Infuences on pre-service teachers' beliefs about motivation
Harper, Jennifer Le' Shay
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Three studies were conducted to investigate pre-service teachers’ beliefs about motivation in the first and last weeks of an introductory educational psychology course. The first study qualitatively analyzed 184 journal entries in which pre-service teachers responded to a scenario depicting a classroom with common motivation issues by suggesting three likely causes of the problems and three strategies for addressing the problems. The second study analyzed 33 pre-service teachers’ responses to a questionnaire given in the first and last weeks of the Fall 2008 semester in order to investigate influences on their beliefs about motivation and whether or not their beliefs changed after taking an educational psychology course. The questionnaire was designed to measure their beliefs about the sources of student motivation, whether they hold an entity or incremental view of motivation, and their beliefs about the usefulness of common motivation strategies. Also measured were potential influences on these beliefs, including their own goal orientations as students in K-12, their anticipated teacher efficacy, and other demographic information. The third study investigated other influences on pre-service teachers’ beliefs about motivation through semi-structured interviews conducted with eight participants and specifically addressed the influence of the course on any belief change. The results of all three studies indicate that these pre-service teachers hold conflicting beliefs about student motivation, particularly about the sources of motivation influenced primarily by their own experiences as successful and motivated students. While the results suggests that they entered the course with an incremental view of motivation and a belief that the teacher is a source of student motivation, these beliefs did not increase, or change after taking the course. One area that did change was an increase in endorsement of “helpless strategies”, which state that there is very little a teacher can do to increase student motivation. Implications for the design of educational psychology courses and teacher education are discussion, as are suggestions for future research.