The More Interest, the Less Effort Cost Perception and Effort Avoidance.
ABSTRACT: The present study aims to investigate what factors determine students' engagement in mathematics. We examined the predictive relationships between interest, effort cost (i.e., the cost of making the effort), and three forms of academic engagement: persistence, cognitive engagement, and effort avoidance. In addition, we examined gender differences in these relationships. We recruited 546 8th and 9th graders for this study. Consistent with previous research, interest worked as a strong positive predictor of persistence and cognitive engagement, and it predicted effort avoidance negatively. Moreover, interest negatively predicted the perception of effort cost, which in turn positively predicted effort avoidance. Gender differences were found in the mean values of effort avoidance and in the prediction by interest of the perception of effort cost. Male students reported higher effort avoidance than female students, and the prediction by interest of the perception of effort cost was stronger among female students than among male students. These findings provide new insights into students' engagement in mathematics and the role of interest and effort cost in it.
Project description:Most studies utilizing a person-oriented approach to investigating students' achievement goal orientation profiles have been domain-general or focused on a single domain (usually mathematics), thus excluding the possibility of identifying distinct subject-specific motivational profiles. In this study, we looked into this by examining upper secondary school students' subject-specific achievement goal orientation profiles simultaneously in mathematics and English. As distinct profiles might contribute to how students invest time and effort in studying, we also examined differences in perceived subject-specific cost (i.e., effort required, emotional cost, opportunity cost) among students with different profiles and how this was linked with students' more general academic well-being (i.e., school engagement, burnout). The 434 Finnish general upper secondary school students participating in the study were classified based on their achievement goal orientations in the two subjects using latent profile analysis, and the predictions of the latent profile on distal outcomes (i.e., measures of cost and academic well-being) were examined within the mixture model. Five divergent achievement goal orientation profiles were identified: indifferent (29%), success-oriented (26%), mastery-oriented (25%), English-oriented, math-avoidant (14%), and avoidance-oriented (6%). The English-oriented, math-avoidant students showed the most distinct domain-specificity in their profile but, in general, profiles indicated more cross-domain generality than specificity. Overall, mastery-oriented students showed the most adaptive academic well-being, while avoidance-oriented students were the least engaged. Success-oriented students were characterized by high multiple goals in both subjects, elevated costs, and high scores on both positive (engagement) and negative (burnout) well-being indicators. The English-oriented, math-avoidant students perceived studying math as costly. The findings suggest that addressing students' achievement motivation in different subjects may be useful for recognizing factors endangering or fostering student learning and well-being.
Project description:Expectancy-value theory of achievement motivation predicts that students' task values, which include their interest in and enjoyment of a task, their perceptions of the usefulness of a task (utility value), and their perceptions of the costs of engaging in the task (e.g., extra effort, anxiety), influence their achievement and academic-related choices. Further, these task values are theorized to be informed by students' sociocultural background. Although biology students are often considered to be math-averse, there is little empirical evidence of students' values of mathematics in the context of biology (math-biology task values). To fill this gap in knowledge, we sought to determine 1) life science majors' math-biology task values, 2) how math-biology task values differ according to students' sociocultural background, and 3) whether math-biology task values predict students' likelihood of taking quantitative biology courses. We surveyed life science majors about their likelihood of choosing to take quantitative biology courses and their interest in using mathematics to understand biology, the utility value of mathematics for their life science career, and the cost of doing mathematics in biology courses. Students on average reported some cost associated with doing mathematics in biology; however, they also reported high utility value and were more interested in using mathematics to understand biology than previously believed. Women and first-generation students reported more negative math-biology task values than men and continuing-generation students. Finally, students' math-biology task values predicted their likelihood of taking biomodeling and biostatistics courses. Instructional strategies promoting positive math-biology task values could be particularly beneficial for women and first-generation students, increasing the likelihood that students would choose to take advanced quantitative biology courses.
Project description:Math anxiety-negative feelings toward math-is hypothesized to be associated with the avoidance of math-related activities such as taking math courses and pursuing STEM careers. However, there is little experimental evidence for the math anxiety-avoidance link. Such evidence is important for formulating how to break this relationship. We hypothesize that math avoidance emerges when one perceives the costs of effortful math engagement to outweigh its benefits and that this perception depends on individual differences in math anxiety. To test this hypothesis, we developed an effort-based decision-making task in which participants chose between solving easy, low-reward problems and hard, high-reward problems in both math and nonmath contexts. Higher levels of math anxiety were associated with a tendency to select easier, low-reward problems over harder, high-reward math (but not word) problems. Addressing this robust math anxiety-avoidance link has the potential to increase interest and success in STEM fields.
Project description:Utility value for long-term goals, named distal utility value, can be differentiated from utility value for short-term goals, named proximal utility value. The purposes of the present study were (1) to examine the distinct roles of proximal and distal utility value in predicting academic outcomes, (2) to test the mediating role of effort cost in the relationship between these two types of utility value and academic outcomes, and (3) to examine whether future time perspective moderates the role of distal utility value. The results from two independent studies provided compelling evidence for the distinct roles of proximal and distal utility value in predicting academic outcomes, as well as the mediating role of effort cost and the moderating role of future time perspective. Study 1, in which 598 Chinese students participated, demonstrated that proximal utility value negatively predicted effort cost, which in turn negatively predicted academic choice intentions. However, distal utility value did not predict effort cost but did directly predict academic choice intentions. Just as in Study 1, Study 2, in which 891 Korean students participated, found that proximal utility value negatively predicted avoidance intentions and procrastination, directly and indirectly, by lowering effort cost perception. By contrast, distal utility value positively predicted effort cost, which in turn positively predicted avoidance intentions and procrastination. Although distal utility value negatively predicted procrastination directly, the total effects of distal utility value on both academic behaviors were not significant. In Study 2, we also found that future time perspective moderated the relationship between distal utility value and effort cost. The findings of the present study extend the scope of expectancy-value theory, bridge expectancy and value theory with future time perspective theory, and provide guidelines for utility value intervention.
Project description:The underrepresentation of racial minorities and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines is a national concern. Goal theory provides a useful framework from which to understand issues of underrepresentation. We followed a large sample of high-achieving African American and Latino undergraduates in STEM disciplines attending 38 institutions of higher education in the United States over 3 academic years. We report on the science-related environmental factors and person factors that influence the longitudinal regulation of goal orientations. Further, we examine how goal orientations in turn influence distal academic outcomes such as performance and persistence in STEM. Using SEM-based parallel process latent growth curve modeling, we found that (a) engagement in undergraduate research was the only factor that buffered underrepresented students against an increase in performance-avoidance goals over time; (b) growth in scientific self-identity exhibited a strong positive effect on growth in task and performance-approach goals over time; (c) only task goals positively influenced students' cumulative grade point average, over and above baseline grade point average; and (d) performance-avoidance goals predicted student attrition from the STEM pipeline. We discuss the implications of these findings for underrepresented students in STEM disciplines.
Project description:Cognitive effort is typically aversive, evident in people's tendency to avoid cognitively demanding tasks. The 'cost of control' hypothesis suggests that engagement of cognitive control systems of the brain makes a task costly and the currency of that cost is a reduction in anticipated rewards. However, prior studies have relied on binary hard versus easy task subtractions to manipulate cognitive effort and so have not tested this hypothesis in "dose-response" fashion. In a sample of 50 participants, we parametrically manipulated the level of effort during fMRI scanning by systematically increasing cognitive control demands during a demand-selection paradigm over six levels. As expected, frontoparietal control network (FPN) activity increased, and reward network activity decreased, as control demands increased across tasks. However, avoidance behavior was not attributable to the change in FPN activity, lending only partial support to the cost of control hypothesis. By contrast, we unexpectedly observed that the de-activation of a task-negative brain network corresponding to the Default Mode Network (DMN) across levels of the cognitive control manipulation predicted the change in avoidance. In summary, we find partial support for the cost of control hypothesis, while highlighting the role of task-negative brain networks in modulating effort avoidance behavior.
Project description:Individuals tend to avoid cognitive demand, yet, individual differences appear to exist. Recent evidence from two studies suggests that individuals high in the personality traits Self-Control and Need for Cognition that are related to the broader construct Cognitive Effort Investment are less prone to avoid cognitive demand and show less effort discounting. These findings suggest that cost-benefit models of decision-making that integrate the costs due to effort should consider individual differences in the willingness to exert mental effort. However, to date, there are almost no replication attempts of the above findings. For the present conceptual replication, we concentrated on the avoidance of cognitive demand and used a longitudinal design and latent state-trait modeling. This approach enabled us to separate the trait-specific variance in our measures of Cognitive Effort Investment and Demand Avoidance that is due to stable, individual differences from the variance that is due to the measurement occasion, the methods used, and measurement error. Doing so allowed us to test the assumption that self-reported Cognitive Effort Investment is related to behavioral Demand Avoidance more directly by relating their trait-like features to each other. In a sample of N = 217 participants, we observed both self-reported Cognitive Effort Investment and behavioral Demand Avoidance to exhibit considerable portions of trait variance. However, these trait variances were not significantly related to each other. Thus, our results call into question previous findings of a relationship between self-reported effort investment and demand avoidance. We suggest that novel paradigms are needed to emulate real-world effortful situations and enable better mapping between self-reported measures and behavioral markers of the willingness to exert cognitive effort.
Project description:Recent research on the conditions that facilitate cooperation is limited by a factor that has yet to be established: the accuracy of effort perception. Accuracy matters because the fitness of cooperative strategies depends not just on being able to perceive others' effort but to perceive their true effort. In an experiment using a novel effort-tracker methodology, we calculate the accuracy of human effort perceptions and show that accuracy is boosted by more absolute effort (regardless of relative effort) and when cooperating with a "slacker" rather than an "altruist". A formal model shows how such an effort-prober strategy is likely to be an adaptive solution because it gives would-be collaborators information on when to abort ventures that are not in their interest and opt for ones that are. This serves as a precautionary measure against systematic exploitation by extortionist strategies and a descent into uncooperativeness. As such, it is likely that humans have a bias to minimize mistakes in effort perception that would commit them to a disadvantageous effort-reward relationship. Overall we find support for the idea that humans have evolved smart effort detection systems that are made more accurate by those contexts most relevant for cooperative tasks.
Project description:Acquiring musical skills requires sustained effort over long periods of time. This work aims to explore the variables involved in sustaining motivation in music students, including perceptions about one's own skills, satisfaction with achievements, effort, the importance of music in one's life, and perception of the sacrifice made. Two models were developed in which the variable of gratitude was included to integrate positive psychology into the motivational area of music education. The first predicts effort, while the second predicts gratitude. The models were tested using a sample of 84 music students. Both models were fitted using Bayesian analysis techniques to examine the relationship between variables and showed adequate goodness of fit. These models emphasize the role of cognition and motivation in music education and, more precisely, the relationship between effort and gratitude.
Project description:Academic achievement in general, and in mathematics in particular, is positively associated not only with cognitive abilities, but also with emotional and motivational skills. The objective of this study was to analyze the prediction strength of cognitive, motivational, and emotional variables in mathematics achievement throughout high school, considering students' gender and age. A large sample of 2,365 Spanish students from the 4 years of high school (12-16 years old) participated in the study. Students provided information about their intellectual skills, perceived competence in mathematics, perceived utility of mathematics, intrinsic interest in learning, mathematics anxiety, and their causal attributions (for failure and for success), and of their achievement in mathematics. Data showed differences according to gender and the school grade level. The motivational and affective variables did not seem to play an important role in this relationship as predicted in the current study. The results of this study are discussed in light of previous research.