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Session Overview
SYM-02: The Role of Instrumental Motivation at the Departmental, Course Level and in Job-Seeking Contexts
Time: Tuesday, 28/Aug/2012: 9:00am - 10:30am
Session Chair: Richard Anthony Walker, University of Sydney
Discussant: Markku Niemivirta, University of Helsinki
Organizer: Luke K. Fryer, Kyushu Sangyo University
Location: 254

Session Abstract

This symposium examines the effects of instrumental goals on goal commitment, proximal beliefs, motivations as well as persistence in a chosen field of study. The research presented spans learning at departmental, and course level as well as job-seeking contexts. Paper one establishes a framework for testing the effect of goal components on an individual’s commitment to their goal. Results for this study are pending the completion of data collection. Paper two tests a longitudinal model of instrumental goals’ and perceptions of Good Teaching’s effect on two sources of amotivation, Performance avoidance and Mastery approach goals. Consistent with theory and previous cross-sectional research, Distal-internal goals, followed by Perceptions of Good Teaching, both have a positive effect on adaptive task goals and negative effect on learners beliefs, which are potential sources of amotivation. These longitudinal results add weight to a burgeoning body of research supporting the importance of internally orientated instrumental goals. The final paper addresses the relationship between the perceived instrumentality of Engineering and the decision to continue to study in that field. Longitudinal results demonstrate that perceived instrumentality plays a significant role, explaining more variance with regard to persistence than self-efficacy in the domain studied. In a field such as Engineering, which is fundamental to a country’s economy, understanding motivations related to whether students continue or move to another domain of study is essential. This symposium will be of interest to an audience interested in examining the role of instrumental goals in how individuals learn and the choices they make.


Multiple goal pursuit in social-professional learning. The case of unemployed jobseekers

Anne Jacot, Isabel Raemdonck, Mariane Frenay

Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium

The purpose of this present paper is to investigate the different types of goals low-qualified unemployed jobseekers pursue in social-professional learning situations and to understand the dynamics of multiple goal pursuit and how these dynamics influence commitment in social-professional learning. Moreover, this research aims to develop a methodology which is also applicable to low-qualified populations who may face problems related to reading and comprehension. These two theoretical issues were examined through the lens of the hierarchical structure of goals proposed by Carver and Scheier (1998, 2000). According to these authors, goals are defined by two dimensions: the abstraction level of goals (be goals versus do goals) and the degree of integration between goals (highly connected goals versus isolated goals). Both dimensions are important determinants of the importance people attribute to learning goals (hypotheses 1, 2). We also assume that goal importance and self-efficacy towards the attainment of the goal determine commitment to the learning goal (hypotheses 3, 4). At last, we expect goal importance and self-efficacy to be related to each other (hypothesis 5). A questionnaire was developed to measure participants` goal pursuit in social-professional learning and existing scales were adapted to measure the five variables mentioned above. The questionnaire was screened by five experts and pre-tested with two unemployed jobseekers. Data was collected from a sample of jobseekers from forty training centres for social-professional integration in the French-speaking part of Belgium. The data collection will be completed by the end of January 2012.

Students’ goals and their longitudinal effect on learner beliefs and motivations to learn

Luke K. Fryer, Richard Walker, Paul Ginns

Kyushu Sangyo University, Japan

Instrumental goals are essential motivations that students bring with them into any learning environment. Research has demonstrated that internally orientated instrumental goals have positive relationships with a range of adaptive motivations and strategies (Simons, Dewitte, & Lens, 2004). The majority of prior research has however only examined cross-sectional relationships which preclude the discussion of direct and mediated effects.

Aims: Test the longitudinal effect of four types of instrumental goals (Distal-Internal, Distal-External, Proximal-external, and Social) and perceptions of Good teaching on two types of Achievement goals (Mastery and Performance avoidance), and two sources of Amotivation (Effort and Task-value beliefs).

Methodology: First and second year students of mixed major at one Japanese university completed a survey during regular class time, two times, eight months apart. Data were validated through factor analysis and a model was constructed and tested employing latent variables with Structural Equation Modeling.

Results: Corresponding with prior empirical research Distal-internal goals and perceptions of Good teaching were found to encourage adaptive task-orientated goals and decrease learner beliefs that led to amotivation.

Educational and theoretical significance: The longitudinal results establish the importance of internally orientated goals and good teaching as having an important effect on learner beliefs about task-value and effort. By replicating past cross-sectional research the results also highlight the positive effect of internally orientated goals and good teaching for adaptive task-orientated goals.

Persistence when the Going Gets Tough: Perceptions of Instrumentality and Academic Persistence.

Jenefer Husman, Andrea Vest, Natalie Eggum, Cecelia Maez, Katherine G. Nelson

Arizona State University, United States of America

A cohort-longitudinal examination of the relationship between college students’ first semester impression of the instrumentality of their first classes and their persistence in a difficult major. One-hundred and five engineering majors were surveyed in their first semester at University. Student perceptions of instrumentality of the first course they took in engineering accounted for a significant amount of variance in the number of semesters students chose to stay in the engineering program, students’ first semester GPA and their self-efficacy for course performance did not.

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