EPPI review (2005) Motivation and assessment

Smith C, Dakers J, Dow W, Head G, Sutherland M, Irwin R (2005) A systematic review of what pupils, aged 11–16, believe impacts on their motivation to learn in the classroom. In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.

This EPPI review, cited by Gilbert, is focusing on motivation of 11-16 year olds. Its main findings identify six themes in the key to motivation. Each theme may have some relevance here. Italics represent direct quotes from the summary of the review.

  • The role of self : how is the learner’s own constructs represented in their view of learning? How does the role of the ‘group’ affect this?
  • Utility: Students are more motivated by activities they perceive to be useful or relevant.
  • Pedagogical issues: Pupils prefer activities that are fun, collaborative, informal and active.
  • Influence of peers: Linked to role of self
  • Learning. Pupils believe that effort is important and can make a difference; they are influenced by the expectations of teachers and the wider community.
  • Curriculum. A curriculum can isolate pupils from their peers and from the subject matter. Some pupils believe it is restricted in what it recognises as achievement; assessment influences how pupils see themselves as learners and social beings. The way that the curriculum is mediated can send messages that it is not accessible at all.

In this last point, the role of assessment is raised. So what does the review have to say about assessment in general?

The way that assessment of the curriculum is constructed and practised in school appears to influence how pupils see themselves as learners and social beings. (Summary, page 4)

… assessment [has a role] in nurturing or negatively influencing motivation (page 6 and page 63)

…the recent systematic review of the impact of summative assessment and tests on student’s motivation for learning acknowledges that ‘motivation is a complex concept’ that ‘embraces… self efficacy, self regulation, interest, locus of control, self esteem, goal orientation and learning disposition’ (Harlen and Deakin Crick, 2002:1) (page 8 of the EPPI review)

Students’ motivation is influenced by their ‘affective assessment’ (Rychlak, 1988) of events, premises and actions which are perceived as meaningful to their existence. (page 35, and linked to ‘logical learning theory’ (uncited))

Student satisfaction with their ‘academic performance tended to be influenced both by grouping, curricular and assessment practices and by its relationship to perceived vocational opportunities’ (Hufton et al., 2002:282). (page 45)

…learning situations that were authentic – in other words, appeared real and relevant to the pupils – could positively influence pupil motivation… ‘Sharing the assessment process with students is another way to capture students’ motivation…When students and teachers analyse pieces of writing together in an exchange of views, students can retain a sense of individual authority as authors and teachers convey standards of writing in an authentic context’ (Potter et al. 2001:53) (page 47 of EPPI)

Harlen W, Deakin Crick R (2002) A systematic review of the impact of summative assessment and tests on students motivation for learning. Version 1.1. In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.

Hufton NR, Elliott JG, Illushin L (2002) Educational motivation and engagement: qualitative accounts from three countries. British Educational Research Journal 28: 265–289.

Potter EF, McCormick CB, Busching BA (2001) Academic and life goals: insights from adolescent writers. High School Journal 85: 45–55.

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