Award Date

8-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Psychology

Department

Educational Psychology

First Committee Member

Gale M. Sinatra, Chair

Second Committee Member

Gregory Schraw

Third Committee Member

Gita Taasoobshirazi

Graduate Faculty Representative

Timothy Bungum

Number of Pages

135

Abstract

In this study, 166 undergraduates from an Educational Psychology subject pool were randomly assigned to different task value instructional inductions (utility, attainment, and control) to determine whether inducing students with differing task values would be effective and result in different degrees of engagement for a learning task, as well as result in different degrees of conceptual change on the topic of the causes of the common cold. It was hypothesized participants would adopt characteristics that were consistent with the task value with which they were induced, that the participants in the utility, attainment, and control conditions would differ in their engagement, and that participants in the utility, attainment, and control conditions would experience differing degrees of conceptual change. A pretest-posttest control group experimental design was utilized for the study, in which a pretest and posttest measure of participants' conceptual understandings of the causes of the common cold was employed to determine the degree of conceptual change each participant experienced over time.

Results from the analyses of participants' responses to measures of their approaches to the reading task on the causes of the common cold, as well as measures of perceived task value, revealed that participants tended to adopt approaches to the reading task that were consistent with the task value they received. Statistical differences were observed among the participants in the utility, attainment, and control conditions on perceived engagement, as well as conceptual change. The results indicate that the participants who were in the utility condition rated their engagement as significantly higher than those in the control condition. Furthermore, participants in the utility condition demonstrated the most conceptual change, followed by the participants in the attainment condition. Those in the control condition experienced the least amount of conceptual change.

The findings that the participants in the utility condition approached the reading task for this study in a utility oriented fashion, rated greater engagement for the task than the participants in the control condition, and experienced the greatest amount of conceptual change, suggest that the stressing of a utility value for a task may facilitate engagement and conceptual change to a greater degree, than would stressing an attainment value or no value. Furthermore, results from this study can inform the generation of new models of conceptual change, as this study lends new insight into the role task values may play in the conceptual change process. Although future research pertaining to investigations on the application of motivational interventions for promoting conceptual change is encouraged, the utility of this study's findings and implications set the foundation for the use of task value instructional inductions for facilitating engagement and conceptual change.

Keywords

Conceptual change; Engagement; Expectancy value theory; Learning; Psychology of; Motivation; Task values

Disciplines

Education | Psychology

Language

English


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