The Effects of Utility Value on Achievement Behavior of Two Cultures

The Effects of Utility Value on Achievement Behavior of Two Cultures

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Motivation to study mathematics is in rare supply in today's classrooms, in particular, among learners who lack interest in math. It is argued here that utility value (Eccles et al., 1983) may be the missing ingredient in students' learning experiences, because it is often hard for them to see the connection between course material and their proximal and distal goals. The aims of this dissertation were (1) to examine how cultural variations and individual differences in initial interest in math affect participants' response to utility value, (2) to empirically distinguish between proximal and distal utility value, and (3) to compare the efficacy of an externally provided utility value intervention with a self-discovered utility value intervention. We designed two experiments in which Westerner and East Asian students from a large Midwestern university were taught a new math technique. We manipulated the technique's utility value by either omitting its mention, providing participants with information about the technique's distal utility value, providing participants with information about the technique's proximal utility value, or by asking participants to discover utility value of the technique on their own. Findings from Study 1 showed that East Asians and Westerners who were not interested in math exhibited remarkably different responses to distal externally provided utility value. East Asians worked harder and showed more interest in the new technique after learning that it could help them reach their distal goals, whereas Westerners did not increase their motivation. Findings from Study 2 revealed that whether utility value is proximal or distal was more important than whether utility value was externally provided or self-discovered. Consistently across all motivation outcomes, East Asian participants reaped the largest motivational benefits from learning that the new technique could help them reach their distal goals (e.g., getting a good job), and Westerners benefited the most from learning that the new technique could help them reach their proximal goals (e.g., quickly calculating tips in their head). These findings have implications for how to promote motivation for learners who come from different cultures and bring variable levels of interest into the learning situation.The distal EPV intervention was identical to the one used in Study 1, and it told participants about the usefulness of the new technique for ... In order to remain blind to condition, the experimenter handed the participant a folded sheet of paper containing the writing exercise instructions. Participants were given 8 minutes to type their essay on an Acer Aspire 3680 laptop that was positioned in front of them.


Title:The Effects of Utility Value on Achievement Behavior of Two Cultures
Author: Olga Godes
Publisher:ProQuest - 2008
ISBN-13:

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