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Are motivational benefits of adequately challenging schoolwork related to students' need for cognition, cognitive ability, or both?

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Abstract
One important predictor of students' intrinsic motivation and schoolwork engagement is the balance between schoolwork difficulty and student skill level, such that students are adequately challenged. However, the question arises whether this is equally true for all students or whether there are students for whom having adequately challenging schoolwork is even more important than for others. In this study, we investigated whether students' cognitive ability and their need for cognition (i.e., their tendency to actively seek, engage in and enjoy effortful cognitive activity) affects students' motivational responses to adequately challenging schoolwork. Building on data from a large-scale survey among 3002 Flemish 7th graders, we found that adequately challenging schoolwork had a more favorable effect on intrinsic motivation and schoolwork engagement for students high in need for cognition than for students low in need for cognition. Student cognitive ability did not moderate the association between adequate challenge and motivational outcomes. The findings are discussed in light of school engagement and intellectual investment theory.
Keywords
General Psychology, Motivation, Engagement, Challenge, Need for cognition, Cognitive ability

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MLA
Lavrijsen, Jeroen, et al. “Are Motivational Benefits of Adequately Challenging Schoolwork Related to Students’ Need for Cognition, Cognitive Ability, or Both?” PERSONALITY AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES, vol. 171, 2021, doi:10.1016/j.paid.2020.110558.
APA
Lavrijsen, J., Preckel, F., Verachtert, P., Vansteenkiste, M., & Verschueren, K. (2021). Are motivational benefits of adequately challenging schoolwork related to students’ need for cognition, cognitive ability, or both? PERSONALITY AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES, 171. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.110558
Chicago author-date
Lavrijsen, Jeroen, Franzis Preckel, Pieter Verachtert, Maarten Vansteenkiste, and Karine Verschueren. 2021. “Are Motivational Benefits of Adequately Challenging Schoolwork Related to Students’ Need for Cognition, Cognitive Ability, or Both?” PERSONALITY AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES 171. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.110558.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Lavrijsen, Jeroen, Franzis Preckel, Pieter Verachtert, Maarten Vansteenkiste, and Karine Verschueren. 2021. “Are Motivational Benefits of Adequately Challenging Schoolwork Related to Students’ Need for Cognition, Cognitive Ability, or Both?” PERSONALITY AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES 171. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2020.110558.
Vancouver
1.
Lavrijsen J, Preckel F, Verachtert P, Vansteenkiste M, Verschueren K. Are motivational benefits of adequately challenging schoolwork related to students’ need for cognition, cognitive ability, or both? PERSONALITY AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES. 2021;171.
IEEE
[1]
J. Lavrijsen, F. Preckel, P. Verachtert, M. Vansteenkiste, and K. Verschueren, “Are motivational benefits of adequately challenging schoolwork related to students’ need for cognition, cognitive ability, or both?,” PERSONALITY AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES, vol. 171, 2021.
@article{8717679,
  abstract     = {{One important predictor of students' intrinsic motivation and schoolwork engagement is the balance between schoolwork difficulty and student skill level, such that students are adequately challenged. However, the question arises whether this is equally true for all students or whether there are students for whom having adequately challenging schoolwork is even more important than for others. In this study, we investigated whether students' cognitive ability and their need for cognition (i.e., their tendency to actively seek, engage in and enjoy effortful cognitive activity) affects students' motivational responses to adequately challenging schoolwork. Building on data from a large-scale survey among 3002 Flemish 7th graders, we found that adequately challenging schoolwork had a more favorable effect on intrinsic motivation and schoolwork engagement for students high in need for cognition than for students low in need for cognition. Student cognitive ability did not moderate the association between adequate challenge and motivational outcomes. The findings are discussed in light of school engagement and intellectual investment theory.}},
  articleno    = {{110558}},
  author       = {{Lavrijsen, Jeroen and Preckel, Franzis and Verachtert, Pieter and Vansteenkiste, Maarten and Verschueren, Karine}},
  issn         = {{0191-8869}},
  journal      = {{PERSONALITY AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES}},
  keywords     = {{General Psychology,Motivation,Engagement,Challenge,Need for cognition,Cognitive ability}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  pages        = {{5}},
  title        = {{Are motivational benefits of adequately challenging schoolwork related to students' need for cognition, cognitive ability, or both?}},
  url          = {{http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2020.110558}},
  volume       = {{171}},
  year         = {{2021}},
}

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