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Session Overview
PAP-07: Interest
Time: Tuesday, 28/Aug/2012: 3:30pm - 5:00pm
Session Chair: Doris Lewalter, TUM
Location: 254


Mandatory course enrollment and its influence on interest

Anna-Lena Dicke, Ulrich Trautwein, Benjamin Nagengast, Wolfgang Wagner

University of Tuebingen, Germany

Within educational settings students are typically forced to engage with certain subjects by means of mandatory course enrollment irrespective of their interest level. As mandatory course enrollment can be construed to have positive as well as negative effects on students’ interest, the purpose of this study was to investigate this issue empirically.

To this end, we examined changes in student reported interest in science subjects after the introduction of a mandatory course enrollment for basic courses in these subjects in upper secondary schools in the German state of Saxony. Using a quasi-experimental design, student reported interest in physics, chemistry and biology before (Cohort 1: N = 2125) and after (Cohort 2: N = 1116) the introduction of a mandatory course enrollment were compared.

Results for mean differences showed no statistically significant differences for the overall sample, but significant decreases in mean interests were found for two of the three subjects when considering course level (basic vs. advanced). Standard deviations also decreased statistically significantly for two of the three subjects in the overall sample as well as by course level. Findings, thus, indicate that mandatory course enrollment can affect students’ interest negatively. Future research should investigate processes potentially influencing the decrease in interest related to mandatory course enrollment.

Development of situational interest in museum contexts – the impact of different instructional designs of school field trips

Doris Lewalter, Katrin Neubauer, Claudia Geyer

TUM, Germany

Due to their situational characteristics science museums are assumed to be attractive learning environments which positively influence students’ development of interest with regard to the presented content areas (Paris et al., 1998; Lewalter & Geyer, 2005). The impact of school field trips in museums is not only mediated by the situational characteristics of the exhibition, but also by the instructional design of the visit chosen by the teacher. Up to now the impact of different designs of school field trips on motivational outcomes has rarely been investigated systematically. Based on the concept of situational interest (Krapp, 2002; Hidi & Renninger, 2006; Mitchell, 1993) and concepts of learning theory as well as museum educational approaches (Reinmann & Mandl, 2006; Falk & Dierking, 2000; Paris et al., 1998) the presented study investigates the effect of three instructional designs typically applied in museums on motivational processes. The effects of a guided tour, group work and free exploration field trips are compared with each other. 134 students from 15 classes took part in a paper and pencil survey (year 9) before and after the visit. The results show that the most structured and less activating design seems to be most effective in supporting students’ situational interest. The results of the study are discussed with respect to their theoretical and practical implications.

Students’ perceptions of instructional quality in secondary school mathematics classes and motivational learning outcomes: A person-centered research approach

Rebecca Christine Lazarides, Angela Ittel

Berlin Institute of Technology, Germany

This study examined the structure of different student profiles concerning their perceptions of instructional quality in secondary school mathematics classrooms. Relations between students’ socio-demographic characteristics and their profile membership were analysed. The main purpose of the study was to test differences in motivational learning outcomes among these profiles. Current theoretical models of instructional quality in mathematics classes reveal three basic dimensions of instructional quality - cognitive activation, classroom management and supportive climate. In this study self-reports from 425 secondary school students in Berlin, Germany (male: 53.2%, female: 46.3%) were used to assess profiles of students’ perceived quality concerning these three basic dimensions. Latent Class Analysis showed four profiles that varied along indicators of instructional quality in mathematics classes – low perceived quality; high perceived quality of structuredness; high perceived quality of support; high perceived quality. Results of subsequent logistic regression analyses revealed that gender, migration background, school type each significantly predicted students’ profile membership. Compared with male students, female students for example were less likely to belong to the ‘high quality’-profile. Results of mean difference testing indicated further that those students who had a high probability of perceiving low instructional quality in their math classes reported significant lower interests, lower self-concepts and lower school grades in mathematics. The results show not only the value of person-centered research approaches in studying instructional quality by highlighting the heterogeneity of students’ perceptions and associated learning outcomes. Results also point to the necessity of gender-sensitive teaching strategies in mathematics classes.

The usefulness of latent profile approaches to analyze the relation between emotional experiences and different stages of interest development

Ariane S. Willems

Institute for School Development Research (IFS), Germany

The aim of the paper is to analyze the relation between students’ experiences of autonomy, competence, and relatedness and different stages of interest in mathematics classes using Latent Profile Analysis (LPA).

The underlying theoretical framework is the Four-Phase-Model of Interest Development (Hidi & Renninger, 2006). In line with the model, two types of interest are distinguished: Situational and individual interest. In our study, the situational interest is further separated into two stages: SI-Catch and SI-Hold. The paper analyzes the role of the students’ perceived support of their needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness in predicting the level of their situational (Catch/Hold) and individual interest.

Selected results from a quantitative study conducted with N=951 German 8th grade students from N=38 classes are presented. Within the study, new scales were developed to measure the situational interest of the students and their emotional experiences. The data analysis addressed two goals: From a conceptual point of view, it is analyzed in how far the distinct stages of interest are uniquely influenced by the different dimensions of the basic needs. Methodologically, the expected influence of the different basic needs is modeled simultaneously by applying a LPA. Following that approach, homogeneous subgroups of students who have similar profiles for the multiple dimensions of the basic needs are identified. Secondly, these profiles are related to the students’ situational and individual interest. The results e.g. show that students who at the same time feel autonomous, related, and competent have higher levels of situational and individual interest.

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