Interaction of Epistemological Beliefs and Motivation
There are reasons to think that a student’s motivation to learn will influence his or her epistemological beliefs and these beliefs will also affect said motivation. Before proceeding to look at these possible interactions we should look at contemporary theories of motivation and theories about students' beliefs about knowledge and knowing. Unfortunately there is still no broad consensus about either topic so we shall look at the prominent theories of today. First we will glance at five theories of motivation, then peek at six theories about student epistemological beliefs, and proceed with a discussion of how motivation to learn can alter one’s epistemological beliefs concluding with some ways in which epistemological beliefs may guide motivation.
There are many aspects that are theorized to have influences on student motivation and many theories were formulated attempting to capture the most important of them. Generally accepted and well articulated theories can be grouped into five families: expectancy-value theory, attribution theory, social cognitive theory, goal orientation theory, and self-determination theory. We will look at each briefly, summarizing their key constructs.
Expectancy-Value Theory, a later development of Achievement Motivation Theory, deals with the learner’s resultant achievement motivation (which results from the synthesis of hope of success and fear of failure). The motivation is considered a function of expectancy of achieving the desired outcome and (possibly multifaceted) value placed on the outcome or task. Attribution Theory claims a student’s motivation will result from his or her ascription of causes of outcomes of events. A version of the theory (Weiner 1979) adds a third dimension of controllability of an outcome to the established two: locus of control and stability of an outcome. A see the cause for some outcome to be internal or external to him- herself, judge the outcome as stable or unstable over time, and finally see it as controllable or uncontrollable. When a cause is seen as internal, stable, and controllable, motivation is at its highest. A move away from this position will undermine student’s motivation. Social Cognitive Theory’s key construct is self-efficacy, the beliefs about capabilities to learn or perform actions at designated levels [Schunk & Zimmerman 356]. “Self-efficacy is a stronger and more consistent predictor of motivation and performance than are general constructs (e.g., self-concept)” [Schunk & Zimmerman 357]. Achievement Goal Theory or Goal Orientation Theory conceptualizes two types of goals: mastery goals (associated with acquisition of knowledge or skills to improve over self) and performance goals (usually a desire to display competence by besting others). Theorists further break each goal into two possible dimensions: approach (working towards the goal) and avoid (disengaging and preventing...