioural and affective teaching-related outcomes. Overall, actual teaching selves were rated more congruent with hoped-for than feared selves, which were themselves not directly opposites. Congruence did not depend on gender, primary/secondary teaching, undergraduate/graduateentry teacher qualification, or school socioeconomic status. Feared self-enactment related to perceived school and skills/abilitiesrelated barriers to goals, and remote school location. In contrast, hoped-for self-enactment related only to skills/abilities-related barriers. Seemingly,

Current and Future Directions in Teacher Motivation Research


internal resources are deployed in the attainment of the hoped-for self, while more disparate influences affect feared self-enactment, associated with internal and also situational factors. This helps us to locate ‘‘levers for change’’ – it is likely to be easier to change the situation, than to change the person. Hoped-for self-enactment correlated significantly and positively with a range of measured affective indicators (satisfaction, liking, demand, and stressfulness) and behavioural indicators (current goal achievement, and planned persistence and effort), but negatively with perceived demand and stressfulness. The opposite pattern of relationships occurred for feared self-enactment. In general, relationships were stronger for hoped-for than feared self-enactment and with satisfaction and liking outcomes. The pattern of correlations for discrepancy scores between hoped-for and feared self-enactment was similar to that for hoped-for self-congruence, but, importantly, appeared stronger than those for the independent effects of hoped-for and feared selves, indicating their joint salience and importance. Beginning teachers indeed hold both hoped-for and feared possible teacher selves. Their negative moderate correlation indicates that teachers can be like both, or unlike both (Fig. 4). Feared and hoped-for enactments each matter, because they individually relate to a range of important affective and behavioural outcomes. Further, possible selves operate in concert, in terms of the discrepancy between the feared and hoped-for. An individual who regards herself as highly like her hoped-for teacher self and highly unlike her feared teacher self will have more positive outcomes than another person who regards himself as highly like both his hoped-for and feared teacher selves. Hoped-for, feared, and current teacher selves thus constitute a dynamic, complex system that operates to exert motivational force in relation to a range of affective and behavioural teaching outcomes. Possible selves theory provides a new perspective on self-focused future-orientated motivations which impact teachers’ perceived goal achievement, perceived demand and stressfulness, satisfaction and liking, and planned effort and persistence.

IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICY AND PRACTICE It is important for teacher education to recognise that ‘‘one size does not fit all’’ and that carefully tailored programs may be necessary to match motivational profiles with school contexts. If sufficient numbers of wellqualified, effective teachers are to stay in the profession, it may well be that


Fig. 4.


Relationships between Attainment of Hoped-for vs. Feared Teacher Selves (rho ¼ .41).

different career pathways and structures need to be identified and developed. However, simply regulating teacher professional development and legislating hours of professional ‘‘renewal’’ necessary for reaccreditation does not necessarily promote teacher professional development, encourage higher teacher quality, or address the issues of teacher well-being. The very complexity of teaching, the psychological demands on those engaged in it, and its stressfulness (Stoeber & Rennert, 2008) require that greater attention be paid to the curriculum of teacher education programs, which have traditionally focused on curriculum and pedagogy. It is our contention that too little is provided in teacher education programs to prepare beginning teachers for dealing with the stressors in undertaking the relational work central to their occupation.

Current and Future Directions in Teacher Motivation Research


In recent times in Australia we have seen the development of the Teach for Australia program, a program of teacher training founded on Teach for America. This program selects talented and motivated graduates, provides a six-week period of intensive training, and then appoints these ‘‘new’’ teachers to hard-to-staff schools. It seems extremely optimistic that these graduates will fare any better than similarly trained Teach for America graduates in the United States, or that they will produce better achievement scores and outcomes with children and adolescents (see Darling-Hammond, Holtzman, Gatlin, & Heilig, 2005). It is also of concern that they are likely to have few resources with which to sustain themselves psychologically, emotionally, and physically in dealing with the stressors which teachers experience as part of their job, which can have debilitating health consequences for those who are insufficiently prepared. If anything, we need to reflect not only on the success of the Finnish schooling system in producing consistently stellar results in comparative international surveys such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), but also on their model of teacher education which adopts a research-based approach and aims to develop teachers who are skilled in using research in their ongoing teaching and decision-making. In Finland, the teaching profession is held in high regard, attracts students with high levels of academic achievement, and requires teachers to graduate with a Master’s degree (Tryggvason, 2009). A longitudinal study of teacher education candidates in Finland has shown how their teaching and learning goals change over the course of a four-year program (Malmberg, 2008). Shorter programs of teacher preparation such as Teach for America/Australia may quickly address a teacher shortage, but policy-makers and employing authorities need to be careful they are not creating intractable longer term welfare and health problems among those who are most motivated to try teaching as a career with little more than a smattering of pedagogical and curriculum advice. Researchers need to address the psychological supports that beginning teachers need to sustain their ‘‘fitness to practice.’’ In a substantial study conducted in Germany among different kinds of professionals (teachers, police, firefighters, aged-care workers, nurses, entrepreneurs, social workers, childcare professionals, and penitentiary workers), researchers identified four coping behaviour types: ‘‘healthy ambitious,’’ ‘‘unambitious,’’ ‘‘excessively ambitious,’’ and ‘‘resigned.’’ Their findings led them to recommend that teachers need to be given more autonomy in their work to allow for selfdetermined professional goals, excessive demands from overwhelming educational tasks that are completed alone need to be minimised, and teachers need



clearer separation of life at school and leisure time; school tasks often undertaken in the evening and on weekends allow little opportunity for emotional distancing, recovery, and regeneration. They also expressed concern about the consequences of regimentation and external interference in teaching. In relation to the preparation of teachers, they emphasised the need for teacher education to equip beginning teachers with effective coping strategies for everyday occupational problems, and the capability to effectively self-manage stressful situations (Kieschke & Schaarschmidt, 2008). In the education and training of clinical psychologists, considerable attention is devoted to these issues; it may well be that teachers require similar training in strategies to support and protect themselves psychologically and emotionally, if the pattern of burnout and early career attrition is to be broken. While mentoring programs for beginning teachers have been introduced in many countries around the globe, their levels of success in supporting and sustaining new teachers have been patchy as a result of inappropriate mentor matches, and low levels of appropriate mentor and mentee interaction and support (see Kardos & Johnson, 2010; Wang & Odell, 2002). Our particular program of research addresses several core issues: Why choose the career of being a teacher? Why do people stay in the job, burnout, or leave? How do motivations intersect with sociocultural factors to impact teachers’ professional development and personal well-being? What types of profiles are evident in teachers’ career trajectories? This design requires following the same individuals over a period of time, to tease out the shorter and longer term consequences of choosing teaching as a career, and how different types of preservice teachers fare in particular school and community settings over time. This interest in teacher motivations is timely; they predict to teacher supply and development, with implications for current teacher shortages, mentoring, and support. Why people choose teaching, why they stay in the profession or not, and their professional identity development all are critical issues in the current climate of teacher shortages and concern regarding teacher quality, with implications for policy-makers, employers, and teacher educators.

TEACHER MOTIVATION RESEARCH – WHERE TO NEXT? Those interested in teacher motivation are not beginning with a blank slate. Theoretical lenses from the motivation literature (e.g., expectancy-value theory, achievement goal theory, self-determination theory, and possible

Current and Future Directions in Teacher Motivation Research


selves theory) equip us to develop fresh insights into teachers’ motivations for choosing to enter the teaching profession, their professional engagement and career development aspirations, future occupational envisioning, and influences on student motivation and learning. The range of robust motivation theories, developed research methodologies, and increasingly sophisticated modes of analysis invite us to research new questions we were not previously able to adequately address, as well as enduring questions concerning teacher motivation: What motivates people to choose teaching as a career? What happens to their initial motivations after they enter into the profession? Why do some people leave teaching within a few short years? What keeps teachers engaged and enthusiastic about their work? What leads to teacher exhaustion and burnout? These questions demand large-scale, long-term, longitudinal data, collected in multiple waves, multiple data sources, consideration of different types of teachers, the consequences of teacher motivations, and serious attention to the environments within which teachers work. In these endeavours, it will be important for teacher motivation research to dialogue with the extant teacher education literature, and other relevant domains of educational and developmental psychology. In this section, we elaborate on the six main directions we perceive for future directions in teacher motivation research.

Large-scale, Multiwave, Long-term, Longitudinal Datasets Only longitudinal research can examine the mediating processes between background characteristics, motivations, and outcomes. It is only with longitudinal data that it is possible to test the impact of earlier influences, how processes unfold over time, and produce outcomes of interest. We need studies which recruit participants at the outset of their teacher education, and follow them through their professional life. Large-scale studies permit the kinds of analyses that are now available to researchers as a result of advances in statistical methods. Single timepoint or small-scale studies do not allow us to address questions concerned with career trajectories, and the relationship between career motivations, aspirations, and outcomes, or ‘‘fit’’ with workplace environments. If we are to identify the antecedents of teacher burnout and attrition, and examine questions of cause and effect, we need longitudinal designs which contain multiple occasions of measurement, to be able to detect the nuances of development. Designs are needed of the scope conducted by Wilhelm, Dewhurst-Savellis, and Parker (2000), who studied 156 teachers



over 25 years, to disentangle the personal and contextual factors contributing to their stress and career attrition.

Multiple Data Sources Self-report surveys provide a useful approach to collecting data about individuals’ perceptions, but are less useful as a tool to collect data on objective outcomes. There has been something of an over-reliance on selfreport surveys in the motivation literature, and multiple data sources and informants are required for research to engage with the full complexity of the antecedents, development, and outcomes of teacher motivations. Self-report qualitative interviews, framed within a larger study design, could illuminate processes and individual particularities, for theoretically important types of teachers, structured observations (e.g., Pianta et al., 2005) could objectively measure the motivational elements of teachers’ instruction and consequent levels of student motivation, and student surveys could offer complementary perspectives to teachers’ own views of classroom motivational climate.

Different Types of Teachers Teachers represent a large and heterogeneous workforce. Given the scale and heterogeneity, we might expect that some individuals are better suited than others to the rigours and stressors of teaching. Continued attention to different types of teachers, such as those having different motivational profiles identified in the FIT-Choice study (Watt & Richardson, 2008b), and those with different profiles of coping behaviour (Kieschke & Schaarschmidt, 2008), will allow us to focus on substantively interesting subgroups, whose functioning may not be adequately represented by the average. It remains to be seen whether and how distinct types of teachers adapt differentially to their professional contexts and show varying patterns of development, and different psychological and behavioural outcomes.

Consequences of Teacher Motivations Teacher motivations are likely to produce a range of consequences for their students, and for teachers themselves. To date, we know that teachers’ achievement goals (Butler & Shibaz, 2008) and enthusiasm for teaching

Current and Future Directions in Teacher Motivation Research


(Kunter et al., 2008) affect their quality of instruction. In the FIT-Choice study, we are engaged in studying the relationships between teacher motivations, psychological health, professional well-being, career intentions, and burnout symptoms. These are all likely consequences associated with teachers’ initial and developing motivations through their careers. The reciprocal causation between teacher motivations and correlates such as these will need to be explored, to reflect the dynamic nature of motivation and learning within classrooms (Turner & Patrick, 2004). It is also likely that the kinds of consequences of teachers’ motivations should differ, for teachers who hold different motivational profiles.

Teacher Motivations in Context Thus far, there has been less attention to social/contextual support and barrier systems, and a greater concentration on psychological variables in research concerning teacher motivations. Despite an insistent policy need for reliable data in this vein, there is a dearth of longitudinal studies which collect rich contextual data alongside psychological data. Sensitive, sound, robust theories and measurements are additionally needed at the level of contextual effects, to determine how different workplace environments nurture or constrain teachers’ motivations. Developments in hierarchical linear modelling allow us to examine individuals within their particular teaching contexts, to disentangle the impact of person characteristics and school context on teacher motivations, engagement, and emotions (e.g., Klusmann, Kunter, Trautwein, Lu¨dtke, & Baumert, 2008). In order to be able to tie the development of teacher motivations to critical contextual factors, we need comparative studies across cultural and country settings, which differ along salient dimensions such as salary, status, teacher education, and in-career mentoring. Such studies provide wonderful ‘‘natural experiments’’ to inform policy.

Promoting Dialogue across Fields Motivation researchers need to acknowledge the observation that those outside their research community can, and do, find the literature fragmented and dense (Murphy & Alexander, 2000). It is important that teacher motivation research not develop in isolation or reside in a disciplinary cul de sac for two reasons. First, findings from this line of research need to be



accessible to audiences beyond motivation researchers. Second, there is a risk that the ‘‘discovery’’ of teacher motivation by educational psychologists could overlook the array of findings which exists in the teacher education literature, albeit from different disciplinary origins that do not necessarily resonate with the theoretical perspectives and research designs of the educational psychology community. It will also be important for teacher motivation research to both draw upon, and inform, relevant domains of educational psychology. Related literatures we consider to be key include emotions, self-efficacy, coping, epistemological beliefs, personality, and unconscious motivations. With some notable exceptions (e.g., Pekrun, Elliot, & Maier, 2009; Pekrun, Goetz, Titz, & Perry, 2002; Schutz & DeCuir, 2002; Schutz & Pekrun, 2007), the dominant social-cognitive models of motivation have tended to develop to some extent in isolation from these literatures, although we believe they have much to offer one another. Teacher emotions have been studied by researchers from diverse fields (see Meyer & Turner, 2002; Sutton & Wheatley, 2003), and linked to teaching quality and student outcomes (Frenzel, Goetz, Stephens, & Jacob, 2009) – the same outcomes with which teacher motivation researchers are concerned.

CONCLUSION Ultimately, our goal is to conduct ‘‘basic and use-inspired basic research that generates well-reasoned, empirically supported understandings that can become the scientific foundations for educational practice to improve motivation, learning, and teaching’’ (Pintrich, 2003, p. 683). The burgeoning research interest in teacher motivations has begun to develop theoretically grounded and psychometrically strong approaches to examining teaching motivations and their correlates over time. Continued attention to the issues we have raised to guide teacher motivation research over the next decade will advance its promising agenda.

NOTE 1. Both authors contributed equally to this work.

Current and Future Directions in Teacher Motivation Research


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Stoeber, J., & Rennert, D. (2008). Perfectionism in school teachers: Relations with stress appraisals, coping styles, and burnout. Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 21(1), 37–53. Sutton, R. E., & Wheatley, K. F. (2003). Teachers’ emotions and teaching: A review of the literature and directions for future research. Educational Psychology Review, 15, 327–358. Tryggvason, M.-T. (2009). Why is Finnish teacher education successful? Some goals Finnish teacher educators have for their teaching. European Journal of Teacher Education, 32(4), 369–382. Tschannen-Moran, M., & Woolfolk Hoy, A. (2007). The differential antecedents of self-efficacy beliefs of novice and experienced teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23, 944–956. Tudhope, W. B. (1944). Motives for the choice of the teaching profession by training college students. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 14, 129–141. Turner, J. C., & Patrick, H. (2004). Motivational influences on student participation in classroom learning activities. Teachers College Record, 106, 1759–1785. Valentine, C. W. (1934). An enquiry as to reasons for the choice of the teaching profession by university students. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 4, 237–259. Wang, H.-H. (2004). Why teach science? Graduate science students’ perceived motivations for choosing teaching as a career in Taiwan. International Journal of Science Education, 26(1), 113–128. Wang, J., & Odell, S. J. (2002). Mentored learning to teach according to standards-based reform: A critical review. Review of Educational Research, 72, 481–546. Watt, H. M. G., & Eccles, J. S. (Eds). (2008). Gender and occupational outcomes: Longitudinal assessments of individual, social and cultural influences. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Watt, H. M. G., & Richardson, P. W. (2007). Motivational factors influencing teaching as a career choice: Development and validation of the FIT-Choice scale. Journal of Experimental Education, 75, 167–202. Watt, H. M. G., & Richardson, P. W. (2008a). Guest editorial: Motivation for teaching. Learning and Instruction, 18, 405–407. Watt, H. M. G., & Richardson, P. W. (2008b). Motivations, perceptions, and aspirations concerning teaching as a career for different types of beginning teachers. Learning and Instruction, 18, 408–428. Watt, H. M. G., & Richardson, P. W. (2010, April). When the rubber hits the road: Changing motivations for teacher subtypes in the first 5 years of teaching. Paper presented at the AERA annual conference, Denver, CO, April 30–May 4. Weiss, E. M. (1999). Perceived workplace conditions and first-year teachers’ morale, career choice commitment, and planned retention: A secondary analysis. Teaching and Teacher Education, 15, 861–879. Wilhelm, K., Dewhurst-Savellis, J., & Parker, G. (2000). Teacher stress? An analysis of why teachers leave and why they stay. Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 6(3), 291–304. Woolfolk Hoy, A., & Burke-Spero, R. (2005). Changes in teacher efficacy during the early years of teaching: A comparison of four measures. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21, 343–356. Yong, B. C. S. (1995). Teacher trainees’ motives for entering into a teaching career in Brunei Darussalam. Teaching and Teacher Education, 11, 275–280.

WHY RACE MATTERS: SOCIAL CONTEXT AND ACHIEVEMENT MOTIVATION IN AFRICAN AMERICAN YOUTH Dana Wood and Sandra Graham Motivation is the study of why people think, feel, and behave as they do. Implicit in the study of motivation in African American youth has been the search to find answers to two overarching ‘‘why’’ questions: first, why is there a pervasive achievement gap between African American and White students? Do motivational factors in part account for racial differences in academic outcomes? Among African Americans, the task of developing and maintaining a strong academic orientation is often complicated by a host of racial correlates that are likely to threaten healthy motivational development. For instance, most African American youth have had faceto-face encounters with racial discrimination (Seaton, Caldwell, Sellers, & Jackson, 2008), and many perceive racial barriers to upward educational and occupational mobility (Eccles, Wong, & Peck, 2006). African Americans also tend to have less access than Whites to school resources that are associated with strong academic motivation and performance (e.g., high-quality teachers and rigorous coursework), in part because they tend to be served by racially segregated schools (Rowley, Kurtz-Costes, & Cooper, 2010). Outside of school, African American children and adolescents are more likely than White youth to experience low socioeconomic status and the The Decade Ahead: Applications and Contexts of Motivation and Achievement Advances in Motivation and Achievement, Volume 16B, 175–209 Copyright r 2010 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 0749-7423/doi:10.1108/S0749-7423(2010)000016B009




competence-undermining factors that tend to co-occur with it (McLoyd, Aikens, & Burton, 2006). The second overarching ‘‘why’’ question addressed by motivational analyses focuses on resilience rather than risk. Why is it that many African American youth developing in high-risk settings are doing well academically? Might there be motivational processes that partly explain academic resilience in the face of adversity? As research on normative development reveals, many African American youth are doing quite well on a variety of motivational indicators, including educational expectations (Mello, 2009), mainstream educational values (Mickelson, 1990), school engagement (Sirin & Rogers-Sirin, 2004), mastery orientation (Shim, Ryan, & Anderson, 2008), and academic self-concept (Graham, 1994). These positive motivational outcomes often develop in the presence of multiple risk factors that make the process of forming and sustaining a strong academic orientation distinct for African Americans (Perry, Steele, & Hilliard, 2003). In this chapter, we focus on both risk and resilience as we describe withingroup variability in the achievement motivation of African American youth. Understanding the significance of race in the study of motivation requires that we cast a broader conceptual net than what is offered by historically dominant theories of motivation. Most of those theories focus on intrapersonal processes (e.g., individual achievement needs, goals, and attributions) with little attention to the broader societal context in which achievement strivings unfold. Some contemporary approaches have advanced our understanding of the sociocultural dimensions of motivation (for a review see Nolen & Ward, 2008), and we see that as a good sign. For African American youth, however, an important part of that larger context not addressed by either traditional theories or contemporary sociocultural approaches relates to historical forces and structural characteristics that shape everyday experiences. Like other economically and socially marginalized groups in contemporary America, African Americans are often positioned at the bottom of a status hierarchy wherein barriers to opportunity often override personal strivings for achievement. To organize our discussion of a more contextualized approach to motivation in African American youth, we draw upon Garcia Coll et al.’s (1996) integrative model for the study of developmental competencies in minority children, an ecological model that is grounded in social stratification theory. Although this model is not specific to motivation, it provides a framework for integrating theories of achievement motivation with children’s experiences as members of marginalized social groups. In doing so, it enables a fuller understanding of how experiences correlated with membership in a

Why Race Matters: African American Youth


marginalized ethnic group contribute to variability in African Americans’ achievement motivation. At the heart of Garcia Coll et al.’s framework are the social position factors (e.g., race, class, and gender) that form the basis of social stratification in the United States and that partially determine the kinds of contexts experienced by African American children and families. According to the model, the effects of social position on achievement motivation (and other outcomes) are mediated by a variety of repressive macro-level forces, including racism, prejudice, and discrimination. These forces shape youths’ experiences in environments like schools and neighborhoods by determining the nature of their interpersonal interactions with other people, and by producing various forms of segregation (i.e., residential, economic, and social/psychological segregation) known to give rise to contexts that undermine the healthy development of children. Despite these risks, many of the ecological contexts experienced by African American youth contain features that serve as sources of resiliency. The fact that African American youth, on average, display positive motivational characteristics (for a review see Graham, 1994) can probably be attributed in part to the development of adaptive culture among African Americans as a social group. With Garcia Coll et al.’s framework, adaptive culture includes strategies and belief systems that enable members of ethnic minority groups to overcome risks linked to social position. For African Americans, adaptive culture may include such factors as parenting practices designed to neutralize the influence of racial discrimination on children’s development (i.e., racial socialization), strong racial group identification, heightened valuing of educational achievement and attainment, and supportive fictive kinship networks. The focus on ways in which ethnic minority populations have demonstrated positive adaptation in response to their marginalized status is, for our purposes, an especially useful feature of Garcia Coll et al.’s model. In particular, it provides a backdrop for theorizing and analyzing sources of motivational resiliency among African American youth. Guided by Garcia Coll et al.’s model, the goal of this chapter is to examine how being African American contributes to motivational processes in youth. In the first section, we review research on how two factors linked to social position – racial discrimination and negative intellectual stereotypes – shape motivational outcomes in African American youth. The second section examines the role that adaptive culture plays in motivation. Although adaptive culture among African Americans takes many forms, we have chosen to focus on two of the more thoroughly studied expressions of this construct: parents’ racial socialization strategies and youths’ racial identity. Throughout our discussion, we mention ways in which future researchers



might profitably expand on the existing work in each of these domains. The chapter concludes with several suggestions, both conceptual and methodological, that we hope will be helpful in setting a future research agenda for the study of achievement motivation in African Americans.

SOCIAL POSITION-RELATED RISK FACTORS AND ACHIEVEMENT MOTIVATION IN AFRICAN AMERICANS Racial Discrimination Discrimination is defined as negative or harmful behavior toward a person because of his or her membership in a particular group (see Jones, 1997). Unfortunately, experiences with discrimination due to racial group membership appear to be a normal part of development for African American youth. Discrimination experiences occur within a variety of social contexts, including school, peer, and community contexts, and with increasing frequency as youth move across the adolescent years (Fisher, Wallace, & Fenton, 2000; Seaton et al., 2008). Recent research with a nationally representative sample of African American 13–17-year olds revealed that 87% had experienced at least one racially discriminatory event during the preceding year (Seaton et al., 2008). Most of the research on the consequences of youths’ encounters with racial discrimination has focused on mental health outcomes (Cooper, McLoyd, Wood, & Hardaway, 2008), with surprisingly little work examining whether and through what mechanisms discrimination affects achievement motivation. In studies with youth, racial discrimination has most often been operationalized as perceptions of negative face-to-face interactions that are believed to have occurred due to racial group membership. Commonly reported racial discrimination experiences include being socially excluded by peers, being punished unfairly by teachers, and receiving poor service or treatment in public settings (e.g., Fisher et al., 2000; Harrell, 1997). Although discrimination occurring in any context may have the potential to impact education-related outcomes, most work in this area has focused on schoolbased experiences with racial discrimination. For example, in analyses that controlled for learner characteristics and family background variables, Eccles et al. (2006) found that the frequency of middle-school students’ encounters

Why Race Matters: African American Youth


with face-to-face discrimination from teachers and peers was negatively related to beliefs about the personal importance of school, educational utility values, and academic self-concept. Among these same youth during high school, researchers found that discrimination experienced within classroom and peer contexts was negatively related to motivation and to grades (Chavous, Rivas-Drake, Smalls, Griffin, & Cogburn, 2008). Other studies have documented similar relations between general (i.e., not necessarily school-based) day-to-day discrimination experiences and indicators of motivation, including academic persistence, academic curiosity, negative school behaviors, and academic achievement (Neblett, Philip, Cogburn, & Sellers, 2006; Smalls, White, Chavous, & Sellers, 2007). In our review of the literature, we were unable to identify any studies that tested potential mediators of the associations between African Americans’ face-to-face experiences with racial discrimination and motivational outcomes. Some scholars have suggested that discrimination experiences may heighten youths’ awareness of the challenges that members of their social group may face when attempting to access the opportunity structure; this awareness is posited to undermine the value that youth place on academic engagement and achievement because they believe that working hard in school will not pay off with greater educational and occupational opportunities in the future (Ogbu, 1990; Taylor & Graham, 2007). Others have suggested that face-to-face experiences with discrimination may impact youths’ motivation to do well in school by way of their negative consequences for mental health (e.g., depression and self-esteem). Although both pathways have received empirical support, the existing research literature offers more support for the idea that mental health accounts for variability shared between face-to-face discrimination experiences and achievement motivation. Racially discriminatory experiences have been associated with a host of adverse mental health outcomes, including lower self-esteem (Wong, Eccles, & Sameroff, 2003), increased depressive symptomatology (Simons et al., 2002), and feelings of hopelessness (Nyborg & Curry, 2003). Mental health, in turn, is a known correlate of academic motivation. For example, Roeser, Strobel, and Quihuis (2002) found that poor mental health was associated with unfavorable outcomes on a broad array of achievement motivation indicators, including task values, selfefficacy, and goals. Although this pattern of results is consistent with the theory that mental health mediates the relations between discrimination and achievement motivation outcomes, additional work is needed to test these relations directly.



Academic Resilience in the Face of Discrimination The studies and theory we have described thus far indicate that racial discrimination undermines African Americans’ academic achievement motivation; however, other research indicates that this conclusion may be overly simplistic. Although we certainly do not argue that perceived racial discrimination is ever desirable or adaptive, there may be some circumstances under which youth transform discriminatory experiences so that they become an impetus for increased effort in school. Eccles et al. (2006) asked middleschool youth whether they believed that being African American would make it difficult for them to be successful in their future educational and occupational pursuits. Analyses showed that youth who anticipated future race-based educational/occupational discrimination displayed higher levels of academic motivation, as indicated by valuing of school and academic selfconcept, than those who did not. The authors speculated that some youth who expect future discrimination may respond to this perceived barrier ‘‘agentically by increasing their commitment to education’’ (p. 416). Echoing Eccles et al.’s (2006) findings, results of qualitative research demonstrate that awareness of discrimination and more generally of belonging to an oppressed social group may serve as a catalyst for increased effort in school. Rather than focusing on day-to-day discrimination experiences as much of the literature on this topic has done, these studies appear to capture youths’ beliefs about structural/institutional racial barriers to upward mobility. Some youth may conceptualize such barriers as a challenge that can be overcome through academic excellence. A 14-year-old girl in Sanders’ (1997) study articulated this perspective when asked about the effects of racism on African Americans’ ability to achieve in the United States: I want to come to school so that I can get an education, and make the White man know that just because he says that Black people are not going to succeed, doesn’t make it so. I want to show him different. (p. 90)

Sanders also reported that a majority of her high-achieving study participants displayed an acute awareness of racial barriers. Her finding is at odds with the idea, as theorized by Ogbu (1990), that limited access to the opportunity structure leads members of marginalized groups to disengage from schooling. O’Connor’s (1997) research is also inconsistent with Ogbu’s theory. In her work examining the relationship between racial barrier awareness and academic orientation among low-income African American adolescents,

Why Race Matters: African American Youth


O’Connor identified a subset of youth who were deeply aware of race- and class-based constraints to upward mobility, but who were also very optimistic that high educational and occupational goals were within their reach. Importantly, these youth also reported experiences known to promote positive academic outcomes for African American youth, including direct contact with successful African American role models (Tatum, 2004), contact with individuals who connected them with concrete strategies for achieving their goals (Oyserman, Bybee, & Terry, 2006), and a history of strong academic performance. Although experiences with racial discrimination may be linked with stronger achievement motivation for some African American youth, it is important to recognize that these experiences probably come at a steep cost to other indicators of well-being, including mental and physical health (Cooper et al., 2008). Nonetheless, future research should continue to examine the conditions under which discriminatory experiences are transformed into adaptive motivational outcomes. For example, youth from socioeconomically advantaged backgrounds may be in a better position than lower income youth to mobilize an effortful response to discrimination because they perceive that they have access to resources (e.g., social capital, high-quality educational experiences, and financial resources) that will enable them to overcome racial barriers. As suggested by O’Connor’s (1997) work, other social context factors such as high-achieving same-race role models and adults who help youth to devise tangible strategies for academic success may increase resilience in the face of racial discrimination. Finally, strong racial group identification may also weaken the harmful impact of discrimination experiences on motivation by increasing positive affective ties to networks of individuals who have had similar experiences. We return to this issue later in the chapter when we discuss the buffering effects of strong racial identity. In summary, face-to-face encounters with racial discrimination appear to undermine achievement motivation for many African American youth. Based on our survey of the existing literature, additional research is needed to identify the proximal processes through which racial discrimination exerts its influence on motivation. Moreover, work in this area is complicated by the possibility that the effects of discrimination on motivation depend on the presence or absence of various protective factors, such as socioeconomic advantage and access to social capital. It is clear that new studies must be conducted in order to gain a more detailed understanding of processes that tie racial discrimination to academic outcomes in youth.



Intellectual Stigma and Stereotypes Historically, the myth of Black intellectual inferiority was used to justify the enslavement of Africans and, in the post-slavery era, the continued subjugation and segregation of African Americans from the rest of society. Unfortunately, surveys of White Americans demonstrate that this myth has persisted well into the decades beyond the Civil Rights Movement. Although privately held beliefs have become more positive over the last 50 years (e.g., Schuman, Steeh, Bobo, & Krysan, 1997), studies of cultural stereotypes continue to show that respondents associate being Black (and male) with low intelligence and aggressiveness (e.g., Bobo, 2001). African American children’s awareness of intellectual stereotypes about their social group appears to emerge during middle childhood (McKown & Strambler, 2009; McKown & Weinstein, 2003) and, by early adolescence, some African American youth may personally endorse this stereotype (Rowley, KurtzCostes, Mistry, & Feagans, 2007). Both awareness and endorsement of stereotypes about African Americans’ intellectual competence may have implications for motivation and achievement in African American youth. Moreover, endorsement of negative racial stereotypes by significant others, including teachers, may indirectly influence academic outcomes for members of this group. Stereotype Threat Research on stereotype threat (Steele, 1997) has provided important insights into the negative motivational consequences of racial stereotypes about intelligence. Stereotype threat is the awareness that individuals have about negative stereotypes associated with their group. Although considered to be a general psychological state applicable to any negative group stereotype, the construct originated in the achievement domain and has been applied to African American students’ awareness of the cultural stereotype associating their race with intellectual inferiority. That awareness can be quite debilitating, especially for those African American students who are invested in doing well in school. For example, in a series of studies with Black and White students attending Stanford University, Steele and Aronson (1995) found that Black students performed more poorly than Whites on standardized test items when they were told that the test was diagnostic of their abilities. When told that the test was a problem-solving activity unrelated to ability, there was no difference in the performance of the two racial groups. In ability-related contexts, therefore, what became threatening for African American students was the fear that they might confirm the

Why Race Matters: African American Youth


stereotype or be judged by others based on that stereotype. Stereotypethreatened students often are dividing their attention between the task itself (e.g., taking an SAT exam) and ruminating about the meaning of their performance (e.g., what does this say about me or about members of my racial group?). Such ruminations have been shown to both arouse anxiety and deplete the executive resources needed to do well on academic tasks (Schmader, Johns, & Forbes, 2008). Furthermore, it is not necessary that a student endorse the stereotype; mere awareness of its existence is sufficient to activate threat. Although primarily laboratory experimental, several hundred studies have now been conducted on stereotype threat, making it one of the most widely studied topics in social psychology research of the last decade (see review in Nguyen & Ryan, 2008). It has also been especially popular as a social psychological/motivational explanation for the achievement gap. The argument goes something like this: if we can change evaluative contexts that activate stereotype threat (e.g., high-stakes testing) or alter appraisals of those contexts, then racial disparities in achievement between Black and White students should diminish (Steele & Aronson, 1998). As intuitively appealing as this notion may be, there does not seem to be any strong empirical evidence that reducing stereotype threat has a direct impact on the achievement gap (see Sackett, Hardison, & Cullen, 2004). Motivational Consequences of Stereotype Threat Like most of the psychological phenomena discussed in this chapter, there appear to be both adaptive and maladaptive motivational consequences of the anxiety associated with thinking about race and intelligence in highly evaluative achievement contexts. On the adaptive side, like reactions to discrimination for particular students, stereotype threat might be a motivational enhancer. Some African American students may choose to work especially hard as a way of disconfirming the stereotype. Of course, high effort in the face of increasing academic challenge may be difficult to sustain and may even lead one to question his or her abilities. Regarding maladaptive motivational consequences, it has been suggested that stereotype threat promotes performance-avoidant goals, or concerns about public displays of low ability (Ryan & Ryan, 2005; Smith, 2004). Stereotype threat can also influence achievement values, causing students to minimize effort and downplay the importance of doing well in school. Steele (1997) coined the term academic disidentification to describe students who no longer view academic achievement as a domain that is important either to them or to their self-definition. Disidentification has been operationalized as



the absence of a relationship between academic performance and self-esteem and has been associated with declining achievement between middle school and high school, particularly among African American boys (Osborne, 1997). A similar process, labeled academic disengagement, occurs when students begin to discount the feedback they receive about their performance or to devalue achievement altogether (e.g., Major & Schmader, 2001). Although there appears to be more empirical support for disidentification than disengagement among African American adolescents (Morgan & Mehta, 2004), it is evident that each process is something of a double-edged sword. Both disidentification and disengagement may be self-protecting mechanisms for coping with negative racial stereo types. In the long run, however, their detrimental effects on achievement strivings will probably outweigh any short-term self-enhancing effects. Other Approaches to Measuring Intellectual Stigma In the stereotype threat literature, African American students’ representations of stereotypes are inferred rather than measured directly. However, a few studies have explicitly measured youths’ perceptions or endorsement of intellectual race stereotypes and tested their relationships with motivational outcomes. Using a sample of African American undergraduates, Chavous, Harris, Rivas, Helaire, and Green (2004) found that students who expected future academic feedback from professors and peers to be biased by negative racial stereotypes displayed lower levels of academic self-competence and had lower grade point averages than those who did not expect such treatment. Recent work suggests that many African American youth may personally endorse the stereotype that African Americans are less academically competent than Whites (Okeke, Howard, Kurtz-Costes, & Rowley, 2009). Moreover, youth who endorsed the stereotype reported lower perceptions of academic self-competence than those who believed that African Americans were more academically competent than Whites. In addition to intellectual race stereotypes, it is plausible that racial stereotypes not directly linked to academic functioning may also undermine African Americans’ achievement motivation. For example, occupational stereotypes depicting African Americans in low status jobs may make the attainment of high status seem less plausible to youth (Bigler, Averhart, & Liben, 2003). Such stereotypes may also heighten perceptions of racial constraints to upward occupational mobility, thereby undermining strong educational values among youth who lack resources to rise above such constraints. Additionally, because African Americans are over-represented among the poor, stereotypes about the causes and correlates of poverty may

Why Race Matters: African American Youth


play a role in the motivation of some African American youth (Chafel, 1997; Woods, Kurtz-Costes, & Rowley, 2005).

Being African American and Male There is little question that African American males encounter more educational challenges than their female counterparts. In comparison to girls, African American school-aged boys experience lower levels of academic success (Holzman, 2006; Mickelson & Greene, 2006; Polite & Davis, 1999; Ryu, 2008), a trend that continues into adulthood. For example, recent research shows that African American men earn about half as many post-secondary degrees as African American women (Ryu, 2008). Given this section’s focus on the social context of risk factors and achievement motivation, a subsection dealing with gender (i.e., a social category) as a risk factor may seem out of place. We would like to make clear that we do not conceptualize African American boys’ gender on its own as a risk to positive motivational outcomes. In other words, we do not assert that – all else being equal – African American boys are inherently more likely than African American girls to experience motivational difficulties. Rather, it is African American boys’ experiences within their social contexts that place them at risk for academic difficulty. Unfortunately, researchers have yet to adequately characterize processes that place African American boys at greater risk for educational difficulties than African American girls. We assume that these processes stem from African American boys’ unique and particularly stigmatized position in American consciousness. More so than females, African American boys and men are stereotyped in the media and by society at large as possessing characteristics that are incompatible with high levels of achievement striving (e.g., propensity toward violence, laziness, and preference for athletic as opposed to academic accomplishments) (Hall, 2001). In addition, the individuals most proximal to the educational process (i.e., teachers, parents, and peers) have reported viewing African American boys as less academically competent than girls (Hudley & Graham, 2001; Wood, Kurtz-Costes, Rowley, & Okeke-Adeyanju, in press). Although little research has focused on processes through which gender differences arise, robust empirical evidence demonstrates that African American boys tend to fare worse than girls on a variety of motivational indicators. For example, using a sample of 10th graders, Saunders, Davis, Williams, and Williams (2004) found that boys expressed lower levels of academic self-efficacy and weaker endorsement of the notion that completing



the current school year was important to their sense of self. Graham and colleagues (Graham, Taylor, & Hudley, 1998; Taylor & Graham, 2007) found that, unlike those of girls, early adolescent boys’ peer nomination patterns revealed valuing of low-achieving peers to the exclusion of middleand high-achieving ones. Research also suggests that African American boys are more likely than girls to endorse oppositional attitudes toward schooling (Mickelson & Greene, 2006), with lower income boys being particularly vulnerable to the adoption of such attitudes (Irving & Hudley, 2008). Other work using a nationally representative sample of African Americans suggests that boys disidentify from academics between the middle- and high-school years, whereas girls remain identified (Osborne, 1997), although more recent analyses with these same data have called this conclusion into question (Morgan & Mehta, 2004). In addition to holding less positive motivational attitudes and beliefs, African American boys also appear to be less optimistic about their prospects for future educational success. Multiple studies have reported that boys on average hold lower expectations for their future educational attainment (Kao & Tienda, 1998; Mello & Swanson, 2007; Wood, Kaplan, & McLoyd, 2007). Boys may also be more likely than girls to perceive barriers to future educational opportunities, which may in turn contribute negatively to their valuing of high academic achievement (Taylor, Casten, Flickinger, Roberts, & Fulmore, 1994; Taylor & Graham, 2007). In her qualitative study of future outlook among African American ninth graders, Honora (2002) found that, when asked to discuss their goals and aspirations, boys tended to project less far into the future than girls and to articulate fewer educational and occupational goals. Developmentally, it appears that the gender gap in African Americans’ motivation and achievement increases between childhood and adolescence (e.g., Taylor & Graham, 2007; Roderick, 2003; Wood & Kurtz-Costes, 2010). Scholars have noted that African American boys, particularly those from lower SES backgrounds, are increasingly exposed to competenceundermining contexts as they negotiate the adolescent years (Noguera, 2003). Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that the gender gap in African Americans’ motivational and academic outcomes is less pronounced among youth whose socioeconomic status is decisively middle class (King, 2001, 2006; Wood & Kurtz-Costes, 2010). Robust gender differences in motivation documented in the research literature may therefore be due in part to the fact that most work on this topic has been conducted with relatively low-income samples. Taken together, these points are consistent with our argument that it is primarily boys’ social contexts, and not their gender, that threaten the

Why Race Matters: African American Youth


development of positive motivational outcomes. In the final section of this chapter, we will further elaborate on the need for new research on the processes that explain how social categories such as gender are related to motivational outcomes in African American youth.

ADAPTIVE CULTURE AND MOTIVATION IN AFRICAN AMERICANS According to Garcia Coll et al. (1996), African Americans have reacted to oppressive forces by developing a set of perspectives and behaviors that distinguish them from other social groups. Collectively referred to as adaptive culture, these perspectives and behaviors are often aimed at fostering the well-being of children whose healthy development might otherwise be compromised by race-related risk factors. In the following section, we describe two manifestations of adaptive culture that have been linked to achievement motivation in African Americans. The first of these, racial socialization, refers to parental messages intended to foster children’s positive beliefs about themselves and their racial group. We will also examine racial identity, and elaborate on racial identity profiles believed to support a strong academic orientation among African American youth. Although both racial socialization and racial identity are generally theorized to promote positive motivational outcomes, we will also describe circumstances under which these variables may inadvertently pose a risk to motivation. Racial Socialization All parents are charged with raising children who are prepared to successfully navigate life’s challenges; however, African American parents have the added task of raising children who are equipped to deal with challenges arising from membership in a stigmatized social group. The latter task is the goal of African American parents’ racial socialization messages. Racial socialization messages frequently focus on connecting children with their African American culture, and on preparing them to understand and effectively negotiate the challenges of living in a society where being African American may constrain opportunities for success in life (Hughes et al., 2006). Defined in this way, not all racial socialization messages contain explicit references to race (Coard & Sellers, 2005). For example, parental messages that emphasize general self-worth could be classified as racial



socialization because they are intended to heighten youths’ positive selfperceptions and, by extension, increase their ability to function in spite of racial discrimination and negative stereotypes about African Americans. Cultural Pride and Self-worth Within the contemporary literature on racial socialization, two categories of messages have been theorized to influence children’s academic outcomes. The first of these categories consists of messages intended to enhance children’s beliefs about themselves and their racial group, and includes both cultural pride and self-worth messages. These messages are theorized to influence motivation and achievement indirectly through their positive influence on variables such as general self-esteem and racial group connectedness (Hughes et al., 2006; Miller, 1999; Spencer & Markstrom-Adams, 1990). Despite being grounded in a rational theoretical framework, findings regarding linkages between cultural pride/self-worth messages and academic outcomes are equivocal. To date, only one published study supports the theorized pathway linking cultural pride messages and academic motivation via selfperceptions. Using a sample of fourth to sixth graders, Hughes, Witherspoon, Rivas-Drake, and West-Bey (2009) found that child-reported cultural pride socialization was positively related to academic efficacy and academic engagement, and that these relations were partially mediated by children’s ethnic affirmation (i.e., positive evaluations of one’s racial group) and global self-esteem. These findings are at odds with those reported by Neblett et al. (2006), who reported a negative association between cultural pride messages (as reported by youth) and academic motivation and performance. As one possible explanation for this counterintuitive finding, the authors proposed that parents may transmit more cultural pride messages to children who are struggling academically. Preparation for Bias Parental messages designed to prepare children for encounters with racial bias are the second category of racial socialization theorized to impact motivation and achievement. There are multiple (and in some cases conflicting) theories designed to explain how preparation for bias messages should be related to youths’ academic outcomes. One school of thought is that preparation for bias should be positively associated with achievement striving in youth. According to this perspective, messages about racial barriers and how to cope with them provide youth with information needed

Why Race Matters: African American Youth


to navigate a racially hostile environment. Armed with knowledge about blocked opportunities due to race, youth exert extra effort as an adaptive response for overcoming discrimination (Neblett et al., 2006; Spencer, 1999). Awareness of racism may also decrease youths’ vulnerability to negative stereotypes about their social group’s intellectual competence, thereby supporting and/or strengthening academic identification and its correlates (Hughes et al., 2006; Steele & Aronson, 1995). Although intuitively appealing, this pattern of effects has received little support in the literature. To date, only Bowman and Howard (1985) have reported a positive main effect of racial barrier messages on academic outcomes (i.e., grades). A second school of thought is that relatively high levels of preparation for bias may actually undermine achievement striving. Parents’ overemphasis on racial barriers may cause youth to perceive the world as a racially hostile place where they have little control over academic outcomes (Hughes & Johnson, 2001). These external attributions may lead to decreases in motivation. Messages about racial barriers may also heighten children’s awareness of African Americans’ status as a stigmatized social group, thereby harming children’s self-perceptions and, consequently, their motivation. Hughes et al. (2009) provided evidence for the latter causal pathway between preparation for bias messages and motivational outcomes. Specifically, these researchers found that preparation for bias was negatively related to children’s academic efficacy and academic engagement. A third (hybrid) perspective on how racial barrier messages should relate to youths motivation and achievement holds that moderate amounts of preparation for bias are ideal for most outcomes. Too little preparation for bias may leave children vulnerable to the harmful impact of discrimination and stereotypes (e.g., Fischer & Shaw, 1999), whereas too much preparation could heighten awareness of racial barriers to a level that results in the erosion of children’s self-efficacy (Hughes & Johnson, 2001). To our knowledge, no published studies examine the possibility of a curvilinear relationship between preparation for bias and motivation in African American youth. Consistent with this idea, however, Harris-Britt, Valrie, Kurtz-Costes, and Rowley (2007) reported that moderate amounts of bias preparation protected adolescents’ self-esteem from the harmful impact of racial discrimination experiences; the self-esteem of youth who received relatively little or relatively a lot of preparation for bias appeared to remain vulnerable to the impact of discrimination. It seems likely that the impact of parents’ messages about racial barriers on their children’s achievement striving may be moderated by child



characteristics and by features of the context in which the messages are being transmitted. For example, pre- and early adolescents may be cognitively unprepared to process messages about racially sensitive topics in a way that leads to adaptive outcomes (Hughes et al., 2006). On the other hand, youth who are knowledgeable about and identify with African Americans’ historical and collective struggle for equality may be more likely than others to transform racial barrier messages into an impetus for increased effort in school. Beyond child characteristics, contextual factors (e.g., neighborhood/school race composition and racial climate, and child’s firsthand experiences with discrimination) may determine how youth interpret and react to parents’ messages about racial bias. Consistent with this notion, Smalls (2009) found that preparation for bias messages was positively related to adolescents’ motivational outcomes in the context of relatively high levels of democratic-involved parenting, but negatively related to the same outcomes in the context of lower levels of democraticinvolved parenting. This pattern of findings suggests that the meaning youth attach to parental messages about racially sensitive topics may differ depending on the quality of the parent–child relationship. Although parents’ racial socialization messages may play a role in achievement and motivation, additional research is needed to better understand the child developmental and social context factors that determine how these messages are interpreted by children and subsequently shape academic outcomes.

Racial Identity A major goal of parents’ racial socialization practices is to foster a racialized identity that helps children organize experiences in ways that promote and protect well-being. Consistent with this goal, research suggests that the positive impacts of parents’ racial pride socialization on children’s psychological and academic outcomes are mediated by changes in the content of children’s racial identity (Berkel et al., 2009). African American racial identity is comprised of multiple dimensions, including the degree to which an individual regards being African American as important to his or her self-views, feelings of connectedness to other African Americans, and the meanings one attaches to being African American (Sellers, Smith, Shelton, Rowley, & Chavous, 1998). Of course, African American youth display a great deal of within-group variability along each of these dimensions, and this variability is theorized to overlap with individual differences in achievement motivation.

Why Race Matters: African American Youth


Racial Identity as a Risk Factor Some of the earliest theory and research concerning associations between racial identity and motivation emerged from the field of anthropology to suggest that a strong sense of connectedness with African American people is in direct opposition to a positive academic achievement orientation. According to this perspective, African Americans are an involuntary minority, that is, a group that has become part of American society not by choice, but as a result of slavery, conquest, or colonization (Fordham & Ogbu, 1986). One consequence of this history is that acceptance of mainstream values about working hard and school success may be perceived as threatening to one’s social identity. Particularly during adolescence, African American youth may adopt oppositional identities whereby they show relative indifference, or even disdain, toward achievement behaviors that are valued by the larger society. In their ethnographic study of youth attending an all-Black large urban high school, Fordham and Ogbu (1986) reported that students reacted to identity threat by treating school achievement as the domain of Whites and believing that their peers would construe strong school engagement as an act of betrayal of Black people and as a form of ‘‘acting White’’. Fordham (1988) subsequently argued that adoption of a ‘‘raceless’’ persona, through which individuals create distance between themselves and the Black community, would best facilitate African Americans’ academic success. Although Fordham and Ogbu’s formulations may be useful in explaining processes by which a minority of African American youth disengage either from schooling or from their racial group, both ethnographic and non-ethnographic studies generally have failed to replicate claims that strong racial group connectedness is correlated with a weak academic achievement orientation (e.g., Cook & Ludwig, 1998; Datnow & Cooper, 1997; Eccles et al., 2006; Nasir, McLaughlin, & Jones, 2009; Taylor et al., 1994; Tyson, Darity, & Castellino, 2005). Racial Identity as a Protective Factor Post-oppositional identity theorizing about racial identity and motivation proposes that some dimensions of racial identity may serve as protective factors. In their tripartite theory of racial identity, Oyserman and colleagues (Oyserman, Gant, & Ager, 1995; Oyserman & Harrison, 1998) describe three components of racial identity posited to coalesce in ways that shape youths’ vision for who they might become in the future (i.e., their possible selves) and that buffer developing self-perceptions from the harmful influences of racial stigma. These components are racial group connectedness, awareness of racism, and embedded achievement. High levels of racial group connectedness



are theorized to foster general psychological well-being (see also Phinney & Kohatsu, 1997); in addition, strong social ties to others with whom racially denigrating experiences are shared may buffer motivational outcomes from the harmful influence of those experiences. Awareness of racism may be adaptive in that it provides a basis for attributing discriminatory experiences and negatively biased feedback to external factors rather than to personal shortcomings. Embedded achievement is the third dimension of Oyserman et al.’s model, and refers to the belief that high achievement is characteristic of African Americans. By conceptualizing achievement as normative for African Americans, societal devaluation of African Americans’ intellectual competence is negated and achievement-oriented selves become increasingly plausible (Oyserman et al., 2006). Moreover, awareness of racism coupled with strong racial group connectedness and embedded achievement beliefs may enable youth to transform discrimination and barriers into increased school engagement, with the goal of achieving both personal and racial group uplifts. A number of studies have garnered support for hypotheses linked to Oyserman et al.’s tripartite theory. Work by Eccles et al. (Eccles et al., 2006; Wong et al., 2003) shows that racial group connectedness may buffer youths’ motivationally relevant outcomes (i.e., academic self-concept, grade point average, and problem behaviors) from the harmful impact of racial discrimination. In addition, multiple studies provide evidence for beneficial direct effects of racial group connectedness (and conceptually similar constructs) on a variety of motivation indicators in adolescent and college student samples, including academic engagement (Taylor et al., 1994), academic identity (Smalls et al., 2007), achievement values (Cokley & Chapman, 2008), scholastic behaviors (e.g., attendance and time spent studying) (Oyserman et al., 2006), and grade point average (Eccles et al., 2006). Some research also supports the idea that awareness of racism may have motivational properties when situated in the context of high levels of racial connectedness. For example, Oyserman, Bybee, and Terry (2003) found that youth who reported relatively high levels of racism awareness in conjunction with high levels of racial group connectedness and embedded achievement attitudes at the beginning of eighth grade demonstrated greater concern about academic performance over the course of the school year. A similar pattern was identified by Chavous et al. (2003), who found that 12th-grade students who reported awareness of discrimination coupled with positive attachment to and evaluation of their racial group experienced better future educational attainment outcomes as compared to other youth.

Why Race Matters: African American Youth


Summary In this section on adaptive culture and achievement strivings, we reviewed research on racial socialization and racial identity as protective factors that enhance motivation even in the face of discrimination and socioeconomic disadvantage. In both literatures, there is a need for more research on the mechanisms, or proximal processes, through which these variables are linked to motivation. Our understanding of the research suggests numerous plausible pathways, including positive self-perceptions, perceived social support, and desire for racial uplift. Also needed are studies on other manifestations of African American adaptive culture (e.g., extended kinship networks and religiosity) that may impact children’s motivational development.

SETTING A RESEARCH AGENDA FOR THE NEXT DECADE In this final section, we offer a set of recommendations for motivation theory and research on African Americans during the next decade. Although none of our recommendations can be discussed in detail, we elaborate as much as possible with examples from the topics reviewed in this chapter. We hope that this strategy will facilitate greater integration of the disparate literatures that we covered. More Attention to the Social Context of Achievement Motivation Theories of achievement motivation, including traditional expectancy-value models, attributional analyses, intrinsic motivation approaches, and goal theories are intrapersonal in nature. The focus has been on individual needs, beliefs, goals, task values, and self-regulatory mechanisms. Yet the contexts for achievement strivings are inherently interpersonal. Self-directed thoughts and feelings are in part shaped by interactions with others, including teachers, parents, and peers. Furthermore, the appraisals and evaluations of these significant others are important topics in the study of motivation. There are many examples of empirical literatures that situate the study of individual achievement strivings of African Americans within a social context and we highlighted some of those literatures in this review. Although our focus has been on social context variables that are specific to race/ethnicity, being African American is also correlated with a host of



social position factors that are more structural in nature. For example, African American students are more likely than White youth to attend under-resourced schools and to live in neighborhoods with fewer supports for optimal child development. In the next decade, we hope to see a better integration of research on both cultural and structural social context factors with traditional theories and contemporary sociocultural approaches to motivation. As an illustration of this type of work, one of us (Graham) has been studying how the school ethnic context, defined as the ethnic composition of classrooms and schools, in part shapes the attributions that students endorse for peer victimization (a form of peer discrimination) (Graham, 2006, in press). We found that African American victims of mistreatment by peers felt worse when they were members of the majority racial/ethnic group in their classroom and that those victims were particularly vulnerable to self-blaming attributions (‘‘it must be me’’) (Graham, Bellmore, Nishina, & Juvonen, 2009). Self-blaming attributions, in turn, have been related to (predictive of) poor academic outcomes (Graham, Bellmore, & Mize, 2006). We have also been studying how the changing ethnic composition of schools can influence adjustment and achievement across the transition from middle school to high school. When there was a significant drop in the representation of one’s racial group across the transition (i.e., students went from being the majority racial group in their middle school to a minority group in their high school), feelings of belonging declined as well, and this was particularly true for African American transitioning students (Benner & Graham, 2009). Because the need to belong is a fundamental human motive (Baumeister & Leary, 1995), how it intersects with individual achievement strivings is a central concern of motivation theorists. We believe that there are many important questions about motivation in African American students that can be addressed with the inclusion of racial/ethnic composition of classrooms and schools as an important context factor. Considering some of the topics we reviewed in this chapter, one might ask, for example: Do African American children develop stronger racial identity (and presumed higher motivation) when their racial group is the numerical majority in their school and they have many same-race peers with whom to affiliate? Or does racial identity intensify when one’s group is the minority and there are distinct boundaries between groups (e.g., ‘‘us’’ versus ‘‘them’’)? Are Black students more vulnerable to stereotype threat when they are a numerical minority in predominantly White schools? (This was the context for the first studies of stereotype threat at Stanford University.) Do parents’ racial socialization messages take on different

Why Race Matters: African American Youth


meanings depending on the ethnic composition of their child’s school or the neighborhood in which they live? Addressing such questions may shed new light on how racial and ethnic diversity can foster achievement strivings and greater competence in African American youth.

More Attention to Social Identities other than Race/Ethnicity Within the motivational and other psychological literatures, researchers have had a tendency to categorize their African American samples along a single dimension (i.e., race), with little regard for the fact that all individuals occupy multiple social categories. Two social categories that seem particularly relevant to the study of motivation in African Americans are gender and socioeconomic advantage/disadvantage. Although ample research has shown that boys and lower SES African Americans on average have worse motivational outcomes than girls and more socioeconomically advantaged youth, almost no research has focused on social context processes that explain these differences in youths’ achievement strivings. As we noted in our discussion about gender differences in motivation, it is not social categories and positions themselves that explain why some (male) youth are at greater risk than others for motivational difficulties. Instead, members of a given social category share contextual experiences, and it is these shared experiences that give social category variables the power to predict motivational outcomes. Our call for researchers to treat social categories as processes rather than as explanatory variables is similar to arguments that focus on the hazards of using race as an independent variable in statistical analyses (e.g., Helms, Jernigan, & Mascher, 2005; Steinberg & Fletcher, 1998). Observing a main effect of race, gender, or SES on motivation is informative to the extent that it draws attention to social group differences in mean levels of the dependent variable. However, researchers should keep in mind that these and other social category variables are merely ‘‘place holders’’ for contextual and socialization factors that are correlated with social group membership (Helms et al., 2005). Increased attention on these factors rather than on social categories by themselves would help to illuminate processes underlying group differences in motivation. To address this issue, researchers could draw upon developmental theory to formulate hypotheses about variables that may explain, or mediate, relationships between social categories and motivation. For example, one might posit that African American girls’ stronger school engagement in comparison to boys stems



from the fact that girls have more positive relationships with teachers (Noguera, 2003). Analyses conducted to test whether student–teacher relationship quality mediates the link between gender and school engagement has much more explanatory potential than analyses merely documenting a main effect of gender on motivation. Social identities within a given individual do not exist in isolation but are experienced simultaneously, and researchers who wish to examine the conjoint influence of multiple identities may find the concept of intersectionality to be a useful tool. According to intersectionality theory, racial, gender, and social class identities are not additive, but instead coalesce in ways that modify the meaning and consequences of each (Bowleg, 2008; Cole, 2009). For example, the meanings attached to and consequences of being male almost certainly depend on the individual’s racial/ethnic group and social class; consequently, attempts to isolate the ‘‘pure’’ effect of gender on a given process (e.g., by statistically controlling for race/ethnicity and social class) are unlikely to be productive. Although a full analysis of intersectionality is beyond the scope of this chapter, we refer the reader to recent reviews (Bowleg, 2008; Cole, 2009), which describe concepts, methods, and challenges associated with conducting research from an intersectionality perspective.

Re-vitalizing the Socialization (Childrearing) Antecedents of Achievement Strivings In the history of motivation research with African Americans, parental socialization once played a pivotal role. Early research from the 1950s on the achievement syndrome by Bernard Rosen and colleagues attempted to examine how childrearing practices such as early training in mastery and independence were related to achievement aspirations and values (Rosen & d’Andrade, 1959). Yet it was never clearly documented that any component of the achievement syndrome was related to racial differences in childrearing practices, and by 1980 that genre of socialization research had disappeared. The racial socialization research reviewed in this chapter indicates that the study of childrearing antecedents to motivation is re-emerging. We see that as a good sign. Unlike the older literature that tended to portray Black families in a negative light (see Graham, 1994), this newer research focuses on normative rather than deviant childrearing and on adaptive rather than pathological functioning in African American families. We hope to see more research on positive parental socialization of achievement motivation over the next decade. One particularly promising approach is research on

Why Race Matters: African American Youth


religiosity and spirituality. For example, we know that family members’ spiritual beliefs (i.e., the belief in a higher power) and regular church attendance are related to better achievement among African American youth (e.g., Walker & Dixon, 2002; Williams, Davis, Cribbs, Saunders, & Williams, 2002). Examining whether the relationship between spirituality and achievement outcomes is mediated by motivation variables would be a good starting point for further studies of this important socialization variable.

Be Open to Multi-disciplinary Perspectives and Multiple Methods As race and ethnicity assume a more important role in motivation research, so too will there be a need for multi-disciplinary perspectives. The theoretical underpinnings of many of the topics examined in this chapter are just as much the intellectual terrain of sociologists and anthropologists as they are of developmental psychologists like us who study motivation. Because race and ethnicity are integrally linked to social status, we need the perspective of sociologists to help us understand how social inequality shapes social experiences, such as discrimination and vulnerability to stereotypes. Most motivation research with children and adolescents takes place in schools, yet sociologists seem to be much more sophisticated than developmental psychologists in thinking about schools as social structures that promote or impede the development of children. Anthropological approaches, from which oppositional identity research emerged, inform motivation researchers about the historical and cultural forces that impact the everyday ecology of youth of color. And social psychological perspectives, which launched the study of stereotype threat, have shed new light on the relations between academic achievement and self-esteem of stigmatized groups, a topic that has a long history in research on motivation in African Americans (Graham, 1994). Adopting a multi-disciplinary perspective also encourages the use of multiple methods in motivation research with African Americans. The ethnographic methods of anthropology allow for a richer and more nuanced description of the everyday lives of ethnic minority youth. The type of conflict that some African American adolescents experience between achievement strivings and the desire to be accepted by same-race peers is probably best captured by the ethnographic studies that followed the inaugural research of Fordham and Ogbu (1986). Other phenomena examined in this chapter also have been linked to a particular empirical method. Stereotype threat research from social psychology has mainly been



documented in laboratory experimental studies and contemporary racial identity research mainly draws on correlational studies that measure individual differences in the strength of one’s allegiance to their group. We believe that ethnographic, experimental, and correlational approaches are all necessary to fully capture the dynamics of motivation in African American youth and we hope that researchers will be open to more than one approach in mixed-method studies. It is also the case that understanding multiple methods and the disciplinary perspectives from which they emerge can sometimes be the impetus for new methodological development. For example, one of us (Graham) began a program of research on achievement values among African American adolescents in the wake of reviewing perspectives on that topic from sociology, anthropology, and social psychology. After assessing the pros and cons of the respective correlational, ethnographic, and experimental approaches from these disciplines, we were stimulated to utilize sociometric procedures from the peer relations literature to examine the characteristics of classmates who African American students nominate as those they admire, respect, and want to be like (Graham et al., 1998; Taylor & Graham, 2007). Our rationale for this method was that if we can identify the characteristics of peers whom individuals admire, respect, and want to be like, this tells us something important about the characteristics that they value. We would like to think that our approach has stimulated new and creative ways to conceptualize values within a motivational framework and more awareness of the complex forces associated with ethnic minority status. As in the study of achievement values, the time seems right for other topics in motivation research to draw on perspectives and methods from other disciplines.

The Value of Comparative Racial Research Because our focus in this chapter has been on heterogeneity, or individual differences in motivation within African American youth, we tended to downplay comparative racial research, even though that approach has historically dominated the study of motivation in African Americans (Graham, 1994). Like other scholars who study ethnic minority child development, we are sensitive to the drawbacks of comparative racial/ethnic research. All too often, social class is not accounted for, the emphasis becomes deficits or deviance when the behavior of the majority (White) group is considered normative, and important within-group variability is ignored.

Why Race Matters: African American Youth


We think that there is a role for comparative racial analyses in motivation research if such analyses are carried out with methodological rigor and if they can shed light on process. In our studies on achievement values, we wanted to know whether the devaluing of achievement by adolescent boys was a phenomenon more unique to African Americans and their own particular social, cultural, and historical circumstances, or whether there might be a more general process that was characteristic of ethnic minorities with marginalized status (Graham et al., 1998). We found evidence for the latter possibility by including Latinos and Whites in a comparative framework. Similarly, the oppositional identity literature has encouraged a more thoughtful analysis of adolescents’ endorsement of anti-achievement attitudes to gain peer approval as a robust developmental phenomenon. Comparative racial studies on oppositional identity have documented that the tension between working hard in school and being popular among one’s peers is just as strong among White youth as it is among Black youth (e.g., Ainsworth-Darnell & Downey, 1998; Tyson et al., 2005). In other words, oppositional identity as a motivational phenomenon is far less racialized than it was initially thought to be. Motivation researchers should be alert to other reported differences between racial/ethnic groups that might be masking motivational processes that, in fact, have broad generalizabilty. Comparative racial studies can also be a context for examining mediators, or the mechanisms that explain the relationships between a set of predictors and their correlated outcomes, and moderators, or ‘‘third’’ variables that describe the conditions under which the predicted relations are strong versus weak. Beginning with Baron and Kenny’s (1986) classic article, researchers now have a full battery of statistical methods for detecting mediation and moderation, both separately and in the same model (Edwards & Lambert, 2007). One comparative racial topic in need of meditational analyses is the study of the achievement gap from a motivational perspective. At this point in time we know a lot more about the structural variables such as poverty and inadequate school resources that perpetuate achievement disparities than we know about the motivation-related variables with explanatory potential. As we suggested earlier, neither stereotype threat nor oppositional identity, as important as each phenomenon is for understanding motivation, has withstood rigorous empirical tests of its ability to explain the achievement gap (see Sackett et al., 2004; Warikoo & Carter, 2009). We hope to see more conceptual work on motivational mediators that build on what we have learned from the stereotype threat and oppositional identity literatures and



that tap more deeply into African American students’ views about the relationships between race and schooling. Similarly, we see the value of comparative racial studies that examine whether specific motivational processes are the same or different in particular racial groups (moderator analyses). Some of the early comparative research on locus of control and self-esteem reported that external locus and high self-esteem for African American students compared to White students (see Graham, 1994). Efforts to explain these seemingly counterintuitive comparative racial literatures were in part the impetus for new theorizing about, respectively, the mental health advantages of illusions of control (Taylor & Brown, 1988) and the esteem-protecting strategies used by stigmatized groups (Crocker & Major, 1989). We believe that motivation researchers should be sensitive to other patterns of comparative racial findings that can lead to theory refinement.

Beyond Black and White Most comparative racial research in the motivation literature has focused on Black and White populations. Historically this is understandable. Until recently, African Americans were the largest racial minority group in this country and most school-based research on children of color emerged from the school desegregation literature which was almost exclusively concerned with the school experiences of Black and White children. In the history of motivation research, we see the Black and White focus most clearly in the comparative literature on the achievement motive and locus of control (Graham, 1994). The changing demography of the last generation, driven largely by immigration and differential birth rates in different ethnic groups, has redefined the racial/ethnic landscape in this country. Although Whites are still the majority group in the nation as a whole, African Americans have been surpassed by Latinos as the largest ethnic minority group and Latinos and Asians are now the fastest growing ethnic groups in the country. A K-12 population that was 80% White a generation ago has dropped to 57% White and public schools will soon be the first social institution in the nation without a clear racial/ethnic majority group (Orfield & Lee, 2007). Comparative motivation research will need to cast a broader methodological net to encompass more racially and ethnically diverse samples. These efforts will require addressing complex issues related to language, culture,

Why Race Matters: African American Youth


and generational status that were not an issue when African Americans were the predominant racial minority sample. In motivation studies that include Asian and Latino youth, like with the study of African Americans, it will be important for researchers to be sensitive to within-ethnic group variation, especially that related to country of origin. In addition, with growing housing segregation and decreasing presence of White students in urban schools, motivation researchers will have opportunities to test for theory generality in studies with multi-ethnic samples that do not include White youth and are therefore less vulnerable to criticisms about the presumed normative comparison group.

Encourage Intervention Research We have had rather little to say about interventions to enhance the motivation of African American youth. Sadly, our relative silence on this topic reflects the field in general. There is not a lot of research on how changes in a motivational construct are related to increases in achievement strivings. Of course, there are notable exceptions. In studies with African American youth on changing beliefs about ability, it has been documented that African American college students and middle-school students who were trained to view intelligence as malleable rather than fixed showed significant improvements in their academic performance compared to peers who did not receive the intervention (Aronson, Fried, & Good, 2002; Good, Aronson, & Inzlicht, 2003). Other successful intervention work has shown that ethnic minority youth show improvements in academic behaviors and performance when they learn to draw connections between personal academic identity, social group identity, and concrete strategies for reaching academic goals (Oyserman et al., 2006). We would like to see more intervention research that incorporates constructs from contemporary theories of motivation. Furthermore, if our goal is preventive intervention, then change efforts might be most effective before the critical transition to early adolescence when motivation begins to decline among all youth (Wigfield & Eccles, 2002) and when identity issues and negative stereotypes become salient for African American youth and other ethnic minorities. However, with our emphasis on social context, the burden for motivational change to enhance achievement should not remain solely with the individual student. For example, there is much that teachers can do in the way they provide performance feedback to minimize unintended behavior that might convey low expectations of students (e.g., Graham, 1990) or



activate stereotype threat (Cohen, Steele, & Ross, 1999). Cohen et al. (1999) used the term ‘‘wise feedback’’ to describe how motivation was enhanced when teacher feedback to low-performing African American students was accompanied by both criticism and communicated high expectations rather than undifferentiated praise. Such feedback can shift the attribution for failure away from low ability and toward factors under volitional control, such as lack of effort or poor strategy use. And school administrators should become more sensitized to how policies related to discipline, such as suspension and expulsion, can promote perception of barriers to opportunity and discrimination among ethnic minority adolescents (American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force, 2008). In other words, there are both individual-level variables and structural or systemic factors that need to be targets of motivational interventions for Black students. Such a multi-level approach, albeit challenging, will be the best way for motivation researchers to bring their expertise to bear on ways to enhance the achievement striving of African American youth and make it last.

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Why Race Matters: African American Youth


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Fischer, A. R., & Shaw, C. M. (1999). African Americans’ mental health and perceptions of racist discrimination: The moderating effects of racial socialization experiences and selfesteem. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 46, 395–407. Fisher, C. B., Wallace, S. A., & Fenton, R. E. (2000). Discrimination distress during adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 29(6), 679–695. Fordham, S. (1988). Racelessness as a factor in Black students’ school success: Pragmatic strategy or pyrrhic victory? Harvard Educational Review, 58(1), 54–84. Fordham, S., & Ogbu, J. U. (1986). Black students’ school success: Coping with the ‘‘burden of acting White’’. Urban Review, 18, 176–206. Garcia Coll, C., Crnic, K., Lamberty, G., Wasik, B. H., Jenkins, R., Vasquez-Garcia, H., & McAdoo, H. P. (1996). An integrative model for the study of developmental competencies in minority children. Child Development, 67, 1891–1914. Good, C., Aronson, J., & Inzlicht, N. (2003). Improving adolescents’ standardized test performance: An intervention to reduce the effects of stereotype threat. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 24, 645–662. Graham, S. (1990). On communicating low ability in the classroom. In: S. Graham & V. Folkes (Eds), Attribution theory: Applications to achievement, mental health, and interpersonal conflict (pp. 17–36). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Graham, S. (1994). Motivation in African Americans. Review of Educational Research, 64(1), 55–117. Graham, S. (2006). Peer victimization in school: Exploring the ethnic context. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15, 317–320. Graham, S. (in press). School racial/ethnic diversity and disparities in mental health and academic outcomes. In: G. Carlo & L. Crockett (Eds.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation (Vol. 57). New York: Springer. Graham, S., Bellmore, A., & Mize, J. (2006). Aggression, victimization, and their co-occurrence in middle school. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 34, 363–378. Graham, S., Bellmore, A., Nishina, A., & Juvonen, J. (2009). ‘‘It must be me’’: Ethnic diversity and attributions for victimization in middle school. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 38, 487–499. Graham, S., Taylor, A. Z., & Hudley, C. (1998). Exploring achievement values among ethnic minority early adolescents. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(4), 606–620. Hall, R. E. (2001). The ball curve: Calculated racism and the stereotype of African American men. Journal of Black Studies, 32, 104–119. Harrell, S. (1997). The racism and life experience scales (RaLES). Unpublished manuscript. Harris-Britt, A., Valrie, C., Kurtz-Costes, B., & Rowley, S. J. (2007). Perceived racial discrimination and self-esteem in African American youth: Racial socialization as a protective factor. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 17(4), 669–682. Helms, J. E., Jernigan, M., & Mascher, J. (2005). The meaning of race in psychology and how to change it. American Psychologist, 60(1), 27–36. Holzman, M. (2006). Public education and Black male students: The 2006 state report card. Cambridge, MA: The Schott Foundation for Public Education, Schott Educational Inequity Index. Honora, D. T. (2002). The relationship of gender and achievement to future outlook among African American adolescents. Adolescence, 37(146), 301–316. Hudley, C., & Graham, S. (2001). Stereotypes of achievement striving among early adolescents. Social Psychology of Education, 5(2), 201–224.

Why Race Matters: African American Youth


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Neblett, E. W., Philip, C., Cogburn, C., & Sellers, R. (2006). African American adolescents’ discrimination experiences and academic achievement: Racial socialization as a cultural compensatory and protective factor. Journal of Black Psychology, 32(2), 199–218. Nguyen, H., & Ryan, A. (2008). Does stereotype threat affect test performance of minorities and women? A meta-analysis of experimental evidence. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 1314–1334. Noguera, P. A. (2003). The trouble with Black boys: The role and influence of environmental and cultural factors on the academic performance of Black males. Urban Education, 38(4), 431–459. Nolen, S., & Ward, C. (2008). Sociocultural and situative approaches to studying motivation. In: M. L. Maehr, S. A. Karabenick & T. Urdan (Eds), Advances in motivation and achievement: Social psychological perspectives (Vol. 15, pp. 425–460). Bingley, UK: Emerald. Nyborg, V. M., & Curry, J. F. (2003). The impact of perceived racism: Psychological symptoms among African American boys. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 32, 258–266. O’Connor, C. (1997). Dispositions toward (collective) struggle and educational resilience in the inner city: A case analysis of six African American high school students. American Educational Research Journal, 34(4), 593–629. Ogbu, J. U. (1990). Racial stratification and education. In: G. E. Thomas (Ed.), U.S. race relations in the 1980s and 1990s: Challenges and alternatives (pp. 3–34). New York: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation. Okeke, N., Howard, L. C., Kurtz-Costes, B., & Rowley, S. J. (2009). Academic race stereotypes, academic self-concept, and racial centrality in African American youth. Journal of Black Psychology, 35, 366–387. Orfield, G., & Lee, C. (2007). Historic reversals, accelerating resegregation, and the need for new integration strategies. Los Angeles: Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, UCLA. Osborne, J. W. (1997). Race and academic disidentification. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89(4), 728–735. Oyserman, D. B., Bybee, D., & Terry, K. (2003). Gendered racial identity and involvement with school. Self and Identity, 2(4), 307–324. Oyserman, D., Bybee, D., & Terry, K. (2006). Possible selves and academic outcomes: How and when possible selves impel action. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(1), 188–204. Oyserman, D., Gant, L., & Ager, J. (1995). A socially contextualized model of African American identity: Possible selves and school persistence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(6), 1216–1232. Oyserman, D., & Harrison, K. (1998). Implications of cultural context: African American identity and possible selves. In: J. K. Swim & C. Stangor (Eds), Prejudice: The target’s perspective. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. Perry, T., Steele, C., & Hilliard, A. (2003). Young, gifted, and Black: Promoting high achievement among African-American students. Boston: Beacon Press. Phinney, J. S., & Kohatsu, E. L. (1997). Ethnic and racial identity development and mental health. In: J. Schulenberg, J. L. Maggs & K. Hurrelmann (Eds), Health risks and developmental transitions during adolescence. New York: Cambridge University Press.

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SOCIAL POLICY, EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY, AND CLASSROOM PRACTICE: A CO-REGULATION APPROACH TO RESEARCH ON STUDENT MOTIVATION AND ACHIEVEMENT Mary McCaslin and Alyson Leah Lavigne An emphasis on ecological validity in research on motivation and achievement is overdue; an essential task of researchers in the next decade is to represent students and teachers within the true conditions that they navigate in research on motivation. Schools, classrooms, and the activities within them are not served with generic – or no – representation. In the United States, for example, resources for schools range from plentiful to sufficient to scarce and individual differences are apparent among participants in their readiness for, dispositions toward, and adaptations in school. Society imposes markedly different expectations, regulations, and consequences on these educational institutions and their participants (Baldi, Jin, Skemer, Green, & Herget, 2007; Darling-Hammond, 2007). Attention to the reality of variation in the actual conditions of schooling is necessary if motivation research is to appropriately influence the design, implementation, assessment, and societal valuing of educational institutions and their work. The Decade Ahead: Applications and Contexts of Motivation and Achievement Advances in Motivation and Achievement, Volume 16B, 211–249 Copyright r 2010 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 0749-7423/doi:10.1108/S0749-7423(2010)000016B010




Attention to educational realities will require motivation researchers to build on our intellectual roots and carefully delineate the conditions, tasks, and participant characteristics and behavior that inform conceptual refinement and theoretical development. Conceptual and methodological rigor is all the more important when conducting research in real contexts that demand recognition of problem complexity and real-world constraints on potential solutions. The impact of school reform policies on classroom motivational dynamics and achievement is an important consideration for motivation researchers first because they influence the realized conditions of schooling and, thus, the constraints on and affordances of participants’ motivation. Second, school reform policies target citizens’ beliefs about the purpose of schools, interpretation of ‘‘the problem’’ with them, and conceptions of how they ought to be improved. For example, policy makers define school improvement or excellence with proximal measures of competitive or high test scores and distal measures of graduation and college success rates. There are multiple and potentially conflicting paths that lead toward policy-maker goals that differ motivationally in important ways in the short and the long term. The relative costs of goal pursuit fueled by ‘‘hope for success’’ (Atkinson, 1964) or ‘‘approach motivation’’ (e.g., Elliot & Dweck, 2005) differ markedly from those fueled by ‘‘fear of failure’’ (Atkinson, 1964) or ‘‘avoidance motivation’’ (Brunstein & Heckhausen, 2008; Elliot & Dweck, 2005). Student aspiration and achievement are meant to be instrumental beyond the school preparation phase to the ultimate realization of contributing citizenship. However, proximal achievement on mandated tests driven by fear of failure can undermine if not defeat the long-term goal of productive citizenship. Motivation researchers can do much to illuminate goal–path clarity (Lewin, 1935) and potentially hidden costs in school reform policies. Finally, we suggest that motivation researchers take their place at the teacher education table (see also McCaslin & Hickey, 2001). We need to get our work into the curriculum, instruction, and practica that prepare teachers. And we need to get it right. It begins with understanding the actual (and the actual variation in) conditions of teaching and how teachers adapt to them. Teachers know a lot about the demands of teaching that is constrained by prescribed standards, curricula, and assessments to whole classes of students who will be held accountable for their learning in nontrivial ways (Good, 2009; Kennedy, 2005). They also know a lot about curriculum adaptation and innovation to negotiate those requirements to better support their students’ learning (Corno, 2008; Randi & Corno, 1997). Motivation researchers lose credibility when the constructs they employ just do not match that reality. Simple calls for student choice, for example,

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do not map onto the conditions of schooling for many students and teachers (McCaslin, Good, et al., 2006; Wiley, Good, & McCaslin, 2008). Indeed, some would argue that it was choice – the ‘‘cafeteria-style curriculum in which appetizers and desserts can easily be mistaken for the main courses’’ (National Commission on Excellence in Education (NCEE), 1983; Powell, Farrar, & Cohen, 1986) – that ‘‘got us into this mess’’ in the first place. Researchers might better direct attention to the function of task novelty, difficulty, and sequencing in student motivation to learn basic facts and skills. How might opportunities for new work, practice to mastery, and performance demands – which better serve the sociocultural accountability requirements placed on schooling – function in student motivational dynamics and achievement? How might instructional formats mediate them? For example, is new work best supported by individualized instruction? Practice in small groups? Performance in whole class? What are the tradeoffs in the short term, on state-mandated tests, over the long haul? Do motivational dynamics differ in instructional formats that promote concept learning, problem solving, or transfer? For which students? Teachers who are knowledgeable about motivational dynamics in real classroom settings can better realize their educational goals for students and conduct action research on their own practice. We believe that motivation matters and motivation researchers are missing a critical opportunity to participate in the current social policy emphases on the improvement of teacher preparation, particularly in colleges of education (Rich, 2009; Sawchuk, 2009). We hope that the next decade of research on motivation pays particular attention to the preparation of, and partnership with, teachers. Toward that goal, we first discuss what we mean by a ‘‘co-regulation’’ approach to research on student motivation and achievement (McCaslin, 2009). Second, we illustrate its usefulness in organizing research to prioritize real participants within real contexts.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: THE CO-REGULATION MODEL Bruner (1985) once challenged learning theorists to define their model of the learner rather than design curriculum and instruction materials directed at a vague, and perhaps nonexistent, target. We suggest that motivation theorists do the same. The model of co-regulated learning that we describe



(McCaslin, 2009) first posits learners who: (1) are social by nature (biological adaptations) and by nurture (socialization) (Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Geary, 2002; Olson & McCaslin, 2008); (2) have basic needs for participation and validation that can inform student dispositions toward school (McCaslin & Burross, 2008); and (3) differ in how and in what they participate – their adaptation (McCaslin & Burross, in press, p. xx). Second, the co-regulation model of the learner asserts that motivation and identity are mutually informative; what I am and am not willing to do inform who I am and the person I might become. Both motivation and identity are based on opportunities denied, taken, or missed and on the interpersonal relationships that do or do not support and validate them. Opportunities and relationships are based, in part, on cultural norms and challenges that delineate individuals historically and presently in time and place (see McCaslin, 2009 for full explication of these and related constructs). Motivation is at the core of identity. Thus, motivations of today’s learners inform not only their school achievements, but also the adults they may become. If motivation is the core of emergent identity now and in the future, what then is at the core of motivation?

Motivation and Opportunity The co-regulation model proposed by McCaslin (2009) has developed over the years; however, throughout it has been steeped in the Vygotskian tradition of social origins of higher psychological processes (Vygotsky, 1962, 1978) and neo-Vygotskian activity theory perspectives (e.g., Kozulin, 1986; Leontiev, 1974–1975; Penuel & Wertsch, 1995; Wertsch, 1985; Zinchenko, 1985). It differs from modern cognitive and social cognitive theories that consider motivated behavior to be based on choices or decisions that individuals make with respect to their goals, beliefs, or values (Bandura, 1997; Eccles, 2005; Elliot & Dweck, 2005). In the co-regulation perspective, choice, when possible, can be motivating; however, choice is only one venue for motivational dynamics. Even in situations in which choice is possible, that is, there actually is more than one known and accessible alternative, the choice construct can be misleading because so much of what we do and why is not particularly mindful, knowledgeable, or strategic (McCaslin, 2009, p. 138). Decision making and choice conceptions of motivation are based on a rational model of the decision/choice maker; it substitutes logical for psychological processes. Motivation is distanced from desire and disposition. In contrast, in the Vygotskian tradition, the affective and intellectual

Co-regulation Approach to Research on Student Motivation


are fused in higher order psychological processes. Decision strategies and heuristics (e.g., Johnson-Laird & Watson, 1977), trees (e.g., Edwards, 1954), probabilities (e.g., Yates, 1990), worksheets (e.g., Halpern, 1996), and the like (e.g., deliberate information processing schema; Winne, 2001) do not make choices; people do – and often not that well (e.g., Dawes, 1979; Kahneman, 2003; Kahneman, Slovic, & Tversky, 1982; Nisbett & Wilson, 1977; cf. Simon, 1969/1981). In addition to mindfulness and knowledge then, the notion of choice requires some recognition of appetite (e.g., needs, wishes, and desires) – some of which may be accessible to consciousness (or ‘‘explicit’’) and some not so much (or ‘‘implicit’’) (e.g., Brunstein, 2008; Brunstein & Maier, 2005) – and a need for emotional regulation. Each of these caveats – mindfulness, knowledge, appetite, and emotional regulation – involves learning. Learning requires opportunity and opportunity to learn to make choices is not equitably distributed. Learning to make choices is not a minor task: wrong choices can derail and getting back on track, another learned skill, can be difficult or irrelevant (McCaslin & Murdock, 1991). Together, these considerations seriously restrict the usefulness of choice as a basic motivational construct, especially in classrooms where choices can be rare (McCaslin, Good, et al., 2006; Wiley et al., 2008). Typically students, no matter what their prevailing opportunities at home, do not have the problem of optimally selecting from an array of desired options in school. The co-regulation model of motivation then, although it allows the possibility of choice, places the constructs of struggle and negotiation central to motivational dynamics: struggle because some situations (e.g., conflicts) require it of most individuals, and some individuals, no matter what the situations, must struggle more; negotiation, because some opportunities, be they conflicts or goals of whatever magnitude, may not, often do not, afford optimal solutions. Negotiation is about problem solving and compromise as a way if not to make progress, then at least to not stand still or regress. It can involve substitution of a more readily available goal for a more desirable but unavailable one (Freud & Strachey, 1962; Lewin, 1935) and ‘‘satisficing’’ or settling for ‘‘good enough’’ (Simon, 1969/1981), when personal best is too much to handle in the context of competing demands. Struggle and negotiation ‘‘remind us that we can’t have it all (as the approach–approach conflict exemplifies), that much of what we want comes with a cost (approach–avoidance conflict) and sometimes our wants or needs apparently do not matter (avoidance–avoidance)’’ (McCaslin, 2009, p. 139). As this analysis suggests, opportunities – be they positive, disruptive, or detrimental – are a fundamental component of motivational dynamics.



Modern volitional theories, in the tradition of Heckhausen (1980/1991) and Heckhausen and Heckhausen (2008), have much to offer in this conceptualization. If struggle and negotiation can serve as placeholders for the pre-decisional ‘‘choice deliberation’’ or actual decision-making phases of the Rubicon Model, then post-decisional volitional strategies that support decision implementation (e.g., intention protection) or personal mediating qualities such as action or state orientation (Corno, 1993; Kuhl, 1981, 2008) can enrich and broaden the concept of motivation. One clear advantage of this elaboration is the reestablishment of realized action in a motivational episode as originally proposed by Hull (1951) and supported by McClelland (1985) (see McCaslin, Bozack, et al., 2006 for more complete discussion of these issues). Motivation in this case is one component in a stream of adaptive activity that embraces affect, cognition, and behavior – within the affordances and constraints of context. Adaptation is a particularly useful construct in the co-regulation perspective because it reminds us that humans by their very nature are social beings who are both biologically predisposed and socialized to participate in social settings. ‘‘Self’’ then is embedded in – adapted to – the ‘‘social,’’ which includes opportunities and relationships that in turn afford participation and interpersonal validation (McCaslin & Burross, in press, p. xx).

Co-regulation and Personal–Cultural–Social Press The co-regulation model is but one manifestation of the potential of sociocultural perspectives and recognition of the essential role of context (see, e.g., Arnold, 2005; Greeno, 2006; Hadwin & Jarvenoja, in press; Hickey, 2003; McInerney & Van Etten, 2004; Perry, Turner, & Meyer, 2006; Turner, this volume; Walker, this volume; Walker, Pressick-Kilborn, Arnold, & Sainsbury, 2004). Recent reviews of the diversity of perspectives within the sociocultural tradition further suggest the power this theoretical approach has to generate research, test, and refine theoretical constructs (e.g., Hadwin & Jarvenoja, in press; Nolen & Ward, 2008; Volet, Vauras, & Salonen, 2009). The co-regulation model we present asserts that personal, cultural, and social influences simultaneously press and co-regulate – challenge, shape, and guide – motivation and emergent identity. The emphasis of the co-regulation model is on the reciprocal relationships and tensions – the press – among the personal, cultural, and social sources of influence. The reciprocal press among them – the potential challenges, struggles, and compromise – co-regulates motivation and, thus, emergent identity.

Co-regulation Approach to Research on Student Motivation

Fig. 1.


Co-regulation Model of Emergent Identity. From McCaslin (2009).

Reciprocal tensions are not necessarily smoothly or conclusively resolved; a given resolution in turn affects each influence source, maintaining mutual press among them. The co-regulation model suggests a continuous underlying dialectic dynamic that may manifest differently. It allows us to consider, for example, the motivational struggles and compromises of those who have, have not, and have more cultural capital, social support, and personal resources. The co-regulation model suggests these differences are not trivial. As portrayed in Fig. 1, personal influences in the co-regulation model are about individual readiness and potential. Personal resources include, for example, biology, temperament, and dispositions as they ‘‘are’’ to the individual, expected by the culture, and socially validated (or not). Individual potential is more (e.g., explicit motivation) and less (e.g., implicit motivation) accessible to individual awareness and other interpretation. Social influences include opportunities and relationships that are practicable, that can and do influence how people cope with and adapt to everyday experiences. Practicable–potential tensions may seem the primary stuff of motivational dynamics; however, the co-regulation model attends as well to cultural influences. Cultural influences set the norms and challenges that define what is probable for persons and cultural institutions. It is the



dimension that social psychologists tap when studying stereotype threat dynamics (e.g., Steele, 1997; Steele & Aronson, 1995). Probable in the co-regulation model is not inevitable, however, because personal and social influences can resist or work to change cultural expectations and regulations. It is important to note that no source of influence is equally distributed. One result, then, is differential opportunity for personally desirable, culturally valued, socially validated adaptive learning (see also McCaslin & Burross, in press). It is not a generic, let alone an even, playing field. This is the perspective we bring to our analysis of motivation, the public school, and school reform initiatives; it is the basic premise that underlies our call for motivation research in the coming decade. It is time that motivation researchers attend to the manifestations of potential–probable–practicable tensions in the real worlds of the public school.

FROM THEORY TO RESEARCH: SCHOOLS AS SOCIOCULTURAL INSTITUTIONS One manifestation of the press of potential–probable–practicable tensions is the variation in the conditions and expectations of ‘‘the public school’’ (Madaus, Russell, & Higgins, 2009; Rothstein, 2000). The public school is, in fact, a multi-tiered system that at its best does quite well (Berliner & Biddle, 1995); however, much less than best is a given for millions of students – 7.3 million in 2005–2006 – who attend schools identified for improvement (Stevenson, Schertzer, & Ham, 2008). At minimum, motivation researchers need to acknowledge the reality of a differentiated education system, the differential funding that contributes to it (e.g., Biddle, 1997; Good & McCaslin, 2008; Natriello, 1996; Oakes, Ormseth, Bell, & Camp, 1990), and what that means for participant motivation and achievement. Recent school– district bond and override initiatives in Arizona illustrate how this can unfold. In Tucson, voters from the least affluent school district (with its share of ‘‘needs improvement’’ elementary schools) rejected proposed funding initiatives, whereas voters in the most affluent district (with all elementary schools ‘‘excelling’’) approved theirs. On hearing the results, the least affluent district announced cuts to fine arts, physical education, and technology upgrades. Their students will continue to wait in line for spotty Internet access. Their world just got smaller; less interesting; and less healthy; not so for the students of affluence.

Co-regulation Approach to Research on Student Motivation


Most students who attend ‘‘needs improvement’’ schools also reside in poverty; many of these students also confront the challenges of mobility – their own and that of their peers and teachers (McCaslin & Burross, 2008). To study their motivation without deliberate understanding of the conditions to which they and their teachers adapt is to misrepresent the phenomenon of putative interest, fail to inform a viable improvement strategy, and diminish the validity of motivational constructs and theory for them. At minimum, motivation researchers surely can inform a better understanding of these students’ motivation and opportunity to achieve than that represented by high-stakes testing mandates, mandates that, if anything, appear to be energized rather than diminished in the Obama administration’s discussion of revisions to No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), discussed subsequently. Motivation researchers can help define key reform constructs such as ‘‘high quality,’’ ‘‘value-added,’’ and ‘‘effective’’ – each of which has attained mantra qualities in school reform policies without careful consideration of definition and related implications. In short, we argue that the tensions among the potential–probable– practicable sources of influence are important considerations for motivation research methods and construct development if motivation research is to impact and improve the conditions of schooling and the motivation of its participants. The co-regulation model can serve as an organizational guide to that goal.

Probable Tensions: Beliefs about the Public School Cultural influences do not function as a unitary press in the co-regulation model; rather, there are tensions among cultural influences that can be harnessed to better understand motivational dynamics in school. For example, the media are one sociocultural institution that provide a rather steady stream of negative information about public schools and evaluation of the teachers they employ and the students who attend them (Rich, 2009; Nichols & Berliner, 2007; Nichols & Good, 2004). How representative is that portrayal? Media veracity is a critical issue because media are so pervasive; they inform the everydayness of what we assume to be true. Media tell us what we know about ‘‘out there.’’ We examined the Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes toward the Public Schools for the years 2005–2009 (Bushaw & Gallup, 2008; Bushaw & McNee, 2009; Rose & Gallup, 2005, 2006, 2007) to explore the congruence of these data with media portrayals of citizens’ attitudes toward



the public school. Overall, and in contrast to media reports of declining citizen support of education as a given, these polls repeatedly found that citizens’ approval ratings of their community schools have remained ‘‘high and remarkably stable’’ (2006, pp. 42–43). At issue is how you ask the question. In 2005, Rose and Gallup found that citizens held two quite distinct views of the public school, one about ‘‘the nation’s’’ schools and the other about the schools in their community. Citizens disapproved of ‘‘the nation’s’’ schools but valued their own; the level of support for local schools increased with contact (e.g., 69% of parents grade their oldest child’s school either an A or a B). In 2006, Rose and Gallup again found that citizens especially valued their local public schools and believed that the difficulties that schools faced were the result of societal issues, not the quality of schooling. In 2007, these patterns were replicated, with somewhat less approval of community schools and somewhat more approval of oldest child’s school as compared to 2006. The 2007 poll allowed a trend analysis of citizen evaluation of NCLB policies. Results indicated that the more the public learned about NCLB, the less favorable their views about it became; early citizen preference for student improvement as a measure of effectiveness (rather than simple passing scores) maintained. The 2008 polls continue citizens’ valuing of their community and oldest child’s school – the latter at the highest recorded level in 15 years. Results from the 2008 poll also found that Americans viewed Barack Obama as more supportive of public education than the Republican candidate (Bushaw & Gallup, 2008). This was a notable change in public opinion from 2000 and 2004 when political party was not associated with support for the public school. Americans trusted Obama and supported an increase in federal funds for local schools. By 2008 less than 20% of citizens supported NCLB; however, there was an increase in support of vouchers for private schools. Additionally, 2008 data revealed a decrease in support of charter schools, ending a five-year trend of increasing support. This brings us to 2009 (Bushaw & McNee, 2009). Citizen evaluation of their community schools equaled the highest score ever given – which was in 2001 (ironically, the year of the NCLB) – and 75% rated their oldest child’s school positively – the highest ever recorded. So, while the citizens’ attitudes toward ‘‘the nation’s’’ schools continue to be negative, their belief in the quality of their local schools is consistently positive. Positive attitudes may not be enough, however. Previously, we noted the results of our local school support initiatives in Tucson. The same less-affluent district that soundly rejected financial supports for the schools

Co-regulation Approach to Research on Student Motivation


in 2009 positively evaluated its effectiveness earlier that year (retrieval date October 11, 2009). Ninety-seven percent of students (N ¼ 5,550) in grades K-2 agreed or strongly agreed (akin to PDK grades of A and B) with the item, ‘‘I like my school.’’ And 81% of students (N ¼ 24,043) in grades 3–12 agreed or strongly agreed with the item, ‘‘Overall, I am very satisfied with my school.’’ Parents concur: 92% of parents (N ¼ 19,171) agreed or strongly agreed with the item, ‘‘Overall, I am very satisfied with my child’s school.’’ What about the instructional staff? More of the same: 87% of staff (N ¼ 4,645) agreed or strongly agreed with the item, ‘‘Overall, I am very satisfied with my school.’’ You certainly would not know this by reading the local paper or counting the votes. There is at least some ambiguity in citizens’ beliefs and behavior when it comes to the public school. There also is room for study of participants’ conceptions of what schools are for that is of interest to motivation researchers in the expectancy-value tradition: what is the role of participant satisfaction in learning and achievement? In sum, survey results suggest that first, ‘‘It seems fair to say it would be a mistake to shape public policy decisions on data regarding the nation’s schools. The schools in the community are the ones the public knows about and cares about’’ (Rose & Gallup, 2007, p. 40). And citizens currently approve of those schools at record levels. Second, citizens have lost faith in NCLB. Citizens also have begun to doubt the viability of charter schools; recent research suggests that they are right to do so (Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), 2009). So, what does this mean for the fate of school reform policies? The disconnect between citizen beliefs about their schools and media representations of them continues unabated and policy makers appear to be mostly in agreement with the media, yet more strategic. Recently both Education Secretary Duncan and President Obama have repeatedly expressed their grave concerns about the crisis of the public school. School improvement has been equated with the moral imperative of the civil rights movement. Recognition of distinctive citizen beliefs about ‘‘their’’ and ‘‘the’’ public school appears limited, but nonetheless is acknowledged somewhat. Administration language about the public school and its participants consistently includes recognition of variation in quality. This seemingly allows for the ‘‘bad schools out there’’ and the ‘‘good one here’’ mindset of citizens. It does not quite solve the dichotomy, however. At a certain point the bad schools out there and the good school here are the same. Bushaw and McNee (2009) put it more bluntly: ‘‘y public school reformers fear that the [community and child’s school] results show that Americans are overly satisfied with the schools in their community and, consequently, less open to reform efforts’’ (p. 10). The problem of the public



school in 2009 sounds a lot like the problem in 1983. Again, there is a crisis; again, there is a problem of parent satisfaction. In what ways might current conceptions of reform build on and differ from those that have come before? This seems an important question to consider so that researchers might anticipate motivational challenges, obstacles, and opportunities embedded in the next wave of school reform policies.

School Reform Policies, 1983–2001 McCaslin (2006) analyzed school reform initiatives for their conception of ‘‘the problem with the public school.’’ The problem definitions and solutions manifested in A Nation at Risk (1983), the National Education Summit Policy Statement (1996), and NCLB were examined for their beliefs about student motivation to learn. These beliefs were then compared with research illustrations of student motivation obtained in each reform period. Results suggested the importance of deliberate study of how ‘‘the problem with education’’ is defined in school reform initiatives because these definitions inform solution strategies that impact classroom opportunities and relationships that co-regulate student motivation. Solution strategies that in hindsight, solved or at least reduced, one perceived problem only to create another (Good, 2009). The sequential corrective nature of school reform policies is a part of classroom life and, as such, is a part of research on the motivational dynamics that unfold there. And potentially unfold at home: many of today’s middle- and high-school parents likely were the (infamous) students of the A Nation at Risk (1983) era. And their parents were explicitly chastised in A Nation at Risk: But your right to a proper education for students carries a double responsibility. y You must be a living example of what you expect your students to honor and to emulate. Moreover, you bear a responsibility to participate actively in your child’s education. y Above all, exhibit a commitment to continued learning in your own life. (NCEE, 1983, p. 35, emphasis in original)

In contrast, parents whose students are now entering elementary school likely experienced the reforms of the mid-1990s. Although reform rhetoric typically focuses on the problem of the public school today, schooling is an intergenerational affair. These are not small differences in the experiences of school and an important question for motivation research is how these different experiences influence parent or in some cases, grandparent,

Co-regulation Approach to Research on Student Motivation


expectations of, beliefs about, and support for their children’s education and motivation to learn. We briefly review these reforms first to trace changing beliefs about learning and motivation that may live under the same roof. Second, we illustrate how prior reform solution strategies, and thus motivational contexts, are emerging in the post-NCLB discussions of the Obama/Duncan administration. A Nation At Risk A Nation at Risk (1983) emerged in a time of economic insecurities; unemployment was high and parents were more worried about finances than their children’s schools and achievements, which they considered good enough. A Nation at Risk got attention by linking the two: national security was based on economic security; economic security was based on educational attainment. Those students, today’s middle- and high-school parents, are again facing the linkages between economic security and educational attainment – especially with the dramatic loss or outsourcing of jobs that required more work ethic and physical skill than advanced education. The economic security–educational excellence reasoning continues in each subsequent school reform initiative: it is in the interest of national security and solvency that American students achieve. Just what students are to achieve, however, differs across the documents. A Nation at Risk essentially equated learning with work and work ethics in school were congruent with those desired in the adult workplace. School reforms in this era were all about attaining efficiency through automaticity that derived from more work (e.g., homework), more time on task (e.g., more school days), and more effort – even as tasks were designed to ensure lots of success (Rohrkemper & Corno, 1988). One result of this reform effort was policymakers’ continued disappointment with student achievement rankings on cross-national tests; another was the emergence of a lack of correspondence between student self-concept and educational attainment. To the dismay of some (e.g., Tomlinson, 1992) and the support of others (e.g., Covington, 1992), U.S. students felt good about themselves even as their international rankings fell. In hindsight, A Nation at Risk may well have exacerbated the ‘‘problem with the public school’’ when it demanded more student (and teacher and parent) contact with basic facts and skills curricula and instructional opportunities based on speed of acquisition. Students were doing what they were asked to do; teachers were delivering a coherent behavioral curriculum and management system. Rewards were the classroom capital of the day (current rates of consumer debt suggest that students of the era got the



acquisition of reinforcements part down pretty well). Not surprisingly, when the new ‘‘problem with the public school’’ was discovered, it turned out not to be mediocre student achievement; the new problem was that students were achieving (even more of) a mediocre curriculum. The National Education Summit Enter the National Education Summit Policy Statement (1996). It called for higher standards and access to technology for everyone. Standards were implicitly linked to a national curriculum that focused on meaningful learning, problem solving, and knowledge generation. Students now were not so much workers as they were active learners. New emphases on learning contexts emerged as business leaders were concerned about employee interpersonal skills and dispositions. These concerns matched the changing emphases in learning and instructional theories of the time. ‘‘Constructivism’’ with its emphases on active learner engagement and ‘‘social constructivism’’ emphases on the social origins of higher psychological processes were making their mark on the pursuit of higher standards within the context of authentic tasks in small group settings (e.g., projectbased science; Blumenfeld, Krajcik, Marx, & Soloway, 1994). ‘‘Small-group learning formats presumably afforded acquisition and enactment of cooperative values and behaviors; authentic tasks afforded the fusion of generation of knowledge, meaningful learning and relevant contribution; and interaction with peers afforded the development of higher-order thinking to reach higher standards’’ (McCaslin, 1996, p. 481). As it turned out, however, small group learning was not all it was touted to be and attaining higher standards took more than active learners and higher expectations. The Summit was lacking a viable representation of student as social being even as it built models of instruction on peer interaction, an instructional format that confounded peer learners with social/physical resources. In our research, positive group participation was not related to participant achievement and positive peer contributions did not mediate the detrimental effects of anxiety on learning (McCaslin et al., 1994). More students on task together did not increase the quality of their learning, at least as measured in cross-national assessment comparisons. However, it certainly made research on motivation in classrooms, especially discourse analyses, more interesting (e.g., Wood, 2008). Over the decade, student achievement continued to disappoint policy makers. Students were not rising to the occasion of interesting and varied curricula and real-world opportunities to tackle challenge. In the Nation at Risk era, time to work with basic facts and skills had failed to fix the

Co-regulation Approach to Research on Student Motivation


‘‘problem with the public school.’’ In the Summit reform era, interpersonal supports in the embrace of challenging learning and pursuit of excellence did not fix it either. But both reforms did succeed in their own way, exacerbating yet another ‘‘problem with the public school’’: the widening gap between the haves and have-nots, A gap that is not only about differential funding and access to curricula (e.g., that confounds school and learner resources with curriculum opportunity), but also about the quality of that exposure (McCaslin & Good, 1996). NCLB embraced this gap as its cornerstone and introduced yet another metaphor for students. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 NCLB sought to bring classroom opportunities to students in urban and rural areas that would in turn bring their test performance more in line with their suburban and affluent peers. In its enactment, however, NCLB has focused on the goal – student performance – rather than on the expressed path – research-based teaching practices – to its attainment. In NCLB the money is riding on summative state assessment. In the language of NCLB, reform initiatives do not fail, schools do, especially if schools fail to teach – and teach well – what state governments test, which also vary in content, quality, and criteria for success. The demands of NCLB are mostly felt by schools that receive federal support and that serve students of poverty. NCLB incorporates the beliefs of A Nation at Risk that students need to work harder and longer with a call for higher standards as expressed in the Summit. It differs from each in an essential aspect, however. The acquiring worker in A Nation at Risk and the active learner of the Summit is now the high-stakes performer in NCLB. This is not a minor issue for motivation researchers. The reinforcement-ready worker of A Nation at Risk and the challenged active learner of the Summit is now the anxious test taker of NCLB. Arguably, the motivational fuel of A Nation at Risk was validated success; in the Summit it was engaged interest. In NCLB the motivational fuel is fear avoidance and it is the law. And it has failed. The most recent release of the ‘‘Nation’s Report Card’’ (National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 2009) found a plateau in the mathematics achievement (based on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data) of students in grades four and eight between 2007 and 2009. Long-standing proponents of NCLB now join its critics and agree: NCLB has failed. The achievement gap continues; gap reduction was not a viable solution strategy for the problem of the public school. We suspect that one consequence of gap reduction as problem solution was that it afforded disparate challenge/skill ratios (Rohrkemper & Corno, 1988)



between schools. Affluent schools may have inadvertently under-stimulated students while struggling schools over-stimulated them (McCaslin, 2006). Affluent students, for example, mostly know how to read, write, and apply mathematical algorithms as required on state-mandated tests. They learn these skills in multiple settings in their life – home, school, and special lessons. One predictable outcome of their exposure to more of the same in the service of relatively easily attained test performance is tedium. How these students learn to harness their motivation to cope with tedium becomes part of their school reform policy. In contrast, less-advantaged students who are more likely to learn about school skills in school may be over-stimulated by the sheer amount of content to be learned, the pace at which that is to occur, and the consequences if it does not happen. How these students learn to harness their motivation to cope with frustration and anxiety is part of their school reform policy. It is not surprising from a motivational perspective that the representation of the problem with the public school – the socioeconomic gap in student achievement – and its solution – gap reduction – may have instead exacerbated differential motivational dynamics among participants. Attention to how students adapt to educational conditions can inform motivational dynamics in nontrivial ways. For example, more affluent students held to a standard readily attained may be learning entitlement – to expect success with little investment. In contrast, less-affluent students who are exposed to conditions that foster fear of failure may be learning that relief is as good as it gets – until the next time. As motivation researchers we need to get smarter about these dynamics especially because post-NCLB discussions appear to accept the gap as a viable, perhaps dominant, representation of one problem with the public school. However, in the postNCLB discussions, it is no longer ‘‘the problem with the public school.’’ It is the ‘‘problems.’’ We need to learn from the motivational assumptions and effects of the problem representations and solution strategies of past reforms if we are to anticipate and influence the next reform instantiation and its effects on teacher and student motivation.

POST-NCLB REAUTHORIZATION DISCUSSION Unfortunately for us, as chapter authors, the reauthorization of NCLB has been delayed until 2010. Fortunately for citizens, however, this delay is being used by the administration to involve more perspectives in reform possibilities (e.g., Duncan’s 50-state ‘‘Listening and Learning Tour’’).

Co-regulation Approach to Research on Student Motivation


The Obama administration, notably through Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, however, has begun to speak out in recent months on the problems with the public school. Historically, education in the United States is a state and local responsibility and technically, the federal government cannot actually tell states what to do. But it can ‘‘persuade’’ them, and this appears to be the foundation of potential Obama administration reforms. The stick approach embedded in NCLB threatened loss of federal funds for or closure of schools that failed to meet federal performance benchmarks. The Obama administration has augmented the stick approach with a sizable carrot: states have the opportunity to compete among themselves for a chance to ‘‘win’’ some of the 5 billion dollars in education grants that were authorized by Congress as part of the stimulus package. Getting into the game is defined by a seemingly expanding point system. Points are awarded to states that: participate in the development of national standards in mathematics and language arts, with science and social science to follow; support the development of uniform assessments and work with other states to form consortia to implement them (only larger consortia units will be eligible to compete for federal grants); allow the use of student achievement data to determine teacher effectiveness; and support charter schools (McNeil, 2009). The common standards initiative is being led by the National Governors Association (recall the Summit, 1996) and the Council of Chief State School Officers. All states, with the exception of Texas and Alaska, have agreed to support common (not ‘‘national’’) standards. At present (November 5, 2009), 10 states are in the process of changing laws, with the support of state teacher unions, to allow linking student test performance with specific teachers so that teacher pay can be tied to student performance and/or to ease restrictions on budget cuts or charter schools. More states are likely to follow. That is a lot of ante and that is only to get a chance to play the game, ‘‘Race to the Top.’’ Duncan does not expect more than 10–20 states to be funded and he is the sole decision-maker. The Obama administration considers entry points as evidence of being part of the solution, ‘‘Frankly, we’re going to invest in states that are part of the solution and states that aren’t part of the solution are going to have a rough time.’’ He has warned school officials that there must be a return on the federal investment with better graduation rates and students successful in college. The administration shares these goals with the Gates Foundation, which is heavily involved in government discussions about and funding of school reform. This private–public relationship troubles some, but not Duncan: ‘‘The more all of us are in the game of reform, the more all of us are pushing for dramatic



improvement, the better’’ (Associated Press, October 19, 2009). It is a highstakes ‘‘game’’ for all concerned.

What Is To Be done? At present four broad reform goals have been announced that the administration wants the states to pursue: tougher academic standards; better ways to recruit, pay, and retain ‘‘effective’’ teachers; methods for keeping track of student performance over time; and plans for improvement of failing schools. Tougher academic standards include higher standards, more time on them, and assessment of their attainment – an integration of the three previous reforms, the Summit, A Nation at Risk, and NCLB, respectively – and then some.

Tougher Academic Standards Higher Standards. Recent Math Panel reports (e.g., Good, 2008) that emphasize the function of conceptual understanding and reasoning en route to problem solving suggest that curriculum foci may once again address the path from basic facts and algorithmic skills (of the Nation at Risk and NCLB eras) to problem recognition, representation, and solving (of the Summit-era plan). A curriculum focus on conceptual understanding affords motivation researchers an important opportunity to influence curriculum. Knowledge acquisition or ‘‘meaningful verbal learning’’ (Ausubel, 1963) affords renewed consideration of motivation variables like interest, variety, and discovery (e.g., Renninger, Hidi, & Krapp, 1992) that are so powerful in this curricular domain. Research on the motivational dynamics afforded by instructional learning goal seems especially fruitful. For example, motivational dynamics afforded by meaningful knowledge acquisition may well differ from those supported by basic fact and skill acquisition and automaticity (that can fuel tedium yet feed especially well on extrinsic reinforcements) and problem solving (that requires delay of gratification that can frustrate and defeat all but the most able and/or achievementmotivated student). Motivation researchers (and hopefully policy makers) will want to acquaint themselves with curriculum philosophy and materials like those developed by E. D. Hirsch for the Comprehensive School Reform program, Core Knowledge (CK). These materials provide a wealth of

Co-regulation Approach to Research on Student Motivation


insight into the motivational affordances of available curriculum materials and tasks and the motivated activity of the students who engage them. Engaging students in challenging materials, particularly those students who are used to a steady diet of small challenge and minimal change in classroom tasks, can be supported by programs such as Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound (ELOB). ELOB provides one conceptualization of individual differences in student motivational dynamics and how these may interact with instructional opportunity. ELOB, also designed for Comprehensive School Reform programs, is based on the work of Kurt Hahn, a German educator of the first half of the 20th century. Hahn was concerned with youth and the development of individual character by discovering one’s interests and ‘‘grand passion’’ through action and reflection – which require opportunities, time, and supportive relationships. ELOB complements CK and also addresses the motivational dynamics of those learners who must overcome their fear of inadequacy if they are to engage meaningful learning and self-discovery. ELOB teachers help students overcome these fears and discover the integrity of struggle and that they are made of ‘‘more’’ than they think. ELOB provides a well-articulated model of motivated student learning that can serve as a provocative road map for research on student motivational dynamics and the conditions that impede and support them, particularly for students at risk. More Time. Time is an essential variable in school reform policies; it also is an essential variable in most learning theories. Arguably, the most influential learning theory for school reform initiatives is that proposed by Carroll (1963). Carroll redefined aptitude for learning from the thenprevailing belief in learning level (i.e., aptitude sets the limit on how much can be learned) to one of learning rate (i.e., aptitude determines how long it takes to learn). Aptitude defined as learning rate recast the relationship between instructional opportunity and student learning in fundamental ways. Learning became a function of time spent compared with time needed; time spent is a function of student perseverance and instructional opportunity; time needed is a function of learning rate, quality of instruction, and ability to understand instruction. We have already noted how the Obama administration approaches opportunity to learn; here we present their perspective on time. The Obama administration wants schools open longer within a day, for more days during the school year (e.g., weekends), and a longer school year (October 2009). Consider the differential impact of longer school days and/or more of them. This policy surely will have ramifications on families



whose children ride buses to and from school in the dark, parent–child time together, parent–school relationships, and the very notion of ‘‘family’’ as school occupies an even larger share of a child’s waking hours and commitments. What about within classrooms? Will more time together (further) empower teacher–student relationships? Dilute them? Are classrooms to become more home-like? If so, whose home? These questions and concerns emerged in response to the Nation at Risk plans for increased time in school (see Alexander, Entwistle, Cadigan, & Pallas, 1987; Corno, 1989; Noddings, 1992 for differing views on this issue). It is useful to review these concerns and what was learned then about increases in time that resulted. The Nation at Risk reform era was the first to propose increased time spent on instruction as a way to fix the problem of public schools. According to policy makers students were not working hard enough and were not spending enough time in school. Thus, policy makers extended time in school by increasing homework, the length of the school day, and the length of the school year; however, implementation of such recommendations was slow. Even 10 years following A Nation at Risk only 27% of high schools had increased expectations including more homework (Celis, 1993). As of 1988, five states had lengthened the school day and a longer school year was adopted in nine (Bennett, 1988). By 1993 40% of schools had lengthened their school year (Celis, 1993). Schools did increase the amount of homework; however, many would argue that more homework created more problems than it solved (Cooper, 1989; Corno, 2000). One of the unanticipated effects of increased time on homework and more time in school was that it did not necessarily translate into higher quality homework or higher quality time in school in terms of student engagement, learning, and motivation. The tedium of mediocre curriculum may have created a variety of student coping responses such as disengagement and externalization that strain classroom management issues. More of the same did not help. Research on classroom management throughout this era was conceptualized as a way to increase the amount of time for learning through a reduction of teachers’ inefficient management of instruction (e.g., jagged transitions between lesson topics or tasks that afford student misbehavior) and student off-task or problem behavior that distracted peers or disrupted instruction (e.g., Berliner, Filby, Marliave, & Weir, 1978; Brophy, 1983; Brophy & McCaslin, 1992; Brophy & Rohrkemper, 1981; Evertson, Emmer, Sanford, & Clements, 1983; Pittman, 1985). Further, in this reform era students were responsible for holding up the weight of ‘‘more.’’ An overemphasis on students’ responsibility for stepping up to new demands supported internal, unstable, and controllable

Co-regulation Approach to Research on Student Motivation


attributional responses (Weiner, 1986) to task difficulty and failure such as ‘‘I didn’t try hard enough’’ or ‘‘I didn’t do enough work.’’ Policy makers (e.g., Tomlinson, 1992) were hoping that guilt would provoke students to repair deficiencies, as illustrated in the attribution (Weiner, 1986), learned helplessness (Dweck, 1986), and self-conscious emotion (Tangney, Stuewig, & Mashek, 2007) literatures. To the extent this strategy is successful, that is that (some) students repeatedly confront difficulty with extensive effort yet fail, is to risk the instantiation of a more stable, internal, uncontrollable attribution: shame. The progression of these potential dynamics needs systematic longitudinal investigation; reforms that unintentionally yet ultimately promote shame undermine more than the reform initiative. Another potential outcome of ‘‘more time for more work’’ in and out of school is increased anxiety. This is especially the case for students who are focused on the appearance of their work, the surface features of task completion that involve ‘‘getting it pretty’’ in addition to or instead of getting it correct or understanding it. Perfectionists in the era of ‘‘more’’ have more work to get pretty resulting in long hours with lots of erasures and startovers, and eventually, perhaps mercifully, burnout. What we learned from the Nation at Risk reform was that burnout was evident among teachers (Dworkin, 1997) and students and disparities among learners were enhanced. Epstein (1988), in a longitudinal study examining homework practices in elementary school, found that lower achieving students spent more time on homework in elementary school, but by the time they reached high school they gave up and were spending the least amount of time on homework compared to their higher achieving peers. Thus, reform efforts during this time period only exacerbated the educational achievement gap. Motivational researchers and policy makers may want to consider how more time in school now influences future student performance and persistence in school. What kinds of strains does extended time place on teachers? On their relationships with students? As this brief sketch of research in response to reforms of the Nation at Risk era suggests, motivation researchers have much to build on. Hopefully, this time around researchers can better anticipate the motivational and emotional consequences of sheer increases in time, attending to the co-regulation of individual differences, the community that embraces them, and the school reform policies that seek to attenuate, if not eradicate, them. We especially need to examine these dynamics further because along with increases in students’ time for learning, ‘‘personal responsibility’’ (a proxy for Carroll’s student perseverance) is a constant in the Obama



administration’s reform rhetoric. It is reasonable to predict that the personal responsibility press in school reform will introduce more opportunities and need for the study of achievement and moral emotions (e.g., guilt; Tracy, Robins, & Tangney, 2007) in the classroom. Thus far, we have examined the administration’s representation of the numerator in Carroll’s model of school learning: time spent ¼ f (opportunity to learn (i.e., time available to learn a common curriculum informed by common high standards) and student perseverance (i.e., student (personal responsibility for) time on task)). We now turn to Carroll’s denominator variables: time needed as a function of learning rate, quality of instruction, and ability to understand instruction. In the current plans these variables are to be known through assessment, the third cornerstone of tougher standards and the substance of the remaining three broad reform goals. Assessment concerns begin with better representation of the knowledge of students who may have difficulty understanding or completing the test per se: those with disabilities and those whose primary language is not English. Student ability to understand assessment is as close as current reform goals have gotten to the obviously related and more fundamental issue: student ability to understand instruction as proposed by Carroll. It seems reasonable to anticipate that bilingual education-related issues will soon be part of the federal school reform initiatives, which is of concern to motivation researchers, particularly those interested in linkages between language and identity (e.g., Lo´pez, 2008). Better Assessment Testing continues to be a cornerstone of school reform, hopefully, a more veridical one this time. Testing experts and citizens are being brought into the design of more valid and common assessments at the front-end of the process. The administration is particularly interested in the design of and technology innovation for tests for students in high school and those with disabilities and who are English language learners (ELLs) (students who Carroll would consider at particular risk of not being able to understand instruction, but here the concern is restricted to assessment). States are considered major stakeholders who are in charge of creating the tests and their use; thus, local input mediates the perceived loss of state control of the common assessments (McNeil, 2009). A test is a test nonetheless. Motivation researchers have a lot to say about the role of anxiety and avoidance in student test taking, especially mandated ones with meaningful consequences. The emotional and motivational environment of NCLB is that fear of failure and anxiety will drive higher

Co-regulation Approach to Research on Student Motivation


levels of performance and achievement. The possible positive outcomes of such testing (e.g., promotion and graduation) and the emotions surrounding such successes (e.g., joy and relief) are likely overshadowed by the severity of the negative outcomes (e.g., grade retention and failing school label) and respective emotions (e.g., anger and shame), and hence, anxiety. Generally, anxiety is considered a maladaptive stress process, which does not allow individuals to successfully cope with current demands (Zeidner & Matthews, 2005). Although anxiety in small doses or at the right time may enhance performance (Zajonc, 1965), there is a distinctive line between how much anxiety is facilitating or debilitating, particularly in different contexts (Zeidner & Matthews, 2005). Arguably, the magnitude of the consequences of current reform efforts induces anxiety, high levels for some, which can result in maladaptive coping patterns and strategy use and interfere with cognitive processes crucial to the learning that undergird performance in the first place (Zeidner & Matthews, 2005). More research is needed on the potential costs of prolonged anxiety that results from preparing for a single test for a whole year, in both the short and the long term. Motivation researchers have gotten a sense for how students today respond in testing situations, in their own terms. Ryan, Ryan, Arbuthnot, and Samuels (2007) have captured what test anxiety sounds like for eighth graders. Students provided a range of responses regarding their anxiety during high-stakes mathematics testing: Well usually, when I take tests in the beginning when I used to take them, I feel like oh! I was more relaxed for it so I scored higher but now like we prepare two weeks ahead of time it’s more like I’m more nervous when I first take it. (Cassie, female African American eighth grader, moderate math achiever, May 2004) (p. 9) Um I’m a little skittish before tests, but especially ones I don’t know about y like kind of nervous, um I feel like I’m light and I’m kind of feeling that way now y I just get this weird feeling y but I am used to it now. (Andy, male, White eighth grader, high math achiever, September 2003) (p. 10)

Additional research is needed on the impact of an emphasis on highstakes testing on student–teacher relationships. Teachers, who during the school year, often have opportunities to answer student questions during informal or possibly even formal testing situations, certainly clarifying directions if needed, now essentially have to be the ‘‘bad cop.’’ This new, distant and possibly unfriendly, rigid if not anxious, and unhelpful teacher may be playing a contradictory role to that which students have been accustomed during the entire school year. This may be a particularly harsh adjustment for high-poverty students, who have been found to have better



outcomes with teachers who display acceptance and warmth (Brophy & Evertson, 1976). And this is what we know about anxiety and testing – and we have known it for a long time as a particular concern in student classroom performance – from multiple perspectives and theoretical models (e.g., Hill & Wigfield, 1984; Sarason, Davidson, Lighthall, Waite, & Ruebush, 1960; Tobias, 1980). This body of research can serve as a baseline for studies conducted during the current economic recession, which coincides with two wars, new school reforms, and high-stakes testing: a perfect storm for pervasive anxiety. Motivation researchers have much to offer in the study of chronic and acute anxiety in the classroom, on mandated tests, and at home and how they manifest in student coping with stress related to major events and a steady stream of the small stuff (e.g., Lazarus, 1999) so that interventions can be designed and tested. It is reasonable to hypothesize, for example, that current increases in student bullying behavior are one manifestation of attempts to cope with uncertainty and anxiety. Certainly, motivation researchers can do more in this arena. Finally, as motivational researchers and policy makers consider how testing conditions may strain, if not transform, the relationships between teachers and their students, they may want to consider alternate paths to a similar goal. For example, would teacher–student relationships be as strained and students as stressed if testing were moved from the end of the school year to the beginning? Testing at the beginning of the school year, for formative purposes that inform instructional opportunities, may go far to recast student anxiety about performance, which is focused on past mastery, to their interest about future learning opportunities. Testing in this condition would signal the beginning of learning, not the end of it. As an added bonus, the school year is effectively extended: learning ‘‘that counts’’ does not end with the spring tests (McCaslin, 2006). Better Ways to Recruit and Retain Effective Teachers The administration is tackling the Carroll quality of instruction variable soup to nuts. It seeks to improve the (a) initial preparation of teachers, (b) professional development and support opportunities available to them, (c) identification of excellent teachers, and (d) relationship of talent with commensurate salary. There is a lot of room for informative motivation research on teacher activity and relationships in this sweeping goal area. At minimum, calls to improve teacher education programs, those that are doing a ‘‘mediocre job’’ of preparing teachers for the realities of the profession (Sawchuk, 2009), is an open invitation to motivation researchers

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to get involved in realistic research that can inform teacher education. Too often teacher education graduates are over-optimistic in their beliefs about their ability to have an impact on students’ learning and lives (Weinstein, 1990). A reasonable hypothesis is that relevant work on motivational dynamics and student adaptation to school and classroom conditions is lacking in their preparation. Teachers’ relationships with students and colleagues likely will be complicated further by these reform measures. For example, ‘‘a quality teacher’’ whose degree was in her/his teaching area of NCLB is now defined by effectiveness and effectiveness is defined by student achievement. One positive contribution of NCLB, as previously noted, was the recognition that what goes on in classrooms – teaching practices – matters. NCLB called for educational practices that were based on research evidence. That proves difficult, however, when context comes into play: effective instructional strategies are not so much a main effect – for teachers or students – as accountability enthusiasts might like. Rather than disembody skills from personal characteristics as done in NCLB, current formulations appear to reinsert the teacher – the person – into the classroom. One upside of this is that motivation researchers can continue to examine and elaborate upon current work suggesting the importance of the teacher–student relationship – strategies do not teach, teachers do – in student motivation and achievement outcomes (e.g., Pianta & Steinberg, 1992). Another upside is that the administration is talking with educators across the country who negotiate varied contexts and challenges in the everydayness of school. In Arizona, for example, Duncan has visited with school superintendents in an urban setting and educators from rural, remote, and tribal areas (Kossan, 2009a, 2009b). He wisely notes that the answers to the array of Arizona’s challenges are not found in Washington. The not-so-upside, however, includes the new language of ‘‘value-added’’ in which teachers are known by their effectiveness, which is defined by students’ achievement – a return of sorts to a pre-A Nation at Risk formula (Brophy & Good, 1986; Dunkin & Biddle, 1974). Duncan (October 2009) specifically has called for value-added analyses that identify effective teachers (vs. teaching practices) whose students achieve one-year’s growth in one year and ‘‘very effective’’ teachers whose students achieve more than one-year’s growth in a school year. In both cases, the teacher has ‘‘added value’’ to students’ learning if their achievement is more than predicted by their prior achievement. Duncan refers to this as a demonstration that teachers make a difference in students’ lives, ‘‘not just humming the status quo,’’ and deserve federal support (Kossan, 2009a, 2009b). Duncan



amplified his position in a telephone press conference. He stated that his agency will decide which states get a share of ‘‘Race to the Top’’ funds largely based on their willingness to differentiate among their teaching staff and reward their best teachers. ‘‘We can’t move forward with reforms if we continue with evaluation systems that give 99 percent of teachers satisfactory ratings y. We believe that talent matters tremendously’’ (Fischer, 2009). Policy makers have moved dramatically away from the very recent concerns about a teacher shortage with the impending retirements of the ‘‘baby boomer’’ teachers and the difficulties in retaining new teachers (Eklund, 2009). One positive effect of the present economic recession is that more people are remaining in the classroom (but are they the ‘‘right’’ ones? (Dolan, 2008)) and more want to get into them. The annual report of the American Association for Employment in Education lists only one subject – mathematics – that has an extreme shortage of teachers. Nationally, the demand for teachers has declined in the other 60 subjects in the past year (Hollingsworth, 2009). This may well be the time to fundamentally influence the composition and culture of the teacher workforce. This seems an important arena for motivation researchers to study. Teachers may stay in the profession longer, teachers and students will have more time together due to reform calls for longer and more school days, possibly also in smaller places like charter schools, and the basic structure of their putative relationship has been changed to a well-defined instrumentality. In the post-NCLB reform plan student achievement is the coinage for teacher salary schedule, retention, and tenure. Existing research (e.g., McCaslin, Good, et al., 2006; Wilson, Pianta, & Stuhlman, 2007) may serve as an important baseline to assess the effects of these reforms on the teacher–student relationship and, in turn, its relationship with student achievement. Whereas Nation at Risk focused on the wanting student, the Summit on weak standards, and NCLB on failing schools, the current spotlight, then, is on teachers who succeed in modification of student readiness (or not). At minimum, it seems that motivation researchers have much to bring to the basic assumptions embedded in the value-added construct. It is one thing to consider beliefs about incremental and entity theories of intelligence and their relationship with learners’ mindset and motivation (e.g., Dweck, 1986; Dweck & Molden, 2005). However, it is quite another to essentially mandate that learning is uniformly incremental and that the teacher’s task is continuous improvement in students’ intellectual capacity to learn. Theoretically, this position is aligned with the Carroll model of school

Co-regulation Approach to Research on Student Motivation


learning (see in particular, Bloom, 1976). In practice, however, this thinking is reminiscent of the structure of the NCLB annual yearly progress (AYP) demands. At a certain point AYP demands failure; at what point does valueadded do the same? Value-added emphases can provide a rich theoretical and practically important context for motivation researchers in the coming decade. For example, research on the transition from an incremental – ‘‘good learning’’ – to an entity – a ‘‘good learner’’ (or not) – perspective seems especially provocative, a sort of reversal of the Carroll transformation of learning level to learning rate. Teacher–teacher relationships also are likely to be strained if the administration achieves its goals of differential recognition and pay within schools (i.e., an excelling school would not be equated with an excelling staff as is currently done). The egg-carton metaphor for the teaching profession (Lortie, 1975/2002) in which teachers worked independently, in isolation and privacy, is less apt today. Teachers attend professional development sessions in groups. They routinely work in grade-level or subject matter teams. Informally, teachers meet to discuss concerns about a given student or lesson and notoriously share materials with abandon and without attribution. The effects of differential reinforcements (e.g., money and status) on teacher cohesion, satisfaction, helping behavior, and attitude, to name a few dependent variables, and how these bleed into the classroom, are important research areas. It seems important to know the potential costs of teacher rewards; motivation researchers certainly have contributed to that debate at the student level (e.g., Deci & Ryan, 1985; Lepper & Greene, 1978; cf. Rheinberg, 2008). Keeping Track of Student Performance There are at least two reasons to track student performance. First is to help the student learn. These data can provide hints on types of learning opportunities that are more and less appropriate and motivating for a student, for example, consistent with the ‘‘rate of learning’’ variable in the Carroll model. A second reason to track student learning is to assign ‘‘credit’’ for that learning, a unique purpose in the school reform plan that is linked to value-added teacher merit goals. Mandates for tracking students are essential if effective (or not) teachers, defined by student achievement gains, are to be identified. Tracking student progress is a basic task of school reform packages that to date are shockingly, routinely, absent, yet serious judgments about schools and principals (e.g., ‘‘failing’’) have been made under NCLB nonetheless. Many schools, let alone their districts and states, use unique student identification systems that do not communicate well,



if at all, with other databases. This interferes with helping students learn and figuring out how that learning is supported. Just who is teaching whom officially (i.e., student A is assigned to the classroom of teacher X) and unofficially (e.g., student A is sent to teacher Y when discipline is needed; student B is sent to teacher X when she is reviewing lesson 14) and for how long (e.g., student C left school in January; student D arrived in March) are extremely difficult to track (Wiley, McCaslin, & Good, 2007). Changing tests within school systems, differences in tests between school systems, what to do with high-school contexts, what about the teachers whose subject is not tested, and so on compound the difficulties in tracking students to help them relocate to support their learning, let alone assigning them accurately to a teacher. Teacher mobility is also a consideration: schools are staffed by lots of young women who have their own children; maternity leave and absences to care for sick family members are not unusual. Teachers can change grades and schools, searching for a better ‘‘fit’’ with their skills, dispositions, and location. The Obama administration plan needs this tracking system to work if reform improvements that do or do not occur are to be known; however, the use of these data to define teacher effectiveness may well undermine the teacher–student relationship that mediates student learning in the first place. Ironically, however, it may be easier to keep track of teacher–student assignments if informal exchanges that currently muddy the system are hindered by competition among teachers for status and cash. Improving Failing Schools Failing schools appear to occupy a distinct category: not all schools need special attention in addition to the three broad reform goals. The Obama administration believes that failing schools can be transformed by excellent teachers through charter schools. What has thus far remained unsaid: charter schools are all about parents. The Obama administration has called for more expansion into charter school territory: expansion into smaller places. Barker and Gump (1964) documented the greater educational opportunities associated with smaller schools some time ago and parents continue to argue for the quality and viability of their neighborhood schools. In today’s middle and high schools, the closest students get to small-school experiences is within track placements in which higher ability students have access to beliefs about themselves (e.g., smart and motivated) that is arguably denied to those in the lower tracks (Oakes, 1995; cf. Ryan, 2009). This in itself is a rich opportunity for motivation researchers to get smarter about the nuances and distinctiveness

Co-regulation Approach to Research on Student Motivation


among identity constructs like belongingness (Goodenow, 1992), relatedness (Deci & Ryan, 1985), and participation (Hickey, 2003; McCaslin, 2009) and the potential challenges of homogeneity in a new context. Charter schools are small, yes, and they appeal to many because they function outside the bureaucracy of ‘‘the public school,’’ and thus putatively have greater flexibility. They also can identify with a particular educational mission (e.g., science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)) or student (e.g., at risk). Duncan recently elaborated on social policy plans to increase the number of charter schools as part of educational reform. He differentiated the quality among charter schools, defining ‘‘good’’ charter schools as those that admit by lottery, not by test score and effectively obtain student achievement (Kossan, 2009a, 2009b). If these qualifiers are enacted, charter schools could provide an especially rich context for researchers to study identity transformation as students of poverty have equal access to ‘‘good’’ small schools and to their ‘‘highly effective’’ teachers. An additional and equally provocative feature of charter schools, however, is their prioritizing of parent involvement. Parents are now at the table and part of the solution, a notable shift from the basic mistrust of them evidenced in previous reform initiatives (McCaslin & Infanti, 1998). And this time parents (finally, for school reform advocates) may have information about what a ‘‘good’’ school actually looks and acts like. The diminishing public support for charter schools may reverse with firsthand knowledge of them. Charter schools are likely to remain a key component of post-NCLB reform plans – they are part of the ante to play ‘‘Race to the Top’’ – even though charter schools have not lived up to their promised innovation and excellence (Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), 2009; Good & Braden, 2000). Motivation researchers have an opportunity to get involved in a major renovation of the public school. The possibilities for field experiments to better understand the dynamics of motivation within varied instructional formats and classroom contexts with an array of learners within an accessible and supportive school identity are exciting, to say the least. Motivation research may help charter schools meet their potential.

CLOSING COMMENTS One goal in writing this chapter was to persuade those who conduct research on motivation and achievement that construct and theory development is



strengthened by attention to multiple sources of influence on motivation and adaptation and the relationships and tensions among them. We presented a co-regulation model that includes the tensions and reciprocal press among potential–probable–practicable influences on motivation and identity. A second goal was to persuade researchers that it is in our best interests to pay attention to real constraints on and opportunities for learning, motivation, and emotion in real classrooms in real schools – and school reform policies are part of that reality. It is also the right thing to do if our work is to matter in the public school. We believe our work should matter; it should illuminate the motivational challenges and supports in specific classroom opportunities and relationships – the practicable – to which we not only expose our students, but also require of them. Students differ notably in their potential – their readiness for, dispositions toward, and adaptations to these opportunities and relationships. The study of student motivation and achievement within classrooms is enriched with recognition that schools are sociocultural institutions that vary markedly. Social policy and school reform initiatives that confront the cultural status quo – the probable – and explicitly define changing expectations, regulations, and consequences are part of the reality of the public school that locates its time and place in the broader culture and in participants’ lives. We examined three federal school reform initiatives since the early 1980s – A Nation at Risk (1983), the National Education Summit (1996), and the NCLB act of 2001 – that appear to be integrated within the broader scope of the currently proposed school reform by the Duncan–Obama administration. Their broad reform goals map well onto the John Carroll model of school learning. The Carroll model is steeped in a behavioral approach to learning and instruction; it proposes that the degree of learning is a function of the ratio of time spent/time needed to learn. Amount of time spent is a function of opportunity and student engagement or perseverance; amount of time needed a function of student learning rate, quality of instruction, and student ability to understand instruction. It is a provocative lens from which to study motivational dynamics and the co-regulation of instructional opportunity – exposure and quality – student activity – disposition, learning, motivation, emotion, and adaptation – and school reform – what is to be learned to what degree by whom. We suspect it is not as linear and incremental as Carroll and school reformers suggest, but it is a clearly articulated plan that can be tested and improved upon. The Carroll model also is pragmatic and optimistic, a good fit with the perspective of the Obama administration and the school reform initiatives being discussed.

Co-regulation Approach to Research on Student Motivation


We hope that the reforms take the final step in alignment with Carroll and specifically address student ability to understand instruction, an especially critical issue for ELL students. Currently, state policies for the education of ELL students differ markedly and differentially impact student motivation, identity, and achievement in nontrivial ways (Lo´pez, 2008). Reforms targeting student ability to understand mandated assessments are a good step in that direction, albeit a bit late in the instruction–learning– performance sequence. The ‘‘problem of the public school’’ that the current reforms attempt to solve has to be inferred at this point, but we suspect that for the Obama administration the problem of the public school is that it is failing people. People, citizens, are not identifying with and participating in the purpose and the work of ‘‘the’’ public school: local ties are not enough. The solution strategies that appear to support this hypothesis include just how many people are at the solution table: governors, legislators, state education agencies, school administrators, teachers, teacher unions, assessment specialists, parents (even if they do not appreciate the magnitude of the issues), private foundations, and so on, but not students. The student is missing at the solution table and that is where our work as motivation researchers and theorists is most needed. Motivation researchers need to help the administration define their model of the learner and what that means for the four broad reform goals and the realization of successful school reform. We have suggested a co-regulation model that defines students as social beings. It links motivation and identity – participation and validation – through student negotiation of the press among their own wants and needs, the opportunities and relationships available to them, and the cultural norms and challenges about who they are and the adults they may become. Our model of the learner has a lot in common with adults who struggle and juggle to coordinate multiple demands, tasks, and goals. Like adults, our learners negotiate conflicts that remind them that they cannot have it all, that what they want often comes with a cost, and that sometimes their needs and desires simply do not matter. Our learners learn that some times and some situations do not allow choice; rather, they must adapt, compromise, substitute, or settle to make progress. We believe our model of the learner is a powerful one because it captures what it is like to be a student and an adult; thus, it can and does transfer beyond the public school, linking student motivational dynamics with emergent adult identity. We hope our co-regulation and other models of the learner can generate competing hypotheses that can be subjected to deliberate study to better understand and improve motivated



learning in the varied conditions of the public school. It may be the most important work we do.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT The authors acknowledge and thank Tom Good for his critical contributions and feedback.

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