REC 340 Lecture 7: TargetpaperFINAL cambridge

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Department
Recreation
Course Code
REC 340
Professor
G D Eloia

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1
Seminar series sponsored by the British Psychological Society
Can current theories of motivation inform
practice in educational contexts?
Target paper for seminar on 8th May, 2009 to be held at
The Faculty of Education, Cambridge University, U.K.
Goal theory and self-determination theory: Theory and current debates
Richard Remedios (Durham University, U.K.) and Ros McLellan (Cambridge University, U.K.)
Introduction to the target paper: The purpose of the first seminar in the series “Can current
theories of motivation inform practice in educational contexts?” focuses on theory and current
debates. With so many potentially useful theories, it was tempting to try and outline them all.
However, we were in danger of writing a book and have therefore chosen to focus on just two
main theories, Goal Theory and Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory (SDT).
The target paper has been split into two papers, one focusing on Goal Theory and one focusing
on SDT. In both papers, we outline the main theoretical underpinnings and then highlight a few
challenges that have emerged for these theories in the last few years. For those of you familiar
with the theories, you may just want to read the controversies.
We hope that the two papers are brief enough to serve as a useful introduction to the types of
conversations we would like to encourage during the day and throughout the series as a whole
but detailed enough to do justice to the finer points of the theory.
2
Goal Theory: Controversies of interest to theorists and educators
Richard Remedios
Durham University
Abstract:
This position paper focuses on the concept of goal theory. Goal theory is a particular from of an
achievement goal which in turn is a particular feature of achievement motivation. At the finer
level of distinction, there are also different types of goal theories. In this position paper, I start
by firstly outlining the category differences between the different achievement motivation
concepts to arrive at the suite of goal theories. I will then focus on Andy Elliot’s version of goal
theory and in particular, the theoretical debate that surrounds firstly the operationalisation of
goals. I explain the evidence that suggests the importance of a range of alternative goals and
outline the argument that goal theory may underplay the importance these goals. The second
controversy I will focus on is a practical one, namely, how can we use what we have learned
from the research on goal theory to inform practice in classrooms? These two controversies
share considerable space in the extant literature and so whilst there may be others, I hope by
outlining these two controversies, the scene can be set for further debate.
3
Achievement motivation, achievement goals and goal theories.
In 1938, Henry Murray produced a seminal piece of work entitled “Explorations in Personality”
(Murray, 1938). Murray was interested in behaviours that seemed to him to be motivated by
forces other than drives such as sex, hunger and thirst. He wanted to understand whether there
might be some other set of innate characteristics that operated in a drive-like fashion in the sense
that they energized behaviour in a particular direction. Murray developed the thematic
apperception test where participants were asked to describe what they thought was going on in a
series of pictures (see Fig 1).
Fig 1. Typical pictures from Murray’s thematic apperception test. Participants were asked to tell
a story about each picture.
From participants’ replies, Murray coded responses into themes and identified twenty-seven
concepts that he called “needs”. Amongst others, these “needs” included achievement. The need
for achievement was defined as “To accomplish difficult tasks, overcoming obstacles and
becoming expert”. These early concepts were developed by McClelland et al. (1953) and the
concept of achievement motivation was introduced to the literature. McClelland et al. proposed
that humans had an innate need to achieve, a need which was later described by Atkinson (1964)
as “a capacity to experience pride in accomplishment” (Atkinson, 1964, p. 214). This definition
became the driver for research into achievement motivation and the concept of The
Achievement Motive was born.

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Description
Seminar series sponsored by the British Psychological Society Can current theories of motivation inform practice in educational contexts? Target paper for seminar on 8 May, 2009 to be held at The Faculty of Education, Cambridge University, U.K. Goal theory and selfdetermination theory: Theory and current debates Richard Remedios (Durham University, U.K.) and Ros McLellan (Cambridge University, U.K.) Introduction to the target paper: The purpose of the first seminar in the series Can current theories of motivation inform practice in educational contexts? focuses on theory and current debates. With so many potentially useful theories, it was tempting to try and outline them all. However, we were in danger of writing a book and have therefore chosen to focus on just two main theories, Goal Theory and Deci and Ryans SelfDetermination Theory (SDT). The target paper has been split into two papers, one focusing on Goal Theory and one focusing on SDT. In both papers, we outline the main theoretical underpinnings and then highlight a few challenges that have emerged for these theories in the last few years. For those of you familiar with the theories, you may just want to read the controversies. We hope that the two papers are brief enough to serve as a useful introduction to the types of conversations we would like to encourage during the day and throughout the series as a whole but detailed enough to do justice to the finer points of the theory. 1
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