College Students' Motivation toward Weight Training: A Combined Perspective

By Gao, Zan | Journal of Sport Behavior, March 2008 | Go to article overview

College Students' Motivation toward Weight Training: A Combined Perspective


Gao, Zan, Journal of Sport Behavior


Resent research documented poor student participation in sports and physical activity at the college level, leading to health problems such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes among college students (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 1997; Dinger & Waigandt, 1997; Douglas et al., 1997; Patrick, Covin, Fulop, Callas, & Lovato, 1997; Wiley et al., 1996). Therefore, determining ways to encourage and motivate college students to be more physically active through physical activity programs becomes an important concern. As a major construct for motivation, expectancy beliefs represent the key idea that most individuals will not choose to do a task or continue to engage in a task when they expect to fail. However, this influence of expectancy beliefs is only observed when adequate incentives (e.g., importance, interest) for behaviors are presented (Bandura, 1986; Pintrinch & Schunk, 1996). Accordingly, when investigating students' motivational processes in sports and physical activity, it is important to include both expectancy beliefs and their related incentives.

Currently, there are a variety of motivational theories that include some type of expectancy beliefs and their corresponding incentives. Among them, expectancy-value model and self-efficacy theory have been applied to explain how motivation influences achievement behaviors (e.g., choice, persistence, and performance) in sport and educational contexts (Bandura, 1986, 1997; Eccles et al., 1983). What these two theoretical perspectives have in common are beliefs about one's perceived capability and incentives to participate in certain activities. They have shown promise in explaining students' motivation and achievement. These two perspectives, however, have been examined separately in past work in sport and physical education. Eccles and Wigfield (2002) suggested that there is a need for theoretical combination in the field, particularly with respect to theories that incorporate expectancy beliefs and their related incentive constructs. Therefore, these two theories were combined in the present study in the context of a college beginning weight training class.

Expectancy-value Model of Achievement Choice

The expectancy-value model of achievement choice has been proposed by Eccles and Wigfield and their colleagues (Eccles et al., 1983; Wigfield & Eccles, 1992, 1994; Wigfield, Eccles, & Rodriguez, 1998). According to this model, students' achievement performance, the amount of effort exerted, persistence, and choice of achievement tasks are influenced by their expectancy-related beliefs and task values they attach to achievement tasks (Eccles et al., 1983).

Eccles and her colleagues (Eccles et al., 1983; Eccles & Wigfield, 1995) proposed that expectancy-related beliefs consist of both ability beliefs and expectancies for success. Ability beliefs are defined as individuals' evaluations of their competence in different achievement tasks. Expectancies for success refer to individuals' beliefs about how well they will do on an upcoming task and are closely related to their ability beliefs. Research focusing on students' expectancy-related beliefs about different tasks in sport and physical education demonstrates that this construct plays a crucial role in students' motivation and influences their achievement behaviors such as effort/persistence and performance (Cox & Whaley, 2004; Xiang, Chen, & Bruene, 2005; Xiang, McBride, & Bruene, 2004a; Xiang, McBride, & Bruene, 2006).

In the Eccles et al. model (1983), task values are defined as incentives for engaging in different activities. Attainment value (importance), intrinsic value (interest), and utility value (usefulness) comprise important aspects of task values. Importance concerns the personal importance of doing well on the task in terms of salient aspects of one's self-schema and core personal values (e.g., achievement needs and competence needs). …

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