Educational psychology 1

[5 abstracts]

1. 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.

2. Primary and secondary school students’ academic motivation and achievement in math and Slovene language  [presentation, ppt, 245 kB]
Peklaj C., Puklek Levpušček M.
First author's affiliation: Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia

The aim of the study was to examine different aspects of students’ academic motivation and its effects on students’ achievement in two different school subjects (math and Slovene language). The sample consisted of 470 students (321 boys and 239 girls) who attended the seventh grade of the primary school and 437 students (176 boys and 262 girls) who attended the third grade of the secondary school in the school year 2006/07. Students’ academic motivation in math and Slovene language was assessed by different scales of PALS (Midgley et al., 2000): school related beliefs and strategies (academic self-handicapping strategies, scepticism about the relevance of school for future success), personal achievement goal orientations (mastery, performance-approach and performance-avoidance) and academic self-efficacy. Students’ grades in the previous academic year and their final grades in both subjects were also collected. The results showed negative and low correlations between self-handicapping and scepticism and achievement in both subjects in primary and secondary school students. Patterns of correlations between achievement goal orientations and self-efficacy and achievement in math and Slovene language were different for primary and secondary school students. Further analyses showed that students’ previous achievement was the best predictor of student current achievement at both school levels and in both subjects. In addition, school related beliefs and motivational dimensions added significantly to the prediction of the final grades. Among the motivational dimensions, self-efficacy was a significant predictor for the primary students’ final grades in math and Slovene language. On the other hand, mastery goal orientation significantly predicted the secondary students’ final grades.

3. Affective-motivational processes, parents’ behaviour perception and achievement in music theory  [presentation, ppt, 1653 kB]
Smolej Fritz B., Peklaj C., Bajec B.
First author's affiliation: Krsko Elementary Music School, Krsko, Slovenia

In the present study, we were interested in students’ achievement in Music theory (MT), which is a basic and obligatory subject in elementary music schools in Slovenia. It was supposed that students’ achievement should be related to different affective- motivational processes as well as to some factors of parent’s behaviour perception. 457 fifth and sixth grade students from elementary music schools in Slovenia (153 boys and 303 girls) participated in the study. Their mean age was 13 years and 8 months. Two questionnaires were constructed for the purposes of this study: The Music Theory Affective-Motivational Processes Questionnaire (MTAMPQ) and The Perception of Parents’ Behaviour Questionnaire (PPBQ) as well as The Music Theory Achievement Test (MTAT). Factor analysis of MTAMPQ revealed four different factors: perception of applicability and the importance of MTL, anxiety, competence and interest and perception of difficulty at auditory tasks. Factor analysis of PPBQ also revealed four different factors: help and encouragement, disapproval, lack of control and autonomy support. Final grades in Music theory were also collected. Results confirmed that affective-motivational processes as well as aspect of parents’ behaviour perception are positively related to measures of students’ achievement in MT. Anxiety and disapproval are important predictors of achievement accessed by MTAT, explaining 10% of its variance, while competence and interest, anxiety, help and encouragement, and disapproval are important predictors of final grades, explaining 36 % of its variance. We can conclude that affective-motivational processes and aspect of parent’s behaviour perception can better predict final grades in MT than achievement on MTAT. Possible reasons for such results were discussed as well as implications for further research and practice.

4. How anxiety and self-efficacy affect school performance: Mediating role of learning and coping strategies  [presentation, ppt, 787 kB]
Loncaric D.
University of Rijeka, Faculty of Teacher Education, Rijeka, Croatia

Anxiety and self-efficacy are among best investigated correlates of academic achievement. There is considerable empirical evidence suggesting that self-efficacy is one of the best motivational predictors of learning and achievement outcomes. Anxiety has somewhat more complex relationship with academic achievement. Zeidner (1998) points out that high level of anxiety usually leads to less adaptive cognitive processing and lower achievement, while Garcia and Pintrich (1994) suggest that some students can be motivated by anxiety to try harder and study more, thus increasing their achievement. Numerous researches have also investigated different mediating variables, usually focusing on cognitive learning strategies. This research aims to broaden our understanding of self-efficacy and anxiety effects on academic achievement using both learning strategies and coping with school failure strategies as mediators. Croatian upper elementary students (213 boys and 238 girls; 11-14 years of age) participated in this investigation. The self-reports were gathered by the Self-Regulated Learning Components Scale and Academic Stress Coping Scale (Loncaric, 2006, 2008). The results showed that learning and coping strategies fully mediate anxiety and self-efficacy effects. Some inconsistent mediation effects were identified, explaining inconsistencies in previous empirical research. For example, test anxiety has negative effect on the school achievement via the increase in the use of the emotion-protective disengagement coping strategy and surface cognitive processing learning strategy, and positive effect on academic achievement via the increase in the use of the (meta)cognitive control circle learning strategy. Also, some artificial direct effects of self-efficacy onto academic achievement appear only in the models that do not consider coping strategies as mediators. This finding is discussed and interpreted as model misspecification error.

5. Interpersonal relationships and academic achievement – (how) are they interrelated in different periods of schooling?  [presentation, ppt, 2039 kB]
Košir K., Pečjak S.
First author's affiliation: Visoka poslovna šola Doba Maribor, Maribor, Slovenia

In the past, academic and social variables were considered as two completely separated aspects of motivation. Recently, these beliefs have been changing radically; namely, academic and social variables can be intertwined in a number of ways. Two most frequent and important forms of social relations that students form and maintain in school are relations to teachers and to peers. The main purpose of the study was to examine the relation between both kinds of social relations and academic variables in different school periods. 1159 students from three different periods of schooling covering the age range from late childhood through early to middle adolescence participated in the study. Different models of relations between social and academic variables were tested using structural equation modeling. The results show that the mediating variables included (well-being in school and academic engagement) do not explain the relation between social relations and academic achievement. In younger students, peer relations are related to students’ academic achievement, which does not hold true for both older age groups. Relations to teachers are related to students’ academic outcomes in all periods of schooling. The results also suggest that the method of data assessment is a very important factor of establishing the relations between variables. Self-report as a source used in a lot of educational research seems to be quite unreliable measure of students’ social and academic characteristics. Therefore, multiple sources should be used for the assessment of students’ characteristics.