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Studying Math Motivation

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One of the responsibilities of this blog is to troll for interesting or useful research articles about student motivation.

This morning, I found one while trolling on the American Educational Research Association site. Titled "Students' Motivation for Standardized Math Exams," the article examines how individual differences in motivation and psychological processing affect performance on high-stakes math assessments. It evaluates how factors such as achievement goals, self-concept, and test anxiety are related to student performance.

Among other interesting information, the piece includes excerpts from interviews with 8th graders about high-stakes math tests. "Usually tests make me nervous," says one student. "Kind of anxious like I had to hurry and then when I hurry I might not get the right answer. Like I'm worried about making the time or falling behind the other kids or something ... if they're all done before me, I feel like I am not doing it correctly."

What impact do you think high-stakes assessments have on motivation or performance?

3 Comments

This is so interesting to me in the year 2007. As a 67 year old grandmother whose greatest nightmare was math and the tests and the panic. I am once again relieved to see that test time and looking to see whether others are finished is still part of the scene. My 6th grade report card shows arithmatic at a C where language, music and spelling rated an A plus. I turned out to be a professional speaker and
authored several books. The script was written long ago un beknownst to me. Still in all I remember the FEAR of the timed tests. My grandaughter 8th grade was taking the SATs for practice last month. Accelerated seems to be the word of the parents. Why are we hurrying to test at that age? Any ideas?
Janie Jasin CSP

In chapter 3 and appendix B of Defending Standardized Testing (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2005), you will find an organized listing of several hundred studies related to the motivational affects of (mostly high-stakes) examinations. This research literature is dense, vast, and almost a century old.

As a 67 year old grandmother whose greatest nightmare was math and the tests and the panic. I am once again relieved to see that test time and looking to see whether others are finished is still part of the scene. My 6th grade report card shows arithmatic at a C where language, music and spelling rated an A plus.

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