Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Content Specificity of Expectancy Beliefs and Task Values in Elementary Physical Education

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Content Specificity of Expectancy Beliefs and Task Values in Elementary Physical Education

Article excerpt

The curriculum may superimpose a content-specific context that mediates motivation (Bong, 2001). This study examined content specificity of the expectancy-value motivation in elementary school physical education. Students' expectancy beliefs and perceived task values from a cardiorespiratory fitness unit, a muscular fitness unit, and a traditional skill/game unit were analyzed using constant comparison coding procedures, multivariate analysis of variance, [chi square], and correlation analyses. There was no difference in the intrinsic interest value among the three content conditions. Expectancy belief, attainment, and utility values were significantly higher for the cardiorespiratory fitness curriculum. Correlations differentiated among the expectancy value components of the content conditions, providing further evidence of content specificity in the expectancy-value motivation process. The findings suggest that expectancy beliefs and task values should be incorporated in the theoretical platform for curriculum development based on the learning outcomes that can be specified with enhanced motivation effect.

Key words: curriculum, fitness education, motivation

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Enhanced motivation leads to effective learning. The content to be learned, however, may superimpose a context that has strong motivation implications. Bong (2001) suggested learners' motivation may result from their responses to the content. In other words, the learner's motivation may depend on the content being taught and how it is taught. Content specificity of motivation has strong theoretical significance with which educational researchers can link motivation constructs and mechanisms to the curriculum to enhance learning.

The purpose of this study was to examine the content specificity of expectancy-value motivation in elementary school physical education, particularly the hypotheses that (a) different expectancy beliefs and task values would be observed among learners in physical education and (b) the relationship of expectancy-value components would vary based on content differences. The hypotheses were examined in a large-scale, randomized, controlled curriculum intervention research context, in search of the optimal motivation process (Chen & Ennis, 2004; Sansone & Harackiewicz, 2000). We hope this study may provide useful information enabling us to theoretically articulate the possibility of developing a holistic, coherent platform in which curriculum and motivation theories can be incorporated to address the "fun content, but low value" phenomenon (Goodlad, 1984). In addition, we hoped the study would offer solutions to the "high need, low demand" dilemma (Ennis, 2001), in which the physical education curriculum is continuously marginalized in schools while the public is increasingly aware of the health benefits associated with physical activity.

Expectancy-Task Value Construct

Motivated behavior is characterized by voluntary choices, persistent effort, and achievement, which are directly associated with students' expectancy for success and perceived value in specific activities (Jacobs & Eccles, 2000; Wigfield & Eccles, 1992). Wigfield (1994) argued that students' expectancies for success and their perceived values in the content motivate them to learn different tasks. Empirical examinations of the expectancy-value construct over more than two decades have yielded strong classroom-based evidence supporting the argument. According to Wigfield and Eccles (1992), expectancy for success is defined as students' beliefs about how well they will do on upcoming activities.

The perceived task values represent students' perceptions of the attractiveness of a particular task or content. Based on abundant empirical evidence accumulated since 1983, Eccles and her colleagues (e.g., Eccles & Wigfield, 1992, 1995; Jacobs & Eccles, 2000; Jacobs, Lanza, Osgood, Ecdes, & Wigfield, 2002; Wigfield, 1994) identified three common values in various content domains to determine learners' motivation: (a) attainment value refers to personal importance of success in an activity, (b) intrinsic value is the enjoyment the individual gains from the activity, and (c) utility value is the perception of the activity's worth in relation to current and future goals. …

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