A Structural Model of Motivational Beliefs in Effort and Ability, Goals Orientation and Learning Strategies of Hong Kong Teacher Education Students

Year: 2010

Author: Leung, Man-Tak

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

It had been argued and debated quite for a long time by local researchers whether motivational beliefs in effort and ability would have significant effects on students’ achievement goals and learning behaviors. In fact, a key factor related to cultural differences in the service and support of education would be the relative emphasis that culture would value/place on innate ability and effort. According to Weiner (1986), students who attributed success/failure to effort were more likely to incline to working harder than a student who attributed success/failure to innate ability. Popular and favorite Chinese saying: “Genius comes from hard work and knowledge depends on accumulation” (Tong, Zhao, & Yang, 1985) as well as the Chinese proverb: “The slow bird needs to start out early” both clearly explained that effort and innate ability would induce and lead to different achievement outcomes. Hau & Salili (1990) studied the causal attributions and achievement goals of primary school students in Hong Kong. Twelve specific causes including effort and ability were provided, and the students were required to rate the importance of each of them with respect to their performance in an actual examination. Results indicated that as compared to the junior students, the senior form students were learning oriented and they attributed their importance more to internal causes such as effort. In another study, Salili & Mak (1988) found that “effort” was perceived by Hong Kong students as the most important antecedents for academic achievement, while “being wealthy” and “career success” the lesser importance. Although these studies had investigated the attribution causes in academic achievements for Hong Kong students, they had not attempted to examine the structural relationships among motivational beliefs, achievement goals and learning strategies which were prevalent factors leading to desirable achievement outcomes. The present study attempted to establish a structural model consisting of the constructs of motivational beliefs (effort vs. ability), achievement goal orientations (learning goal vs. performance goal) and learning strategies (rehearsal, elaboration, organization, critical thinking). It was hypothesized that there were significant relationships among motivational beliefs in effort and ability, achievement goals and learning strategies at the p = .05 level. Belief in ability would have positive and significant effect on performance goal. Belief in effort would exert positive and significant effect on learning goal. Around 200 Hong Kong tertiary institute students were invited to participate in the present research. There were three adapted questionnaires on beliefs in effort and ability, achievement goals and learning strategies to be used and were administered to the participants. Findings showed that belief in effort had positive and significant effect on learning goal, whereas belief in ability had positive and significant effect on performance goal. Besides, learning goal orientation had positive and significant effects on rehearsal, elaboration, organization, critical thinking, whereas performance goal orientation had non-significant effects on these learning strategies, except the rehearsal strategy. More importantly, a structural model (utilizing path analysis by LISREL) comprising the complex interrelationships among beliefs in effort and ability, achievement goals and learning strategies could be established and substantiated by empirical data. The findings of the present research could contribute to help widen the knowledge into the characteristics of student teachers’ motivation and learning processes. It also deepened the insight into the inter-correlation and complexities of the variables on learning outcomes. Teacher educators would become more aware of these influential factors affecting the quality of learning outcomes and they would develop improved pedagogical strategies and implement necessary curricular programs to cater for the needs of the student teachers. Hence, the institutional resources and facilities could be adjusted/modified aiming at providing a better environment conducive to more desirable learning outcomes. Implications for further researches with consideration of socio-cultural framework/explanation would be discussed as well.