Preservice teachers' reasoning about cases with motivational dilemmas
Owens, Ashley M
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The present study consisted of two experiments conducted with preservice teachers enrolled in introductory educational psychology classes. The findings provided evidence for the effectiveness of written cases in solving motivational dilemmas and shed light on the conditions that foster the transfer of knowledge from one written case to a related one. Consistent with a constructivist view of learning and transfer, the conditions included both characteristics of the preservice teachers themselves as well as characteristics of the cases. One finding was that preservice teachers who are highly motivated themselves, as indicated by the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire, tend to construct a greater number of valid solutions to motivational dilemmas, particularly intrinsic-motivation solutions. This is important because intrinsic motivation is considered to be particularly important by educators and because preservice teachers who are intrinsically motivated themselves may foster intrinsic motivation in their students. This finding implies that motivation to learn is an essential characteristic of those preservice teachers who become adept at encouraging others to learn. Another important finding was that studying analog closed cases helped preservice teachers construct a greater number of valid solutions to motivational dilemmas in open-ended target cases. This finding empirically documents the effectiveness of using written cases in an instructional context where one week separated the cases and the preservice teachers were not informed that the cases were related. A majority of the preservice teachers reported in subsequent interviews that they connected the cases on their own and found the analog closed cases to be helpful. A third important finding was that when preservice teachers were provided with both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation examples, more intrinsic solutions were constructed than extrinsic ones, perhaps reflecting a preference for intrinsic solutions. From a theoretical perspective, the findings suggest that analog closed cases can provide instructional scaffolding for preservice teachers and provide rich, situated contexts for learning.