Effects of Dispositional Ability Conceptions, Manipulated Learning Environments, and Intrinsic Motivation on Persistence and Performance: An Interaction Approach

By Li, Weidong; Lee, Amelia M. et al. | Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, March 2008 | Go to article overview

Effects of Dispositional Ability Conceptions, Manipulated Learning Environments, and Intrinsic Motivation on Persistence and Performance: An Interaction Approach


Li, Weidong, Lee, Amelia M., Solmon, Melinda, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport


The present study used an interaction approach to investigate how individuals' dispositions about ability as incremental or fixed (entity), manipulated learning environments, and intrinsic motivation affect persistence and performance on a challenging, novel motor skill. Seventy-two female college students who were assigned to either an incremental or entity learning condition for instruction and practice completed questionnaires and attempted to learn the skill. The results indicated that participants oriented toward incremental beliefs were likely to be more intrinsically motivated. Participants who were intrinsically motivated were likely to perform better on a final skill test. The significant interaction effect on persistence suggests that participants who were highly intrinsically motivated in the incremental condition persisted longer than those in the entity condition.

Key words: entity and incremental views, Lunastix, motivation

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When students learn a skill, they bring their personal beliefs systems and assumptions about themselves and others to the context. Entry characteristics, such as ability beliefs (Solmon & Lee, 1996), serve to govern human behavior in different achievement domains, including exercise and movement-related situations (Duda, 2001), and have important implications for achievement motivation. Students' conceptions will lead them to view ability as being largely fixed and unchangeable (entity) or malleable (incremental) through their efforts. The literature has strongly suggested that the dispositional ability conceptions adopted by students have a great impact on their motivation and behavioral responses (Dweck, 1999). Dispositional ability conceptions are defined as the beliefs about ability individuals endorse when they enter a learning situation. There is also evidence that the particular ability conception an individual adopts could be influenced by the environment and the situational features created by teachers as they emphasize either an entity or incremental ability conception (e.g. Jagacinski & Nicholls, 1984; Thill & Brunel, 1995). Teachers can promote an incremental conception of ability by creating a mastery-oriented learning environment. If outperforming others and social comparisons are emphasized over time, however, students can be influenced to organize their thinking toward an entity conception of ability and a maladaptive view of achievement (Li & Lee, 2004; Xiang & Lee, 1998; Xiang, Lee, & Williamson, 2001).

Research to date, however, has dealt with the effects of manipulated learning environments on motivation and behavioral responses without accounting for the dispositional ability conceptions individuals endorse when entering an achievement context (for a review, see Li & Lee, 2004). An interactive approach has a central role in attempts to understand and predict human motivation and behavior (Tabernero & Wood, 1999). Tabernero and Wood (1999) investigated how dispositional ability conceptions and manipulated learning environments influenced individuals' self-efficacy, self-satisfaction, goals, and performance on a complex, novel task using a situation-disposition interaction approach. Their findings indicated the interaction between ability conception and manipulated learning affected incremental theorists' self-set goals and self-evaluative reactions, although the manipulated learning environments did not override the effects of dispositional conceptions on motivational response patterns. Participants endorsing incremental views in the learning condition were more satisfied and set more challenging goals compared to those in the entity learning condition and those with entity ability conceptions in either condition. The Tabernero and Wood (1999) study represents an initial step toward understanding how dispositions interact with situations to affect motivation and behavior responses and provides the basis for future work. …

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