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Motivational Process free essay sample
Dweck argues that this approach has important implications for practice and the design of interventions to change maladaptive motivational processes. She presents a compelling proposal for explaining motivational influences on gender differences in mathematics achievement and observes that empirically based interventions may prevent current achievement discrepancies. The Editors Most research on effective learning and performance of cognitive tasks analyzes the particular cognitive skills required to succeed at those tasks. In contrast, the focus here is on motivational processes that affect success on cognitive tasks. That is, the focus is on psychological factors, other than ability, that determine how effectively the individual acquires and uses skills. It has long been known that factors other than ability influence whether children seek or avoid challenges, whether they persist or withdraw in the face of difficulty, and whether they use and develop their skills effectively. However, the components and bases of adaptive motivational patterns have been poorly understood. We will write a custom essay sample on Motivational Process or any similar topic specifically for you Do Not WasteYour Time HIRE WRITER Only 13.90 / page As a resuit, commonsense analyses have been limited and have not provided a basis for effective practices. Indeed, many commonsense beliefs have been called into question or seriously qualified by recent researchfor example, the belief that large amounts of praise and success will establish, maintain, or reinstate adaptive patterns, or that brighter children have more adaptive patterns and thus are more likely to choose personally challenging tasks or to persist in the face of difficulty. In the past 10 to 15 years a dramatic hange has taken place in the study of motivation. This change has resulted in a coherent, replicable, and educationally relevant body of findingsand in a clearer understanding of motivational phenomena. During this time, the emphasis has shifted to a social-cognitive approachwaway from external contingencies, on the one hand, and global, internal states on the other. It has shifted to an emphasis on cognitive mediators, that is, to how children construe the situ ation, interpret events in the situation, and process 1040 information about the situation. Although external contingencies and internal affective states are by no means ignored, they are seen as part of a process whose workings are best penetrated by focusing on organizing cognitive variables. Specifically, the social-cognitive approach has allowed us to (a) characterize adaptive and maladaptive patterns, (b) explain them in terms of specific underlying processes, and thus (c) begin to provide a rigorous conceptual and empirical basis for intervention and practice. Adaptive and Maladaptive Motivational Patterns The study of motivation deals with the causes of goaloriented activity (Atkinson, 1964; Beck, 1983; Dollard Miller, 1950; Hull, 1943; Veroff, 1969). Achievement motivation involves a particular class of goalsthose involving competenceand these goals appear to fall into two classes: (a) learning goals, in which individuals seek to increase their competence, to understand or master something new, and (b) performance goals, in which individuals seek to gain favorable judgments of their competence or avoid negative judgments of their competence (Dweck Elliott, 1983; NichoUs, 1984; Nicholls Dweck, 1979). Adaptive motivational patterns are those that promote the establishment, maintenance, and attainment of personally challenging and personally valued achievement goals. Maladaptive patterns, then, are associated with a failure to establish reasonable, valued goals, to maintain effective striving toward those goals, or, ultimately, to attain valued goals that are potentially within ones reach. Research has clearly documented adaptive and maladaptive patterns of achievement behavior. The adaptive (mastery-oriented) pattern is characterized by challenge seeking and high, effective persistence in the face of obstacles. Children displaying this pattern appear to enjoy exerting effort in the pursuit of task mastery. In contrast, the maladaptive (helpless) pattern is characterized by challenge avoidance and low persistence in the face of difficulty. Children displaying this pattern tend to evidence negative affect (such as anxiety) and negative self-cogniCorrespondenceconcerningthis article shouldbe addressedto CarolS. Dweck,Departmentof Psychology,UniversityofIllinois, 603 E. Daniel, Champaign, IL 61820. l The wordperformancewill be used in severalways,not only in connection with performancegoals. It will alsobe used to refer to the childs task activity(performanceof a task) and to the product of that activity (levelof performance). The meaning should be clear from the context. October 1986 9 American Psychologist Copyrisht 1986 by the American PsychologicalAssociation, Inc. 0003-066X/86/$00. 75 Vol. 41, No. 10, 1040-1048 Table 1 Achievement Goals and Achievement Behavior Theory of intelligence Goal orientation Confidence in present ability Behavior pattern Entity theory (Intelligence is fixed) gt; Performance goal (Goal is to gain positive judgments/avoid negative judgments of competence) If high gt; Mastery-oriented Seek challenge but High persistence If low ~ Helpless Avoid challenge Low persistence gt; Learning goal Incremental theory (Intelligence is malleable) (Goal is to increase competence) If high gt; Mastery-oriented ioOr ~ Seek challenge (that fosters learning) High persistence tions when they confront obstacles (e. g. , Ames, 1984; C. Diener Dweck, 1978, 1980; Dweck Reppucci, 1973; Nicholls, 1975). Although children displaying the different patterns do not differ in intellectual ability, these patterns can have profound effects on cognitive performance. In experiments conducted in both laboratory and classroom settings, it has been shown that children with the maladaptive pattern are seriously hampered in the acquisition and display of cognitive skills when they meet obstacles. Children with the adaptive pattern, by contrast, seem undaunted or even seem to have their performance facilitated by the increased challenge. If not ability, then what are the bases of these patterns? Most recently, research has suggested that childrens goals in achievement situations differentially foster the two patterns. That is, achievement situations afford a choice of goals, and the one the child preferentially adopts predicts the achievement pattern that child will display. Table 1 summarizes the conceptualization that is emerging from the research. BasieaUy, childrens theories of intelligence appear to orient them toward different goals: Children who believe intelligence is a fixed trait tend to orient toward gaining favorable judgments of that trait (performance goals), whereas children who believe intelligence is a malleable quality tend to orient toward developing that quality (learning goals). The goals then appear to set up the different behavior patterns. 2 effort. Further, this research shows how a focus on ability judgments can result in a tendency to avoid and withdraw from challenge, whereas a focus on progress through effort creates a tendency to seek and be energized by challenge. Although relatively few studies as yet have explicitly induced and compared (or measured and compared) learning versus performance goals (see M. Bandura Dweck, 1985; Elliott Dweck, 1985; FarreU Dweck, 1985; Leggett, 1985, 1986), many have manipulated the salience and value of performance goals, and hence the relative value of the two types of goals. This has been done, for example, by instituting a competitive versus individual reward structure (e. g. , Ames, 1984; Ames, Ames, Felker, 1977), by varying the alleged diagnosticity of the task vis vis important abilities (e. g. , Nicholls, 1975), by introducing an audience or evaluator versus allowing the individual to perform privately or focusing his or her attention on the task (e. . , Brockner Hulton, 1978; Carver Scheier, 1981; E. Diener SruU, 1979), and by presenting the task with test instructions versus game or neutral instructions (e. g. , Entin Raynor, 1973; Lekarczyk Hill, 1969; McCoy, 1965; Sarason, 1972). Taken together, the results suggest that highlighting performance goals relative to learning goals can have the following effects on achievement behavior. Goals and Task Choice Learning and Performance Goals Contrasted How and why do the different goals foster the different patterns? How do they shape task choice and task pursuit to facilitate or impede cognitive performance? The research reviewed below indicates that with performance goals, the entire task choice and pursuit process is built around childrens concerns about their ability level. In contrast, with learning goals the choice and pursuit processes involve a focus on progress and mastery through 2 See M. Bandura and Dweck (1985), Dweck and Elliott (1983), and Leggett (1985) for a more extensive treatment of childrens theories of intelligence. The present article will focus on achievement goals and their allied behavior patterns. Appropriately challenging tasks are often the ones that are best for utilizing and increasing ones abilities. Recent research has shown that performance goals work against the pursuit of challenge by requiring that childrens perceptions of their ability be high (and remain high) before the children will desire a challenging task (M. Bandura Dweck, 1985; Elliott Dweck, 1985). That is, if the goal is to obtain a favorable judgment of ability, then children need to be certain their ability is high before displaying it for judgment. Otherwise, they will choose tasks that conceal their ability or protect it from negative evaluation. For example, when oriented toward performance goals, individuals with low assessments of their ability are often found to choose personally easy tasks on which success is ensured or excessively difficult ones on 1041 October 1986 9 American Psychologist which failure does not signify low ability (M. Bandura Dweck, 1985; Elliott Dweck, 1985; see also deCharms Carpenter, 1968; Moulton, 1965; Nicholls, 1984; Raynor Smith, 1966). Even individuals with high assessments of their ability may sacrifice learning opportunities (that involve risk of errors) for opportunities to look smart (Elliott Dweck, 1985; see Covington, 1983). Thus, performance goals appear to promote defensive strategies that can interfere with challenge seeking. With learning goals, however, even if childrens assessment of their present ability is low, they will tend to choose challenging tasks that foster learning (M. Bandura Dweck, 1985; Elliott Dweck, 1985). Specifically, in studies by EUiott and Dweck (1985), in which learning and performance goals were experimentally manipulated, and by M. Bandura and Dweck (1985), in which learning and performance goals were assessed, children with learning goals chose challenging tasks regardless of whether they believed themselves to have high or low ability (see also Meyer, Folkes, Weiner, 1976; Nicholls, 1984). Thus with a learning goal, children are willing to risk displays of ignorance in order to acquire skills and knowledge. Instead of calculating their exact ability level and how it will be judged, they can think more about the value of the skill to be developed or their interest in the task to be undertaken. Goals and Task Pursuit Outcome interpretation and impact. Although within a performance goal childrens confidence in their ability needs to remain high to sustain task involvement, that confidence is difficult to maintain. Research shows that children with performance goals are more likely to interpret negative outcomes in terms of their ability. That is, they attribute errors or failures to a lack of ability (Ames, 1984; Ames et al. , 1977; Elliott Dweck, 1985) and view them as predictive of continued failure (Anderson Jennings, 1980). This in turn tends to result in defensive withdrawal of effort or debilitation in the face of obstacles (Covington Omelich, 1979; Elliott Dweck, 1985; Frankl Snyder, 1978; Nicholls, 1976, 1984; see also Berglas Jones, 1970; Weiner, 1972, 1974). In contrast, children with learning goals tend to use obstacles as a cue to increase their effort or to analyze and vary their strategies (Ames, 1984; Ames et al. 1977; Elliott Dweck, 1985; Leggett, 1986; Nicholls, 1984), which often results in improved performance in the face of obstacles. That is, the more children focus on learning or progress, the greater the likelihood of maintaining effective strategies (or improving their strategies) under difficulty or failure (A. Bandura Schunk, 1981; Elliott Dweck, 1985; Farrell Dweck, 1985; see also Anderson Jennings, 1980; C. Diener Dweck, 1978). Satisfaction with outcomes. Once again, within the performance goal versus learning goal framework, the focus is on ability versus effort. For performance-goal children, satisfaction with outcomes is based on the ability they believe they have displayed, whereas for learninggoal children, satisfaction with outcomes is based on the 1042 effort they have exerted in pursuit of the goal. Ames et al. (1977), for example, found that with an autonomous reward structure (learning goal), childrens pride in their performance in both the success and the failure conditions was related to the degree of effort they perceived themselves to have exerted. However, within the competitive reward structure (performance goal), pride in performance was related to the degree of ability (and luck) they believed themselves to have. Thus, failure within a performance goal, because it signifies low ability, yields little basis for personal pride or satisfaction. Indeed, within a performance goal, high effort may be negatively related to satisfaction: Leggett (1986) showed that children with performance goals are significantly more likely than children with learning goals to view effort per se as indicative of low ability (see also Jagacinski Nicholls, 1982; Surber, 1984). Findings by M. Bandura and Dweck (1985) also support the differential emphasis on effort versus ability as the basis for satisfaction within learning and performance goals. When asked to indicate their affective reactions to low-effort mastery, children with learning goals were more likely than children with performance goals to choose bored or disappointed as opposed to proud or relieved. Finally, within a performance framework, childrens own outcome satisfaction and that of their peers may be in conflict. Results from the Ames et al. 1977) study are consonant with this view. Childrens own satisfaction and perceived others satisfaction with performance were negatively correlated under the competitive reward structure (-. 70) but not in the autonomous reward structure (. 06), even though their relative outcomes were identical in the two conditions. In addition, in rating how deserving of rewards (stars) both persons were, given their level of performance, children were more magnanim ous toward the poorer performer (whether it was self or other) in the noncompetitive condition than they were in the competitive one. Indeed, in the noncompetitive condition, they even awarded the losing other slightly more stars than they awarded themselves. Intrinsic motivation. It has been noted that persistence in the face of obstacles is made more difficult within a performance goal because obstacles tend to cast doubt on the childs ability and hence to call into question goal attainment (favorable ability judgments). Persistence is also made more difficult by the fact that intrinsic motivational factorssuch as task interest or the enjoyment of effortmay be more difficult to access within a performance goal. That is, effort in the face of uncertainty appears to be experienced as aversive for children with performance goals, and worry about goal attainment may well overwhelm any intrinsic interest the task may hold for the child (Ames et al. , 1977; M. Bandura Dweck, 1985; Elliott Dweck, 1985). Indeed, performance goals may well create the very conditions that have been found to undermine intrinsic interest (Deci Ryan, 1980; Lepper, 1980; Lepper Greene, 1978; Maehr Stallings, 1972; Ryan, Mires, Koestner, 1983). October 1986 9 American Psychologist In concluding this section on goal orientation and task pursuit, we might ask: Do childrens goal orientations play a role in what and how they actually learn in classroom settings? One of the hallmarks of effective learning (and of intelligent thinking) is the tendency to apply or transfer what one has learned to novel tasks that embody similar underlying principles. In a recent study, Farrell and Dweck (1985) examined the relationship between childrens goal orientations and transfer of learning. As a week-long unit in their regular science classes, eighth-grade children were taught one of three scientific principles by means of self-instructional booklets. They were then tested for their generalization of this learning to tasks involving the two (conceptually related) principles that had not been taught. The results showed that children who had learning goals for the unit, compared to those who had performance goals, (a) attained significantly higher scores on the transfer test (and this was true for children who had high and low pretest scores); (b) roduced about 50% more work on their transfer tests, suggesting that they were more active in the transfer process; and (c) produced more rulegenerated answers on the test even when they failed to reach the transfer criterion, again suggesting more active attempts to apply what they had learned to the solution of novel problems. To summarize, a performance goal focuses children on issues of ability. Within this goal, childrens c onfidence in their current ability must be high and must remain high if they are to choose appropriately challenging tasks and pursue them in effective ways. Yet the same focus on ability makes their confidence in their ability fragile-even the mere exertion of effort calls ability into question. A strong orientation toward this goal can thus create a tendency to avoid challenge, to withdraw from challenge, or to show impaired performance in the face of challenge. Ironically, then, an overconcern with ability may lead children to shun the very tasks that foster its growth. In contrast, a learning goal focuses children on effort-effort as a means of utilizing or activating their ability, of surmounting obstacles, and of increasing their ability. Not only is effort perceived as the means to accomplishment, it is also the factor that engenders pride and satisfaction with performance. The adoption of learning goals thus encourages children to explore, initiate, and pursue tasks that promote intellectual growth. The Relation of Ability and Motivation Does Ability Predict Motivational Patterns? One might suppose that children who had the highest IQ scores, achievement test scores, and grades would be the ones who had by far the highest expectancies for future test scores and grades, as well as for performance on novel experimental tasks. Surprisingly often, this is not the case. In fact, one of the things that makes the study of motivation particularly intriguing is that measures of childrens actual competence do not strongly predict their confidence of future attainment (M. Bandura Dweck, October 1986 9 American Psychologist 1985; Crandall, 1969; Stipek Hoffman, 1980; see also Phillips, 1984). Indeed, M. Bandura and Dweck found that their low-confidence children tended to have somewhat higher achievement test scores than their high-confidence group. Interestingly, the low-confidence children did not have poorer opinions of their past attainment or abilities but faced the upcoming task with low expectancies of absolute and relative performance. One might also suppose that high-achieving children would be much less likely than low achievers, when encountering an obstacle, to attribute their difficulty to a lack of ability and to show deteriorated performance. But this supposition, too, is often contradicted by the evidence (e. g. , Licht Dweck, 1984; Stipek Hoffman, 1980; see also C. Diener Dweck, 1978, 1980). A tendency toward unduly low expectancies (CrandaU, 1969; Stipek Hoffman, 1980), challenge avoidance (Licht, Linden, Brown, Sexton, 1984; see also Leggett, 1985), ability attributions for failure (Licht Shapiro, 1982; Nicholls, 1979), and debilitation under failure (Licht et al. , 1984; Licht Dweck, 1984) has been especially noted in girls, particularly bright girls. 3 Indeed, some researchers have found a negative correlation for girls between their actual ability and these maladaptive patterns (Crandall, 1969; Licht et al. , 1984; Licht Dweck, 1984; Licht Shapiro, 1982; Stipek Hoffman, 1980). An extensive study of sex differences in achievement cognitions and responses to failure recently completed by Licht et al. (1984) yields illustrative evidence. On the basis of their grades, Licht divided her subjects into A, B, C, and D students and, among other measures, administered a novel concept formation task. A significant sex difference was found among the A students (and only among the A students) in their response to failure, with the A girls showing the greatest debilitation of the eight groups and the A boys being the only group to show any facilitation. In addition, Licht found a strong sex difference in task preferences between A girls and A boys: The A girls much preferred tasks they knew they were good at, whereas A boys preferred ones they would have to work harder to master. It is also interesting to note that in Leggetts (1985) study of bright junior high school students, there was a greater tendency for girls than boys to subscribe to an entity theory of intelligence (smartness as a fixed trait, a static entity) and for those who did to choose a performance goal that avoided challenge. Again, it is not the case that these girls are unaware of their attainments (Licht Dweck, 1984; Nicholls, 1979; Parsons, Meece, Adler, Kaczala, 1982), but knowledge of past successes does not appear to arm them for confrontations with future challenges. For example, in a study by Licht and Dweck (1984) that examined the 3It is important to note that sex differences,like most individual differences,are by no means found in everystudy. However,when sex differencesare found,the sameonesare typicallyfound. Thus,the pattern describedis a recurrent one that has been foundin many studiesfrom many differentlaboratories. 1043 impact of initial confusion (vs. no confusion) on subsequent learning, high-achieving girls rated themselves as being bright but still showed greater debilitation than lowachieving girls. Whereas in the no-confusion condition, the brighter the girl (by her own self-rating and by IQ score), the more likely she was to master the new material (r = . 7), in the confusion condition, the brighter the girl, the less likely she was to reach the mastery criterion (r = -. 38, Paifflt; . 02). (For boys in this study the correlation between self-rated ability and task performance tended to increase from the no-confusion to the confusion condition: rs . 15 and . 34, respectively. ) In short, being a high achiever and knowing one has done well in the past does not appear to translate directly into high confidence in ones abilities when faced with future challenges or current difficu lties. Nor does it clearly predict the maintenance of ones ability to perform or learn under these conditions. It is apparent, then, that a maladaptive motivational pattern is not the sole province of the low-achieving, failure-prone child. Does Motivational Pattern Predict Ability Over Time? If there is a sizable proportion of high achievers with maladaptive motivational patterns (see Phillips, 1984), and if these patterns are important to achievement, then why are these children still high achievers? Drops in achievement can result from performance debilitation or task avoidance. That is, both the presence of failure or the opportunity to avoid challenging subject areas may lead to cumulative skill deficits in children with maladaptive patterns. For good students, grade school may not provide either of these. It may present neither tasks that are difficult enough to create failure and debilitation nor the choice of not pursuing a given subject area. For these reasons, maladaptive patterns may not yet typically come into play. Licht and Dweck (1984) showed, however, in an experiment conducted in classrooms, that when confusion does accompany the initial attempt to learn new material, mastery of the material is seriously impaired for these children. It may be that only in subsequent school years will these maladaptive tendencies have their impact on achievement, when children with these patterns may elect to avoid challenging courses of study, drop out of courses that pose a threat of failure, or show impairment of performance under real difficulty. Thus, our experimental studies may create conditions that good students will encounter fully only in later years but that reveal underlying patterns already in place in the grade school years. In the following section, sex differences in motivational patterns and achievement are used as a means of exploring the ways in which motivational patterns can affect achievement, and ability, over time. The Case of Sex Differences in Mathematical Versus Verbal Achievement Discrepancies between males and females in mathematical and verbal achievement have long been a source of puzzlement and concern. Although in the grade school 1044 years girls equal boys in mathematical achievement (and surpass them in verbal achievement), during the junior high and high school years, boys pull ahead and remain ahead in mathematical achievement (Donlon, Ekstrom Lockheed, 1976; Fennema Sherman, 1977; Hilton Berglund, 1974; Maccoby Jacklin, 1974). A wide assortment of explanations has been advanced, ranging from claims about the nature of the genetic equipment (Benbow Stanley, 1980) to arguments about the impact of sex role stereotypes (Sherman Fennema, 1977). Without ruling out other explanations, one can add a motivational explanation based on the research findings reviewed above. Specifically, the fact that the two sexes often display different motivational patterns and the fact that the academic subject areas in question differ in major ways aside from the skills they require suggest that perhaps motivational patterns contribute to these achievement discrepancies. This suggestion is made even more plausible when one considers that (a) sex differences in mathematical achievement are greatest among the brightest students (Astin, 1974; Fox, 1976) and (b) sex ifferences in motivational patterns and associated behavior appear to be greatest among the brightest students. As noted above, bright girls compared to bright boys (and compared to less bright girls) seem to display shakier expectancies, lower preference for novel or challenging tasks, more frequent failure attributions to lack of ability, and more frequent debilitation in the face o f failure or confusion (Licht et al. , 1984; Licht Dweck, 1984; Stipek Hoffman, 1980). Moreover, some characteristics of mathematical versus verbal areas are precisely those that would work against individuals with this pattern but that would favor individuals with the more confident, challengeseeking pattern (see Licht Dweck, 1984, for a more detailed discussion of these characteristics). Specifically, new units and courses in mathematics, particularly after the grade school years, tend to involve new skills, new concepts, or even entirely new conceptual frameworks (for example, algebra, geometry, calculus). These new skills and concepts are not only different from but are often more difficult than those the child has mastered in the past. In the verbal areas, however, once the basic skills of reading and writing are mastered, one does not as typically encounter leaps to qualitatively different tasks, tasks requiring mastery of completely unfamiliar verbal skills. Increments in difficulty appear to be more gradual, and new units or courses often simply ask the student to bring existing skills to bear on new material. This general difference between mathematical and verbal areas may have several important psychological consequences. For one thing, as children ponder future math courses, the greater novelty and difficulty of the future courses compared to present ones would be expected to precipitate declines in confidence for bright girls, but not for bright boys. Indeed, in the study cited above, Parsons et al. (1982) found significant sex differences in expectancies for future math courses even when females October 1986 9 American Psychologist nd males were equivalent in their perceptions of their present mathematical ability and in their expectancies for their present math courses. Task preference data as well suggest that a greater discrepancy between present and future tasks in mathematical versus verbal areas may render math less appealing to bright gifts, but perhaps more appealing to bright boys. Bright girls, it will be recalled, tend to prefer tasks they are fairly certain hey are good a t and can do well on, whereas bright boys are more attracted to tasks that pose some challenge to mastery (Licht et al. , 1984; see also Leggett, 1985). Yet another consequence of this proposed mathverbal difference is that in math, children are more likely to experience failure or confusion at the beginning of a new unit or course. This might be expected to produce debilitation (or escape attempts, such as course-dropping) in bright girls but perseverance in bright boys. And, indeed, support for this prediction of differential debilitation comes from the Licht and Dweck (1984) study, described earlier, in which confusion (or no confusion) attended the introduction of new subject matter, and from the Licht et al. (1984) study in which obstacles were encountered in the acquisition of a new skill. In both cases, bright girls showed the most impairment and bright boys the most facilitation. In short, mathematics appears to differ from verbal areas in ways that would make it more compatible with the motivational patterns of bright boys and less compatible with those of bright girls. Thus, given two children with equal mathematical aptitude and mathematical achievement in the grade school years, but with differing motivational patterns, we would predict precisely the sex differences in course taking and long-term achievement that are found to occur (Donlon et al. , 1976; Fennema Sherman, 1977; Hilton Berglund, 1974). With increasing age, children make increasingly consequential decisions, and maladaptive patterns may begin to impair their achievement and constrict their future choices. Maladaptive patterns such as those displayed by bright girls may even fail to foster intellectual growth in general. In a 38-year longitudinal study of IQ change (measured at mean ages of 4. 1, 13. 8, 29. 7, and 41. 6), Kangas and Bradway (1971) found that for males the higher the preadult level, the more they gained in later years, whereas for females the higher the preadult level, the less they gained in later years. In fact, of the six groups in the study (males and females with high, medium, and low preadult IQs), all showed surprisingly large gains over the years (between 15 and 30 points) except the high-IQ females, who showed little gain (about 5 points). Although there are many possible interpretations of these results, the general picture suggests that bright females, compared to bright males, are not thriving. Our analysis suggests that appropriate motivational interventions may help prevent some of the achievement discrepancies between the sexes. Let us turn, then, to the experiences or interventions that appear to foster adaptive motivational patterns. October 1986 9 American Psychologist Experiences That Foster Adaptive Patterns The question for motivational interventions is: What are we aiming for and how do we get there? When one considers the necessity for, but the vulnerability of, confidence within a performance goal framework, one is led to the position that challenge seeking and persistence are better facilitated by attempts to foster a learning goal orientation than by attempts to instill confidence within a performance framework. Nonetheless, much current educational practice alms at creating high-confidence performers and attempts to do so by programming frequent success and praise. (See Brown, Palincsar, Purcell, 1984, for a discussion of this issue. How did this situation arise? I propose that misreading# of two popular phenomena may have merged to produce this approach. First was the growing belief in positive reinforcement (interpreted as frequent praise for small units of behavior) as the way to promote desirable behavior. Yet a deeper understanding of the principles of reinforcement would not lead one to expect that frequent praise for short, easy tasks would create a desire for long, challenging ones or promote persistence in the face of failure. On the contrary, continuous reinforcement schedules are associated with poor resistance to extinction, and errorless learning, as evidenced by Terraces (1969) renowned pigeons, has been found to produce bizarre emotional responses following nonreinforcement. Second was a growing awareness of teacher expectancy effects. As is well known, the teacher expectancy effect refers to the phenomenon whereby teachers impressions about students ability (e. g. manipulated via test information) actually affect students performance, such that the students performance falls more in line with the teachers expectancies (Rosenthal Jacobson, 1968). The research on this self-fulfilling prophecy raised serious concerns that teachers were hampering the intellectual achievement of children they labeled as having low ability. One remedy was thought to lie in making low-ability children feel like high-ability children by means of a high success rate. In light of the implications that were drawn from teacher xpectancy effects, it is interesting to contrast them with the views of the original researchers (see, e. g. , Rosenthal, 1971, 1974; Rosenthal Jacobson, 1968). Unlike many of their followers, they appeared to frame their work within (and provide teachers with) an incremental theory of intelligence. Specifically, in the Rosenthai and Jacobson (1968) study, teachers were told that the test for intellectual blooming indicated that the target children would show remarkable gains in intellectual competence during the school year. Moreover, when hypothesizing possible mechanisms through which gains were produced, the original researchers thought in terms of teachers having stimulated intellectual growth through challenge. And, in reviewing work on undesirable expectancy effects, they lamented that lows seemed to be given too little work, and work that was too easy, to spur cognitive gains (Rosenthal, 1971). (See also, Brown et al. , 1045 1984, who argued cogently that it is not ill treatment, but a failure to teach the necessary high-level skills, that accounts for much of the achievement deficit of low-reading groups. Thus, these original researchers were oriented toward producing intellectual growth in children rather than simply giving children an illusion of intelligence. The motivational research is clear in indicating that continued success on personally easy tasks (or even on difficult tasks within a performance framework) is ineffective in producing stable confidence, challenge seeking, and persistence (Dweck, 1975; Relich, 1983). Indeed, such procedures have sometimes been found to backfire by producing lower confidence in ability (Meyer, 1982; Meyer et al, 1979). Rather, the procedures that bring about more adaptive motivational patterns are the ones that incorporate challenge, and even failure, within a learning-oriented context and that explicitly address underlying motivational mediators (Andrews Debus, 1978; A. Bandura Schunk, 1981; Covington, 1983; Dweck, 1975; Fowler Peterson, 1981; Relich, 1983; Rhodes, 1977; Schunk, 1982). For example, retraining childrens attributions for failure (teaching them to attribute their failures to effort or strategy instead of ability) has been shown to produce sizable changes in persistence in the face of failure, changes that persist over time and generalize across tasks (Andrews Debus, 1978; Dweck, 1975; Fowler Peterson, 1981; Relich, 1983; Rhodes, 1977). Thus far, only short-term experimental manipulations of childrens goal orientations have been attempted (Ames, 1984; Ames et al. , 1977; Elliott Dweck, 1985). Although these goal manipulations have been successful in producing the associated motivational patterns, much research remains to be conducted on how best to produce lasting changes in goal orientation. To date, motivational interventions, such as attribution retraining, have been conducted primarily with less successful students (those who display both a lag in skill level and a maladaptive response to difficulty). Yet, the earlier discussion suggests that some of the brightest students, who in grade school as yet show little or no obvious impairment in the school environment, may be prime candidates for such motivational interventions. Among these are children (e. g. , bright girls) who have had early, consistent, and abundant success yet, despite this (or perhaps even because of this), do not relish the presence or the prospect of challenge. implications for practice and ameliorative interventions. Indeed, ways ofappropriately incorporating issues ofselfconcept into education have long been sought. The social-cognitive approach, by identifying particular selfconceptions (e. g. childrens theories of their intelligence) and by detailing their relationship to behavior, may well provide the means. In addition, there is growing evidence that the conceptualization presented here is relevant not only to effectiveness on cognitive tasks but also to effectiveness in social arenas. 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