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A reality of conducting motivation research in educational settings is that there are tensions between technical standards of research and practical constraints of a given situation. Although adherence to standards for high-quality measurement is critical for good-quality data to be collected, measurement also requires substantial resources to ensure quality. In the current chapter, we discuss several examples of real data collected in different educational settings using a pragmatic measurement framework. Based on contemporary measurement perspectives, the pragmatic measurement framework emphasizes building evidence-based arguments to support the use and interpretation of a measure. Example 1 explores college students’ attitudes toward general education classes. Example 2 tracks students’ classroom motivation over several time points. Example 3 assesses experimental differences from an online motivation intervention. Together the three examples cover a range of possible research questions that researchers may encounter. As a whole, this chapter demonstrates that important and meaningful insights can be gained using pragmatic approaches to measurement. Importantly, we discuss the trade-offs that researchers or other measure users must consider when adopting a pragmatic approach to measurement.
Why do some students become involved and interested in their studies, and why do they continue in a particular academic discipline? Why do some athletes become engaged in their sport, persist at practice, and seek competition against others? Answering these questions requires that we consider the processes underlying intrinsic motivation, or the motivation to engage in an activity for the value inherent in doing it (Deci & Ryan, 1985). As Wood and Quinn (this volume) note, behavior can be guided through several processes that vary in the degree of attention required (see also Schooler and Schreiber, this volume). We have focused on intentional determinants of achievement behavior. In particular, we have studied the factors that influence optimal motivation and believe that goals play an important role in shaping intrinsic motivation and performance. To study goals and motivation, we have examined the role of intrinsic factors such as self-set goals and personal values in promoting interest and performance in academic contexts over time. We have also examined the effects of extrinsic factors such as goal interventions and task characteristics on intrinsic motivation in laboratory studies. How do these intrinsic and extrinsic factors combine to influence performance and ongoing motivation?
Our work has been guided by Harackiewicz and Sansone's (1991; Sansone & Harackiewicz, 1996) process model of intrinsic motivation. Harackiewicz and Sansone draw an important distinction between goals that are suggested or implied externally and the goals that are actually adopted by an individual in a particular situation (the perceived goal; see Figure 2.1).
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