Differential effects of goal setting and value reappraisal on college women's motivation and achievement in statistics



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The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate the differential effects of goal setting and value reappraisal on female students’ self-efficacy beliefs, value perceptions, exam performance and continued interest in statistics. It was hypothesized that the Enhanced Goal Setting Intervention (GS-E) would positively impact students’ self-efficacy beliefs and exam performance, whereas the Enhanced Value-Reappraisal (VR-E) was expected to positively affect students’ value perceptions and continued interest in learning statistics. A total of 88 female undergraduate students enrolled in two sections of an introductory statistics course completed the entire study. Students were primarily Caucasian, upper division, and traditionally aged. Students were stratified on course section and year in school and randomly assigned to one of three groups: Control Group (n=30); GS-E Group (n=27); and VR-E (n=31). GS-E asked students to both set and self-evaluate eight goals focused on reaching learning objectives for their upcoming statistics exam. VR-E presented students with messages about why learning statistics could be important for them and guided them in processing these messages. The Control Condition asked students to complete three Texas Information Literacy Tutorial modules and answer reflective questions. Findings from this dissertation partially supported the hypotheses related to VR-E, but no support was found for the hypotheses related to GS-E. The VR-E Intervention was found to positively impact measures of students’ value perceptions and continued interest. Immediate effects of VR-E were observed on: 1) the overall value students placed on learning statistics; 2) students’ interest and enjoyment of statistics; 3) the importance students placed on developing statistical knowledge and skills for the attainment of their future goals; and 4) students’ intentions to continue learning statistics on their own. However, relatively stronger and longer-lasting effects were observed on the later two variables. Also, students in the VR-E Group outperformed students in the GS-E Group on their post-intervention exam; however, neither group was significantly different from the Control Group. Findings from this research help to address the growing economic and social needs for the development and evaluation of theory-based educational interventions that target the improvement of college students’ achievement and continued interest in math and science education.