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Students’ Achievement Motivation During the School Career: Development, Correlates, and Effects of Ability Grouping

  • Theoretical and empirical research assumes a negative development of student achievement motivation over the course of their school careers (i.e., mean-level declines of achievement motivation). However, the exact magnitude of this motivational change remains elusive and it is unclear whether different motivational constructs show similar developmental trends. Furthermore, it is unknown whether motivational declines are related to a particular school stage (i.e., elementary, middle, or high school) or the school transition, and which additional changes are associated with motivational decreases (e.g., changes in student achievement). Finally, previous research has remained inconsistent regarding the question whether ability grouping of students helps prevent motivational declines or results in additional motivational “costs” for students. This dissertation presents three articles that were designed to address these research questions. In Article 1, a meta-analysis based on 107 independent longitudinal studies investigated student mean-level changes in self-esteem, academic self-concept, academic self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, and achievement goals from first to 13th grade. Article 2 comprised two longitudinal studies with German adolescents (Study: n = 745 students assessed in four waves in grades 5-7; Study 2: n = 1420 students assessed in four waves in grades 5-8). Both longitudinal studies investigated the separate and the joint development of achievement goals, interest, and achievement in math. In Article 3, a longitudinal study (n = 296 high-ability students assessed in four waves in grades 5-7) investigated the effects of full-time ability grouping on student development of academic self-concept and achievement in math. The meta-analysis revealed significant decreases in math and language academic self-concept, intrinsic motivation, and mastery and performance-approach goals, whereas no significant changes in self-esteem, general academic self-concept, academic self-efficacy, and performance-avoidance goals were found. Interestingly, motivational declines were not related to school stage or school transition. In Article 2, decreases in interest and mastery, performance-approach, and performance-avoidance goals were indicated by both longitudinal studies. Development of mastery and performance-approach goals was positively related or unrelated to development in interest and achievement, whereas development of performance-avoidance goals was negatively related or unrelated to development of interest and achievement. Finally, the longitudinal study in Article 3 revealed no significant change in student academic self-concept in math over time. Ability grouping showed no positive or negative effects on student academic self-concept. However, high-ability students that were grouped together demonstrated greater gains in their achievement than high-ability students in regular classes.

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Author:Vsevolod Scherrer
Referee:Franzis Preckel, Michael Schneider
Advisor:Franzis Preckel, Michael Schneider
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of completion:2020/02/14
Publishing institution:Universität Trier
Granting institution:Universität Trier, Fachbereich 1
Date of final exam:2019/12/13
Release Date:2020/02/18
Tag:Development; Motivation; School
GND Keyword:Gruppierung; Leistungsmotivation; Schule; Schullaufbahn; Schüler
Number of pages:294
Licence (German):License LogoCC BY-NC-ND: Creative-Commons-Lizenz 4.0 International

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