The effect of motivational beliefs and strategies on study performance in elementary, middle, and high school students  

Cornoldi C., De Beni R., Meneghetti C.
First author's affiliation: Department of General Psychology, Padova, Italy

Many students present severe school difficulties and some of them are related with strategic and motivational factors. The present paper will illustrate a model for examining these issues and a study which was focused on study strategies. In both studies we used an Italian standardized instrument called AMOS 8-15 (Cornoldi, De Beni, Zamperlin, & Meneghetti, 2005) devoted to measure motivation, strategies, and study performance. The model analyzes how motivational beliefs and strategic aspects influence study performance and was tested, in a first series of studies, with students in elementary school (age 8-10), middle school (11-14), and first year high school (15). Results of multigroup analysis showed that in all students groups, the relations between motivational beliefs and strategic aspects were confirmed. However in elementary and middle school motivational beliefs have direct influence on study performance, whereas in high school they influence performance through strategy use. In a second series of studies devoted to examine the specific role of strategies, we selected groups of students, with good and poor study skills respectively, and we asked them to rate their knowledge and actual use of good and less adequate study strategies. Results showed that all students reported using strategies to a lesser extent that should be expected on the basis of their estimated importance, but they were all able to distinguish between poor and good strategies. However, students with poor study skills were less able to make this distinction and were less consistent in matching their knowledge to their use of strategies. It is concluded that strategic use and consistency play a crucial role in successful studying.