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Session Overview
PAP-04: Elementary School
Time: Tuesday, 28/Aug/2012: 1:30pm - 3:00pm
Session Chair: Birgit Spinath, Heidelberg University
Location: 454


Associations among perceived teacher affective support, emotional, and motivational variables in elementary school classrooms: The role of gender and grade level

Gonul Sakiz

Marmara University, Turkey

Research emphasizes the need for assessing the relations among affective learning environments and students’ functioning in schools (Turner, Meyer, Midgley, & Patrick, 2003). An increasing number of studies have pointed to the importance of psychosocial factors on students’ cognitive, motivational, and behavioral functioning in classrooms (Malecki & Demaray, 2003; Osterman, 2003; Sakiz, 2012). The purpose of the present study was to explore whether the associations among perceived teacher affective support, sense of belonging, academic enjoyment, academic hopelessness, academic self-efficacy, and behavioral engagement differ by gender and grade level in Turkish elementary school science and technology classrooms. There has been attitude and achievement related problems in science classrooms in Turkey for long years (Özden, 2007). While there has been some slight improvements since 2003, Turkish students still score lower than many of their international counterparts. Potential determinants of this problem need to be addressed. In the current study, a self-report survey was administered to 633 fourth- and fifth-grade students in eight public elementary schools. Structural equation modeling was used for data analysis. Findings point to the importance of building affectively supportive learning environments in elementary school science classrooms to improve emotional, motivational, and behavioral functioning of young students regardless of gender and grade level.

Students’ ability to self-regulate learning and their perception of tasks in science education

Angelika Meier, Franziska Vogt

University of Teacher Education, Switzerland

Science education in primary school seeks to teach methods of scientific inquiry, increase knowledge in science domains as well as encourage students’ interest in science topics. This study investigates the influence of features of task in an activity-oriented learning setting on the topic of climate and climate change on children’s interest. Three hundred and eighty students from grade 4 to 6 visited the activity-oriented learning space for the duration of a half-day. Prior to their visit, interest in science topics and goal orientation were assessed. During their visit, students were free to choose from 30 different tasks. There were three types of tasks: problem-oriented with only the problem given; problem-oriented with some suggestions added or problem-oriented with a step-by-step instruction. Preliminary findings suggest that students with learning goals are more positive about the tasks in general. Further analysis will show whether there are interaction effects for individual differences and features of task. The insights of this study are relevant for the provision of effective learning environments for primary school students in the natural sciences.

Early Causal Ordering Among Competence Beliefs and Achievement: An Investigation of Potential Changes in Direction and Gender Differences

Birgit Spinath1, Verena Freiberger1, Ricarda Steinmayr2

1Heidelberg University, Germany; 2Marburg University, Germany

To understand the emergence and development of students´ academic self-concept and related gender differences, it is necessary to investigate the interplay of early achievement feedback and competence beliefs with longitudinal designs that allow for inferences about causal ordering. In the present study, it was investigated whether during the elementary school years a) a change takes place in the predominant direction between achievement and ability self-concept (from mere skill-development to stronger self-enhancement effects; Calysn & Kenny, 1977) and b) whether these processes are different for boys and girls. A sample of N = 542 German 2nd grade students (M = 7.95 years, SD = 0.58) was followed over one year with four measurement occasions. Boys reported more favorable competence beliefs in math although their grades were not better. Cross-lagged panel analyses showed a diminishing impact of prior math achievement on later competence beliefs and a growing influence of prior competence beliefs on subsequent math grades. Multi-group analyses revealed that these processes were invariant across gender. Findings are discussed with regard to their implications for developmental theories and their educational relevance.

Does perceived competence mediate the impact of formative assessment on students' intrinsic motivation?

Annika Lena Hondrich1,2, Silke Hertel1,2,3, Eckhard Klieme1,2,3

1German Institute for International Educational Research (DIPF), Germany; 2Center for Research on Individual Development and Adaptive Education of Children at Risk (IDeA); 3Goethe Universität Frankfurt

Formative assessment refers to eliciting evidence of students’ understanding and using the information to provide feedback and adjust teaching. Empirical studies show that formative practices can be effective in fostering students’ achievement and intrinsic motivation; however, studies examining the mechanisms underlying these effects are scarce. Drawing on Deci and Ryan’s self-determination theory, we hypothesize that the adaptive quality of formative assessment fosters students’ perceived competence, which in turn promotes intrinsic motivation. In the present study, we seek to investigate this mediation hypothesis. Our analyses base on a subsample of the IGEL-project, a cluster randomized, controlled trial in German primary school science lessons. N = 28 teachers were either trained in realizing formative assessment (treatment group, n = 17) or in parental counseling (control group, n = 11). Teachers then taught the topic of floating and sinking in their classrooms, the teachers in the treatment group implementing formative assessment. We assessed students’ intrinsic motivation and perceived competence before, during (post1) and after the intervention (post2). Multilevel mediation analysis supported our hypothesis. We found significant indirect effects of formative assessment on perceived competence at post1 and from perceived competence on intrinsic motivation at post2 (total indirect effect: β = 0.17*, pes = 0.04). Controlling for these indirect paths, the previously significant direct effect of formative assessment on motivation was no longer observed. Thus, our results indicate that the effect of formative assessment on motivation is mediated by perceived competence. Further analyses using multilevel SEM and controlling for pretest scores are planned.

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