The Dynamic Interplay of Student Motivation and Cognition in the College of Education Students at Kuwait University

Article excerpt

An everlasting controversial issue in is the problem of teaching students to become initiativemotivated, and self-regulating learners. This study focuses on the interactive relationships between students' motivation and cognition in the College of Education students at Kuwait University - more specifically, the relationships between students' motivational orientation and their use of cognitive learning strategies as well as their metacognitive and effort management strategies (cf. Pintrich, 1988; Pintrich, Smith, & Mckeachie, 1989). Some preliminary empirical results from current research on college students' motivation, cognition, and achievement in different College of Education students are also presented.

In education an especially important issue is how to promote in teachers the skills to produce more active and motivated learners. National reports focus on the necessity of improving teachers' efforts in teaching students at elementary, secondary, and university levels - not only the content of the curriculum but also the "process" or "critical thinking" skills. This concept is based on the assumption that knowledge in different disciplines may change rapidly all over the world. Consequently, students need to acquire factual knowledge, basic skills, critical thinking skills, and so on, which enable them to evaluate new ideas and concepts (Ames, 1992; Glaser, 1984; Pintrich, Cross, Kozma, & McKeachie, 1986; Schunk, 1991; Wentzel, 1997).

Most of the research into teaching higher order skills focuses on the cognitive and instructional variables as important components for fostering student learning (Chance, 1986; Sternberg, 1985). Dweck and Elliott (1983) showed that motivational constructs such as goals and values are assumed to guide students' approach to a task and therefore may influence their cognition. It seems likely that cognitive skills are not learned or employed in isolation from motivation. Motivation seems to be implicated when students are taught cognitive skills and they seem to learn them, but do not employ them in all situations.

Most motivational models of students' achievement do not incorporate cognitive skills or strategies and almost all models imply that students who have a positive motivational orientation (e.g., high self-efficiency, high task value, adoption of a learning goal, low anxiety, etc.) will work harder and harder at a task with a concomitant increase in performance. For example, a college student may study for many hours a week using ineffective or inefficient strategies, but she/he will not do as well as a student using effective learning strategies. Thus Paris, Lipson, and Wixson (1983) show that neither an unmotivated student nor a motivated student without appropriate cognitive skills will perform well.

A number of authors have studied different models of motivation that may be relevant to college students' learning. For example, Weiner (1980) studied some general motivational models, especially the general expectancy value model (value component that reflects students' beliefs in the importance of, and interest in, a task). Expectancy components are also generally more familiar and more often examined than are value components (Pearsons & Goff, 1978).

Expectancy of success is defined as the students' belief in the probability of success or failure of a particular task. Lewalter (2003) studied the cognitive strategies for learning from static and dynamic visuals; he used think-aloud protocols to examine the learning processes initiated by both types of visuals. When learning with dynamic illustrations, learners are confronted with similar or even more challenging - problems (Lowe, 1999, 2003).

Bandura (1993) discovered that when individuals with high self-efficacy were challenged by a difficult situation they were more likely to attempt different strategies, or to develop new ones, and were less likely to give up than were people with a low sense of self-efficacy. …