Psychology 2990A/B Lecture Notes - Motivation, Educational Psychology, Controllability

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October 23, 2012
Psychology in the Classroom
Part 1: Motivation in the Classroom
Prologue: Defining motivation: (the “why” of behaviour)
A psychological state that “influences” goal-directed behaviour
Three types of influences:
-Activates the behaviour (causes it to begin)
-Sustains the behaviour (keeps it going)
-Regulates the behaviour (involved plans and strategies for achieving the goal)
Perspectives on Motivation
A. The Behavioural Perspective
-behaviour is controlled by its consequences (E.g. rewards and punishments)
-suggests we can control motivation by controlling the consequences of behaviour
-reward desired behavior (to increase motivation)
-punish undesired behaviour (to decrease motivation)
Interlude: The problem with rewards to increase motivation
The first demonstration (with kids who liked playing with “magic marker” pens).
Study had 2 phases:
Phase 1: kids were randomly assigned to one of three groups:
Group 1: Expected a “Good Played Award” for drawing a picture with pens.
Group 2: Unexpectedly received the award after drawing a picture with pens.
Group 3: Didn’t receive any award (control group)
Phase 2: Reward is removed during free play
Results: Group 1 spent half as much time playing with the pens
expected rewards for engaging in a fun activity undermined their intrinsic
motivation to continue the activity (when the rewards were removed) (they wanted
the reward so they did not want to play with the pens after receiving the reward and
then knowing that they will not receive a reward anymore, even if they initially liked
playing with the pens!)
Guidelines when using rewards:
1. If intrinsic motivation is low, rewards can at least increase motivation until end of
course (during university, in this example)
2. If intrinsic motivation is high, use rewards selectively
-rewards can increase intrinsic motivation when given for quality of
performance (e.g. “a job well done”), rather than for mere performance of behaviour
B. The Cognitive Perspective
1. Expectancy x Value theories.
Motivation is influenced by two cognitions:
-expectancy of achieving the goal
-value of the goal
-if both are high, person will be motivated to achieve goal
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-if either is low, motivation will be low
2. Bandura’s Self-Efficacy Theory
(a) People must believe they have the ability to achieve goals (this is high self-
-Sources of self-efficacy
-strongest source: mastery experiences (our past experiences with success or
-vicarious experiences (performance of “models” who are similar to us)
-interpretation of our emotional arousal (is it “anxiety” or “excitement”?)
-social persuasion (others provide pep-talks, e.g. “you can do it!”)
(b) Self-efficacy is also influenced by goals we set for ourselves
-if too easy, high efficacy (but we won’t learn much)
-if too difficult, goals won’t be achieved (undermines “mastery” and self-efficacy)
Teachers can help set appropriate goals E.g.
-“moderately” difficult (challenging, but obtainable in a reasonable time)
-clear performance standards (so students can see if goal was achieved)
-also helps students learn what they are doing right and wrong
(increases mastery)
3. The Attributional Approach
(a) Motivation depends on the attributions (causal inferences) for past success and
(b) Three causal dimensions:
-Causal locus: Internal (something about person) vs external (something about
influences “self-esteem” (not motivation)
-Stability: Stable (not likely to change over time) vs unstable (can change)
influences “future expectations” of success and failure
-Controllability: Can control vs can’t control
influences perceived “self-efficacy”
(c) Motivational problems when failures are attributed to stable and uncontrollable
causes. E.g.
Student 1: “I’m stupid” (also internal, so low self esteem)
Student 2: “Task will always be too difficult” (external so not effect on self esteem)
motivation to succeed will be low
students less likely to seek help
(d) Students can be taught to change their attributions (e.g. “maybe I didn’t study or
try hard enough” – internal, unstable, controllable)
motivation to succeed will be higher compared to when they attributed
failure to ______ ??
Part 2: Teacher Expectancy Effects and Self-Fulfiling Prophecies
A. Robert Merton (1948):
“SFP is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behaviour,
which makes the originally false definition come true.”
B. Rosenthal & Jacobson (1968)
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