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Session Overview
POS-8: Math and Science in Higher Education
Time: Thursday, 30/Aug/2012: 10:30am - 11:30am
Location: 0.251


The relationships between perfectionism, epistemic beliefs, self-efficacy, and achievement goals in mathematics

Daria Rovan

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Croatia

This paper explores perfectionism, epistemic beliefs and self-efficacy as proposed antecedents of students' achievement goals in the context of learning mathematics in higher education. A sample of 362 undergraduate technical sciences students enrolled in introductory-level mathematics course participated in the study. Students completed questionnaire on perfectionism (adaptive and maladaptive), epistemic beliefs (simplicity and justification of knowledge in mathematics), self-efficacy and achievement goals in mathematics. Results revealed that mastery-approach and performance-approach goals were positively predicted by adaptive perfectionism and justification of knowledge, but negatively predicted by simple knowledge. Self-efficacy beliefs also positively predicted performance-approach goals. Mastery-avoidance and performance-avoidance goals were positively predicted by both maladaptive and adaptive perfectionism. This research advances our understanding of how individual differences in students' beliefs and standards that they set may influence their achievement goal pursuit.

Overcoming student reluctance to engage with challenging mathematics tasks

Peter Arnold Sullivan, Angela Mornane

Monash University, Australia

Much advice about mathematics teaching recommends that teachers pose challenging tasks. The purpose of the challenge is to allow students opportunities to make connections between ideas, to process multiple ideas concurrently, and to transfer prior learning to new contexts. The expectation is that students will persist at the tasks, which is a function of their motivation to learn. The paper reports an aspect of a research project that investigated ways that teachers used challenging tasks in their mathematics classrooms, how the teachers encouraged students to persist, and how students responded when working on such tasks. The research applied theoretical perspectives on motivation in the context of mathematics classrooms. The paper describes the nature of challenge in mathematics tasks and the characteristics of challenging tasks that were found to be effective. It presents summaries of observations of teacher actions especially those that encouraged persistence, student responses in classrooms especially their reactions to the challenging tasks, student learning as represented by their work artefacts and responses to assessment items, and their rating of the tasks in terms of interest and engagement. We found that teachers were able to pose challenging tasks with support, students were willing to engage with the tasks with encouragement and they learned the mathematics involved in the tasks. The results indicate that there are direct relationships between the ways students respond to challenge, the types of tasks that teachers pose, and actions teachers take to encourage students to persist.

Influence of Task-Values on Attention Allocation and Conceptual Change Learning

Suzanne H. Broughton1, Marcus L. Johnson2

1Utah State University, United States of America; 2University of Cincinnati, United States of America

Contemporary conceptual change models suggest that motivation is a key factor in conceptual change learning because it influences the learner’s level of cognitive engagement for the learning task. The current study examined whether cognitive engagement could be enhanced through instructional inductions of task-values (i.e. utility and attainment values) prior to reading a text intended to promote conceptual change. One hundred and fourteen college students completed measures of knowledge about the common cold, task-value, and engagement, both before and after reading a text on the common cold. Prior to reading the text, participants were randomly induced to one of three task-value conditions: utility, attainment, or none (control group). Participants’ reading times of the text passage were tracked and recorded. Results indicated that utility values are strongly associated with deep engagement, longer reading times, and greater conceptual change than attainment or no value induction. Further, results suggest that those induced with a task value had increased attention allocation for the text as indicated by longer reading times on specific segments of the text and higher levels of conceptual knowledge at posttest than the control group. The present study provides evidence that task-value inductions may contribute to increased engagement during reading, which in turn increases the likelihood of conceptual change. This study supports prior motivational research that suggests a utility task-value orientation increases engagement and conceptual change; and contributes to education literature by illustrating how motivational constructs can be specified in contemporary theoretical models that predict conceptual change.

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