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Chapter 7.docx

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Ian Spence

Chapter 7 Achievement The Concept of Achievement Motivation - Children differ in achievement motivation – their willingness to strive to succeed at challenging tasks and to meet high standards of accomplishment o This is reflected differently in different cultures o Western societies: tend to be individualistic; achievement motivation is inferred from individual accomplishments that can be compared against some standard of excellence o Collectivistic societies: achievement motivation reflects willingness to strive to succeed at objectives that promote social welfare/maximize the goals of groups to which they belong - Regardless of culture, concept of achievement presumes some learning on the child’s part - The Motivational View of Achievement o Child’s need for achievement (n Ach): learned motive to compete and to strive for success whenever one’s behavior can be evaluated against standard of excellence  Self-fulfillment motivates them to work hard and be successful - Behavioral View of Achievement o Achievement is any behavior directed toward the attainment of approval or the avoidance of disapproval for competence in performance in situations where standards of excellence are operable o Children show different strivings in different skill areas, depending on the extent to which the value doing well in each area o Achievement behaviors are instrumental responses designed to win the approval of significant others o Intrinsic orientation: desire to achieve in order to satisfy one’s personal needs for competence or mastery (n Ach) o Extrinsic orientation: desire to achieve in order to earn external incentives such as grades, prizes, approval of others o Children who are intrinsically oriented are more likely to prefer challenging problems over simpler ones and to view themselves as high competent at schoolwork  Students more invested in new learning when they’re intrinsically oriented Early Reactions to One’s Accomplishments - Children progress through 3 phases in learning to evaluate their performances in achievement situations o Phase 1: Joy in mastery  Before age 2  Infants pleased to master challenges  Do not call other people’s attention to their triumphs or otherwise seek recognition, and rather than being bothered by failures, they shift goals and attempt to master other toys o Phase 2: Approval seeking  Near age 2  Begin to anticipate how others will evaluate their performances  Seek recognition when they master challenges and expect disapproval when they fail  Already appraising their outcomes o Phase 3: Use of standards  Age 3  Children reach more independently to their successes and failures  Not as dependent on others to tell them when they had done well or poorly  Capable of experiencing self-focused pride in their achievements and shame/embarrassment after failing - Infants are guided by a mastery motive and take pleasure in their everyday accomplishments; 2 year-olds anticipate others’ approval or disapproval of their performances; children 3 and above evaluate their accomplishments against performance standards Theories of Achievement Motivation and Achievement Behavior - Need Achievement Theories o McClelland’s Theory of Achievement Motivation  Viewed n Ach as a learned motive that is acquired on the basis of rewards and punishments that accompany certain kinds of behavior  If children are reinforced for independence, competitiveness, and success and if they meet with disapproval when they fail, their achievement motivation should be rather strong  Strength of an individual’s achievement motive was thought to depend on the quality of his/her achievement training  Varies as a function of culture, social class, attitudes of parents  Relationship between achievement motivation and achievement behavior  Those who score high on n Ach tend to have higher GPAs than those who score low, and they aspire to higher- status occupations as well  The achieving society  Cross-cultural data suggest that achievement motivation precedes economic growth and that a nation’s mean n Ach is a barometer of its future economic accomplishments  Problems with McClelland’s approach  Other investigators had difficulty replicating his findings o Atkinson’s Revision of Need Achievement Theory  In addition to disposition to achieve success (motive to achieve success), there is a general disposition to avoid failure, motive to avoid failure – one’s tendency to shy away from challenging tasks so as to avoid the embarrassment of failing  Person who accepts new challenges was presumed to have motive to attain success that is stronger than his motive to avoid failure  Low achiever who shies away from challenges was thought to have a motive to avoid failure that is stronger than motive to attain success  The value of a particular goal  Believed that the value one places on the success he might attain is a important determinant of achievement behavior  A child’s willingness to set high standards and to work to attain them may differ from area to area, depending in part on the achievement status of accomplishing these objectives or winning recognition for one’s efforts  Study shows that one’s performance in achievement contexts depends on far more than his/her absolute level of n Ach  It helps to know something about (1) the person’s fear of failure and (2) the perceived value of success  The role of expectancies in achievement behavior  The second cognitive variable – our expectations of succeeding or failing should we try to achieve an objective – is a critical determinant of achievement behavior  Claimed that people are more likely to work hard when they feel that they have a reasonable prospect of succeeding than when they see little chance of attaining a goal  Achievement expectancies  Expectations of success and failure are a powerful determinant of achievement behavior; children who expect to achieve usually do, whereas those who expect to fail may spend little time and effort pursuing goals they believe to be “out of reach”  Summary  Atkinson: willingness to work hard to obtain objectives depends on (1) motive to attain success and (2) the motive to avoid failure  Also claims that two cognitive variables – expectancies of success (or failure) and the value of various objectives – are every bit as important - Weiner’s Attribution Theory o Claims that a person’s achievement behavior depends critically on how he interprets prior successes and failures and on whether he thinks he can control these outcomes o Believes human beings are active information processors who will sift through data available to them and formulate explanations, or causal attributions, for their achievement outcomes o People are likely to attribute their successes and failures to any of four causes:  Their ability (or lack thereof)  The amount of effort expended  The difficulty (or easiness) of the task  The influence of luck (either good or bad) o Ability and effort – internal causes; task difficulty and luck – external causes/environmental factors  Locus of control  Individuals with internal locus of control assume they are personally responsible for what happens to them  This is conducive to achievement  Found that internalizers earn higher grades and will outperform externalizers on tests of academic achievement  Individuals with external locus of control believe that their outcomes depend more on luck, fate, or the actions of others than on their own abilities or efforts o Also claims that the four possible causes for achievement outcomes differ along stability dimension  Ability and task difficulty are stable/unchangeable  Amount of effort and luck are variable/unstable, from situation to situation o Contributions of “stability” and “locus of control” attributions to future achievement behavior  Each of these judgments has different consequences  Stability determines achievement expectancies  Outcomes attributed to stable causes lead to stronger expectancies than those attributed to unstable causes  Internality or externality of an outcome determine its value  Successes are most valuable when attributed to internal causes that one can take credit for  Failures attributed to internal causes can be damaging to our self-esteem  It is adaptive to attribute successes to high ability and attribute failures to low effort o Weiner’s theory assigns primary role to the cognitive variables: achievement expectancies and achievement value o Age differences in achievement-related attributions  Before age 7: children tend to be unrealistic optimists who they have ability to succeed on almost any task  By age 5, children are well aware of relationship between task difficulty and ability, knowing that a child who finds a task to be easy is smarter than a child who finds the same task to be difficult  Younger children display incremental view of ability: believe that ability is changeable, not stable, and that they can get smarter or become more capable through increased effort and lots of practice  Social experiences also contribute to changes in children’s thinking about ability and effort  Elementary teachers place more and more emphasis on ability appraisals – assign grades that reflect quality of work rather than amount expended  Explains why older children begin to distinguish effort from ability and begin to make the kind of causal attributions for their successes ad failures that Weiner’s theory anticipates - Dweck’s Learned Helplessness Theory o Two types of children: o Mastery-oriented: tend to attribute success to their high ability but tend to externalize the blame for their failures or attribute them to unstable causes that they can easily overcome  They persist in the face of failure  Think they can eventually improve their competencies by trying harder after failures o Learned helplessness orientation: attribute successes to the unstable factors of hard work or luck, yet attribute failures to a stable and internal cause – namely their lack of ability – which causes them to form low expectations of future successes and to give up  If failures are attributed to a stable cause that the child thinks he can do little about, he becomes frustrated and sees little reason to try to improve  Thus stops trying and acts helpless o How does learned helplessness develop?  Parents and teachers may foster development of helpless achievement orientation if they note that the child worked hard
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