Goals, Values, and Beliefs as Predictors of Achievement and Effort in High School Mathematics Classes

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<ul><li><p>Sex Roles, Vol. 40, Nos. 5/6, 1999</p><p>Goals, Values, and Beliefs as Predictors ofA chievement and Effort in High School</p><p>Mathematics Classes1</p><p>Barbara A . Greene,2 Teresa K. DeBacker, Bhuvaneswari Rav indran, andA . Jean KrowsUniversity of Oklahoma</p><p>Gender and motivation in high school mathematics class were examined byusing an expectancy-value framework. There were 366 students (146 males,212 females)from a school with an enrollment of approximately 1900 students(81% Caucasian , 8% Native American , 5% Hispanic, 4% African American ,and 2% Asian). These students completed a questionnaire consisting of 92items which measured students situation-speci c goals (4 subscales), task-speci c values (3 subscales), task-speci c beliefs (3 subscales), and genderself-schemata (2 subscales). Students percentage grade in math and self-reported effort in math class were the dependent variab les. The three sets oftask-speci c variab les each accounted for between 11% and 14% of variancein achievement, while the gender self-schemata variab les contributed another2%. Task-speci c goals were much stronger predictors of effort than anyother set of variab les. An unexpected nding was that, for both males andfemales, endorsing the stereotype that mathematics is a male domain wasnegatively related to reported effort. There were also differences in the predic-tion of achievement and effort based on gender and math class type (requiredor elective). Several path models supported these results.</p><p>Important questions concerning the role of gender in explaining mathemati-</p><p>cal achievement and achievement-re lated behaviors remain unanswered</p><p>despite ongoing research efforts. As Meece, Wig eld, and Eccles noted</p><p>1A version of this paper was presented at the 1997 annual mee ting of the American EducationalAssociation in Chicago. We would like to thank the teache rs who allowed us into their</p><p>classroom and the colleague s who provided us with helpful comments.2To whom corre spondence should be addressed at Departme nt of Educational Psychology,</p><p>University of Oklahoma, 820 Van Vleet Oval, Norman, OK 73019 2041; e-mail:bgreene@ou.edu.</p><p>421</p><p>0360-0025/99/0300 0421$16.00/0 1999 Plenum Publishing Corporation</p></li><li><p>422 Greene et al.</p><p>(1990) , although there is evidence that achievement diffe rences between</p><p>male s and female s are disappe aring, differences in choice s related to mathe -</p><p>matics seem to persist. Of concern is the related nding that females are</p><p>less like ly than male s to choose high school coursework that requires highe r</p><p>level mathematics (Meece et al., 1990) . This is a concern because choice s</p><p>made in high school can limit the choice s available in college and for</p><p>career decisions. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to furthe r our</p><p>understanding of the psychologic al variable s that in uence achievement-</p><p>related behaviors and choice s made by boys and girls in regard to high</p><p>school mathematics by building upon the work of Eccles and her colleague s.</p><p>There have been conside rable efforts focusing on motivational expla-</p><p>nations for gender diffe rences in both achievement and choices related to</p><p>mathematics (Eccles, 1984; Eccles, 1987; Eccles, Adler, &amp; Meece, 1984;</p><p>Fennema &amp; Sherman, 1977; Fennema, 1994; Licht &amp; Dweck, 1983; Mills,</p><p>Ablard &amp; Stumpf 1993) . Much of this work has been in response to consis-</p><p>tent evidence that female s, when compared to male s, have lower con dence</p><p>in the ir math ability and are less like ly to enroll in advance d coursework</p><p>in mathematics. These diffe rences seem to persist even when there is no</p><p>evidence of actual achievement diffe rences.</p><p>Several researchers have sought an explanation for differences in math-</p><p>ematics achievement and choice through the linking of low perceived ability</p><p>in mathematics with ability attributions . For example , Licht and Dweck</p><p>(1983) argued that girls exhibit a maladaptive motivational patte rn in math-</p><p>ematics (i.e ., they have low perceived ability and they attribute the ir failure s</p><p>to ability) that leads to a helpless motivational stance since they convince</p><p>themselves that they cannot be successful. However, Eccles and her col-</p><p>league s tested the gender and learned helple ssness in mathematics hypothe -</p><p>sis and failed to nd support for the he lple ss patte rn tting female s more</p><p>than male s (Eccles, Adle r, and Meece, 1984; Parson, Meece, Adle r, &amp;</p><p>Kaczala, 1982) .</p><p>Fennema and Peterson (1985) also argued for the importance of</p><p>con dence in one s ability to learn math and the role of causal attributions</p><p>for achievement (successes or failure s) in math. Their notion was that</p><p>high-le vel achievement in mathematics require s Autonomous Learning</p><p>Behaviors that deve lop when childre n have high perception of ability; whenthey attribute success to ability and effort, and failure to lack of effort;</p><p>and when they perceive the utility of mathematics. Although these three</p><p>facets of motivation have been supporte d in the lite rature as fostering an</p><p>adaptive stance toward learning (e.g., Schunk, 1989; Eccles et al.,</p><p>1983; Mille r et al., 1996) , there is no direct, empirical evidence that</p><p>problems associated with Autonomous Learning Behaviors (Fennema &amp;Peterson, 1985) offer explanations for gender diffe rences in motivation to</p></li><li><p>Goals, Values, and Beliefs 423</p><p>learn mathematics. However, a recent longitudinal study found differences</p><p>in the strategies reported by male s and female s in solving mathematics</p><p>problems (Fennema, Carpenter, Jacobs, Franke , Levi, 1998) . Fennema et</p><p>al. (1998) found that male s were more like ly to report abstract strategies</p><p>that re ected a deep understanding of mathematics than female s who were</p><p>more like ly to report concre te strategie s. This nding could be inte rpreted</p><p>as supporting the Autonomous Learning Behaviors hypothe sis.Eccles (1984) has argued, and we agree, that an expectancy-value</p><p>framework offers an alternative to the traditional approach of studying</p><p>gender diffe rences in mathematics through attempts to identify the de cits</p><p>shown by female s. In addition to having a philosophica l problem with using</p><p>a medical mode l approach that focuse s on discove ring the female defect</p><p>that impedes motivation to learn mathematics, we be lieve that such an</p><p>approach limits our unde rstanding of the diffe rent factors that in uence</p><p>the motivation of both male s and female s in mathematics.</p><p>The purpose of this study was to use a variation of the expectancy-</p><p>value framework propose d by Eccles and her colle ague s (Eccles et al., 1983;</p><p>Eccles, 1984; Eccles, Wig e ld, Harold, and Blumenfe ld, 1993; Eccles and</p><p>Wig e ld, 1995; Wig eld, 1994; Wig e ld and Eccles, 1992) to explore diffe r-</p><p>ent aspects of gender and motivation that may help explain motivation</p><p>and performance in mathematics. An overview of the model, and our</p><p>modi cations of it, is described below and shown in Fig. 1. The only major</p><p>modi cation, from the earlie r mode l propose d by Eccles et al., (1983) , was</p><p>the inclusion of task-speci c goals as direct in uences on achievement and</p><p>achievement-re lated behaviors. A lthough short term goals were include d</p><p>in the original version of the Expectancy-V alue Mode l (Eccles et al., 1983)</p><p>only long term goals were actually tested in the research conducte d on the</p><p>mode l (Wig e ld, 1994) . Additionally, goals in the original model were</p><p>Fig. 1. Rev ised Expectancy Value Mode l.</p></li><li><p>424 Greene et al.</p><p>conceptualize d as aspects of a child s self that existed prior to encounte ring</p><p>an achievement situation (Eccles et al., 1983) , whereas in our formulation</p><p>the goals are part of the child s inte rpretation of the current achievement</p><p>situation (Maehr, 1984) . In this sense, we have borrowed from Maehr s</p><p>(1984) notion of goals as part of a student s Components of Meaning (i.e .,</p><p>the student s interpretation of an achievement situation) and added them</p><p>to the Expectancy-Value Mode l. We believe the addition of task-speci c</p><p>goals will add to the power of the model to explain achievement and</p><p>achievement-re lated behaviors and think they might act as mediators be-</p><p>tween task-spe ci c value s and achievement and achievement-re lated behav-</p><p>iors. We also agreed with Meece et al., (1990) that choosing to take course s</p><p>in mathematics is an important indicator of motivation, and thought that</p><p>comparing motivational constructs for male and female students in required</p><p>course s (situations without choice ) and elective course s (situations with</p><p>choice ) would be an informative approach to the issue of choice .</p><p>An Expectancy-Value Model and G ender Differences</p><p>The Eccles et al. (1983) mode l propose s that an individual s achieve-</p><p>ment-related behaviors (persistence, choice , and performance ) can be pre-</p><p>dicted by subje ctive task value s and expectancie s for success; which in turn</p><p>can be predicted by task be lie fs, broad goals, and general self-schemata.</p><p>Task be liefs, broad goals, and general self-schemata are seen as predicted</p><p>by an individual s perception of the attitude s and expectancie s of her/his</p><p>socialize rs and her/his inte rpretations of past experiences. The research</p><p>done using the mode l has provided evidence that different patte rns of</p><p>behaviors are predicted by diffe rent patte rns of task values and outcomes</p><p>expectancies (Eccles et al., 1983; Wig e ld and Eccles, 1992; Wig e ld, 1994) .</p><p>In our study we have focused only on the inte rnal factors associate d with</p><p>task values, expectancie s, task be lie fs, goals, and self-schemata as predictors</p><p>of achievement-re lated behaviors and performance .</p><p>The Role of Subjective Task Values. There are three subjective taskvalues proposed in the model that are concerned with how a task meets</p><p>the diffe rent needs of an individual (Wig e ld and Eccles, 1992; Wig e ld,</p><p>1994) . Attainment value is the importance of doing well on a particular</p><p>task. High attainment value is seen when an individual needs to prove to</p><p>herself/himse lf that she /he can be successful at some task. Intrinsic value</p><p>is the enjoyment an individual experiences while engaged in the task. Utility</p><p>value is the perceived usefulness of completing the task. A task can be</p><p>valued for the options available once the task is comple ted (e.g, knowledge</p><p>or a requirement needed for some other goal) , even though it satis es no</p></li><li><p>Goals, Values, and Beliefs 425</p><p>inhe rent need. In the Eccles model, these task value s are in uenced by</p><p>task speci c be liefs and a student s general goals and general self-schemata.</p><p>Evidence for gender diffe rences in subjective value s toward mathemat-</p><p>ics has been mixed (Wig e ld &amp; Eccles, 1994) . For example , evidence that</p><p>male s valued mathematics more than females was found in some of the</p><p>earlie r studie s (Eccles, 1984; Eccles et al., 1983; Eccles, Adle r, &amp; Meece,</p><p>1984; Wig e ld, 1984) , but not in the more recent studie s (e.g., Eccles,</p><p>Wig e ld, Harold, &amp; Blumenfe ld, 1993; Wig e ld &amp; Eccles, 1994) . Eccles et</p><p>al. (1993) did nd, though, that boys and girls in the ir elementary school</p><p>sample showed diffe rent orderings of value s placed on diffe rent subje cts</p><p>(math, reading, music, sports, and sports-re lated activitie s) , and girls had</p><p>math valued at the bottom while boys had it near the top. So although</p><p>males and female s showed the same leve l of value on mathematics, when</p><p>subje cts were rank ordered in terms of valuing, mathematics was lower in</p><p>the ordering for female s. It should be noted however, that the more recent</p><p>studie s also had younge r, pre-high school participants . As Wig e ld and</p><p>Eccles (1992) noted, the ir work sugge sts that gender differences in the</p><p>valuing of mathematics become increasingly pronounce d in the high</p><p>school years.</p><p>The Role of Task-Speci c Beliefs. Like task value s, expectancie s for</p><p>success are shown to be direct predictors of achievement-re lated choice s</p><p>(e.g., enrollment in course s) in the Eccles et al. model. Expectancie s for</p><p>success are an individual s belie fs about whether she /he will be successful</p><p>on a future task. In their earlier work, Eccles et al. (1983) showed expectan-</p><p>cies and ability perceptions as separate constructs, but they have since</p><p>acknowle dged that competence be lie fs and expectancie s are often not em-</p><p>pirically separate (Wig e ld and Eccles, 1992; Wig e ld, 1994; Eccles and</p><p>Wig e ld, 1995) . As others have also found the two constructs indistinguish -</p><p>able in the ir research (e.g., Mille r, Behrens, Greene and Newman, 1993;</p><p>Greene and Mille r, 1996) , we chose to modify the Eccles et al., mode l and</p><p>have a single perception of ability construct that include s both task-speci c</p><p>competency and expectancy be lie fs (see Fig. 1).</p><p>Gender differences in competence be lie fs have consistently been found</p><p>with female participants reporting lower competence be liefs than males in</p><p>mathematics (Eccles, 1984; Eccles et al., 1983; Eccles, Wig e ld, Harold, &amp;</p><p>Blumenfe ld, 1993; Wig eld,1984; Wig e ld &amp; Eccles, 1994) . There are three</p><p>other common ndings from this body of work that make the lower compe-</p><p>tence belie fs for female s worthy of concern. First, as noted earlier, the lower</p><p>competence be liefs are found when there is no evidence of achievement</p><p>differences. Second, the differences show up as early as the rst grade</p><p>(Eccles et al., 1993 &amp; Wig eld &amp; Eccles, 1994) . Third, while value s are</p><p>found to predict choice in mathematics enrollment, competence belie fs are</p></li><li><p>426 Greene et al.</p><p>found to predict performance . A similar patte rn of gender diffe rences</p><p>has also been found by other researchers studying mathematics self-</p><p>ef cacy (e.g., Lent, Lopez, &amp; Bieschke , 1991; Mille r et al., 1996; Pajare s,</p><p>1996) .</p><p>Following the Eccles et al. mode l, we also include d perceptions of</p><p>mathematics dif culty as a task-spe ci c be lie f. According to Eccles and</p><p>Wig e ld (1995) , perceptions of task dif culty should be negative ly related</p><p>to perception of ability and task value s. If a task is viewed as very dif cult,</p><p>an individual should be less con dent in her/his ability to succeed with the</p><p>task, which should decrease the valuing of that task. The idea here is that</p><p>protection of one s ego or self-esteem is the over-arching goal.</p><p>In a minor modi cation of the Eccles et al. (1983) mode l we include d,</p><p>as a third task-spe ci c be lief, a measure of the extent to which an individual</p><p>believes that mathematics is a male domain. According to sample items</p><p>provide d by Wig eld (1994) , the measure of domain stereotyping include d</p><p>in the work of Eccles and her colle ague s was conceived of as an aspect of the</p><p>individual s general self-schemata and achievement-re lated goals. Eccles et</p><p>al. (1983) argued that domain stereotype s are only germane when gender</p><p>identity is also stereotyped and we suspect that that is why the domain</p><p>stereotype variable was placed with general goals in their model. We have</p><p>chosen to conceptualize it in terms of a task-spe ci c belief to be consistent</p><p>with evidence supporting the value of task-spe ci c measure s (e.g., Maehr,</p><p>1984; Marsh, 1992; Greene and Mille r, 1996) .</p><p>There were tw...</p></li></ul>


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