Academic journal article Psychologische Beiträge

A Longitudinal Analysis of Dweck's Motivation-Process-Model in the Classroom

Academic journal article Psychologische Beiträge

A Longitudinal Analysis of Dweck's Motivation-Process-Model in the Classroom

Article excerpt

In academic achievement-situations, it is not uncommon to observe negative affects on motivation and behavior patterns after failure which do not correspond with existing abilities. This typically comprises one experiencing the noncontingency between effort and outcome (Abrahamson, Seligman & Teasdale, 1978), having a functional deficit in action-control (a state-orientation; Kuhl, 1983), or making an attribution of failure to the lack of one's own abilities (Dweck, 1975; Dweck & Reppucci, 1973; Dweck & Licht, 1980). Fear reactions have been observed as well (Mikulincer, 1989). The wish to leave the domain and, if this is impossible (as is common in the classroom), a reduced persistence (Diener & Dweck, 1978; Andrew & Debus, 1978; Weiner, 1985) are the consequences of this helplessness. Further failures are then pre-programmed, as it were.

For contrast, adapted cognition - and action patterns exist which manage failure. These consist of a focusing on future performance-situations (an action-orientation; Kuhl, 1983) as well as an attribution of failure to a lack of own effort or external causes (Dweck, 1975; Dweck & Reppucci, 1973; Dweck & Licht, 1980). This results in the maintenance of expectancies and persistence at future performance-requests (Andrews & Debus, 1978; Weiner, 1986).

7.1 Dweck's Motivation-Process-Model

Dweck's Motivation-Process-Model (Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Dweck, 1989) has made available a theory concerning the conditions of helpless versus mastery behavior patterns. The model includes two central statements, which are briefly presented here.

(1) The goals pursued by individuals in performance-situations are influenced mainly by assumptions (implicit theory of intelligence; also called naive talent concept) about whether their talent is a fixed attribute with a definite expression (therefore an entity) or if their aptitude is modifiable, which has a particular level only temporarily. Concerning goals, motivation theorists distinguish between two different motivational orientations (e.g. Ames & Ames, 1984; Nicholls, 1984; 1989; Dweck, 1986). On the one hand persons can aim for the acknowledgement of their abilities or attempt to avoid others' perceptions of their lack of ability; in this case, the incentive lies outside the action itself. The pursuance of such goals is abbreviated by the term performance goal-orientation. On the other hand, one can be interested in making progress in learning and developing his/her abilities. These goals distinguish themselves in the fact that the incentive lies in the action itself and is attended to under the concept of learning goal-orientation. In Dweck's Motivation-Process-Model, these two orientations are conceptualized as two different peculiarities at one dimension, i.e. either a performance goal- or a learning goal-orientation is present (Dweck & Leggett, 1988). According to Dweck, persons who hold an entity view of their abilities are more performance goal-oriented, while persons who have an incremental theory are more likely to be learning goaloriented (Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Dweck, 1989).

(2) The second central statement of Dweck's theory involves the relations between motivational orientation, academic self-concept and the behavior patterns that people show in performance situations (particularly after failure). Dweck and her colleagues (Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Dweck, 1989) postulate an interaction between motivational orientation and academic selfconcept. Accordingly, performance goal-orientation as well as a low academic self-concept are necessary preconditions of helpless behavior patterns. This means two aspects: First, the relevant person must have a performance goal-orientation in addition to a low confidence in his/her own abilities in order for behavior patterns of helplessness to be observed in him/her after failure. Second, a learning goal-orientation protects one from maladaptive outcomes of a low academic self-concept; consequently, along with this comes a character which works to immunize against symptoms of helplessness. …

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