The role of students’ motivational characteristics in learning with technology in classrooms
Since the one-to one use of mobile devices such as tablet computers has become more widespread in schools (Haßler, Major & Hennessy, 2016), the question of how students learn effectively with technology is attracting increasing attention both in educational research and in educational practice. Given the assumption that the use of technology has the potential to enhance teaching and learning processes in classrooms, many countries have launched educational policy programs aimed at equipping classes or entire schools with technology. Against this backdrop, a growing amount of research is focusing on the necessary competencies of teachers, which enables them to fully exploit the potential of the technology in teaching and thus, to create meaningful learning environments (Harris, Mishra, & Koehler, 2009). However, up to now little attention is given to students’ individual prerequires such as the motivational characteristics that relate to learning with technology in classrooms (Chiampa, 2014). As a long tradition of teaching research shows, individual learning prerequisites are one of the most important determinants of successful learning processes (Snow, Corno & Jackson, 1996). In this vein, first studies also imply the important role of students’ motivational characteristics for learning with technology (Courtois et al., 2013). In this symposium, we take a multi-perspective approach that considers students’ motivational characteristics both as predictors and outcomes of technology-enhanced learning. In particular, we examine influencing factors shaping students’ motivation towards learning with technology ranging from contextual factors, individual characteristics, the classroom environment as well as technology-based instruction itself. The data originate from the tabletBW school initiative started in 2016 in the state of Baden-Württemberg, in which 56 classes of the 7th grade of general secondary schools were equipped with tablet computers. In addition, control classes were identified which, like the tablet classes, had applied to participate in the school trial in vain. Teachers as well as students and their parents of the tablet and control classes took part in various surveys and tests at various times. The data reported here mainly refer to students of the first cohort of a total of 28 tablet and control classes each (N ≈ 1.400). (The data of the individual contributions differ depending on the availability of complete data sets for the variables in question).
Contribution 1 addresses parents as important contextual factor for shaping students’ technology-related motivational learning prerequisites. In particular, it is investigated how parents’ values, beliefs and behavior influence their children’s media self-efficacy. Contribution 2 addresses how students’ self-regulation preference shapes their technology-related motivational learning perquisites such as media self-efficacy and motivation for media use. In contribution 3 the mechanisms of individual interest promotion within tablet-based math-lessons is investigated by taking into account individual and contextual influencing factors (i.e., student characteristics, the classroom environment). Finally, contribution 4 focuses on the changes in students’ motivational processes as regards situational interest and willingness to invest effort in Mathematics and German-language lessons when tablets are introduced in instruction.
Beiträge des Symposiums
How do parents’ beliefs and behavior affect students’ media self-efficacy?
Besides how teachers use technology in the classroom, parents at home may also have a pivotal role in shaping their children’s success in learning with digital media. Following Eccles et al.’s socialization model (1983), parents’ beliefs predict their behaviors which in turn shape students’ beliefs. For example, when parents have positive beliefs about a subject such as math, they pass these beliefs onto their children through their behavior such as encouraging their children to like math or performing math activities together (Simpkins, Fredricks, & Eccles, 2012). In the present paper we aim to use the expectancy-value theory (EVT) in two ways. We investigate parents’ task values based on Eccles et al. (1983) to take into account the costs associated with using digital media relative to the benefits and see whether these values predict students’ media self-efficacy. In addition, we use the parent socialization model, one link of the EVT framework, to understand how parents’ beliefs may predict students’ beliefs by investigating whether parents’ behaviors using digital media mediate the effect of parents’ beliefs on students’ beliefs.
Data was obtained from parents of N = 1383 students of cohort 1 and cohort 2 in tablet and control classes of the tabletBW project. When parents were requested to sign consent forms for their children to participate in the study, they were also asked to voluntarily participate in a questionnaire. We developed the parent questionnaire using the four task values from Eccles et al.’s expectancy-value model (1983). The questionnaire asks parents about their beliefs concerning digital media, including intrinsic values (e.g. ‘I like using digital media’), utility values (e.g. ‘understanding digital media has many benefits in my daily life’), emotional cost (e.g. ‘when I deal with digital media, I get annoyed’), attainment value (e.g. ‘using digital media makes me a more knowledgeable person’), and opportunity cost (e.g. ‘my reading and writing skills suffer because of using digital media’). Additionally, parents were asked to provide information on two behaviors: modeling and provision. Modeling was measured by asking parents how much time they spent at home using smart phones, tablets, or computer or laptops on a typical day (Laurciella, Wartella, & Rideout, 2015). Provision was measured by separately asking parents whether their child had their own smart phone, tablet, computer or laptop, and gaming console and at which age their child received the digital device (Simpkins et al., 2012). Lastly, students’ media self-efficacy was assessed before tablet classes received their one-to-one devices by a scale used in the recent PISA study (Reiss, Sälzer, Schiepe-Tiska, Klieme, & Köller, 2016). Applying the definition from Bong and Skaavalik (2003), media self-efficacy can be understood as the extent to which a student believes he or she can successfully operate digital media and is largely formed by students’ prior experiences with using digital devices successfully or not.
We found parents’ utility and intrinsic values positively correlated with students’ media self-efficacy while parents’ attainment value and opportunity and emotional costs did not. These results may suggest the extent to which parents enjoy using digital media (intrinsic value) and find it useful (utility value) are more important for students’ development of media self-efficacy than the emotional and opportunity costs. Using Hayes’ PROCESS macro, we found no significant indirect effects including all modeling and provision indicators in the parallel mediator model. Despite previous research showing both modeling and provision mediate the relations between parents’ and children’s beliefs regarding math, music, and sports (Simpkins et al., 2012), they appear to not act as mediators in explaining how parents’ intrinsic and utility values affect students’ media self-efficacy.
The impact of students’ self-regulatory preferences on their perception of digital media
The advent of digital media into the classroom significantly changes how students are taught in school. Thus, students in the tabletBW project face the challenge of adapting to new teaching activities. From other fields it is known that successfully dealing with change is influenced by a person’s self-regulation preference (Kruglanski, Pierro, Higgins, & Capozza, 2007). Regulatory focus theory (Higgins, 1997) distinguishes between promotion and prevention focus to describe such preferences. With a strong promotion focus, individuals follow their ideals, strive for success, are sensitive to positive events and are more open for change; with a strong prevention focus, people follow their commitments, strive for security, are sensitive to negative events and less open for change (Liberman, Idson, Camacho, & Higgins, 1999; Werth & Förster, 2007).
It was investigated whether students’ self-regulatory preference (i.e., their promotion or prevention focus) has an impact on how they deal with the newly introduced tablet computers. Because of their openness to change, students with a strong promotion focus were expected to perceive digital media more positive, have higher media-related self-efficacy beliefs, and be more motivated to use digital media. Negative effects on these variables were expected for students with a strong prevention focus because of their preference for stability. As the situational change only occurs in tablet schools, these effects were expected to be stronger in tablet schools compared with control schools.
Students from 7th grade of the tabletBW initiative participated in the surveys consisting of self-report questionnaires. Data sets from 1337 students at the first (t0) and second measurement point (t1) were analyzed (667 females; M = 13.35 years at t0, SD = 0.55, Ncontrol = 683). Promotion focus (Cronbach’s α = .724) and prevention focus (Cronbach’s α = .729) were assessed by means of 6 items each on a 5-point scale ranging from (1) not at all to (5) very much (adapted from Sassenberg, Ellemers, & Scheepers, 2012). Students’ perception of digital media (10 items, Cronbach’s α = .657), their media-related self-efficacy beliefs (7 items, Cronbach’s α = .751) and their motivation for media use (7 items, Cronbach’s α = .773) were measured on 4-point scales ranging from (1) not at all to (4) very much (all adapted from Reiss, Sälzer, Schiepe-Tiska, Klieme, & Köller, 2016).
Multiple regression analyses were calculated separately to predict perception of digital media, media-related self-efficacy, and motivation for media use at t1. Promotion and prevention focus at t0 were tested as predictors, type of school (tablet vs. control) served as moderator. Furthermore, it was controlled for autoregressions of the respective dependent variable. For promotion focus there was a positive marginal main effect on perception of digital media (p = .072) and a positive significant main effect on motivation for media use (p < .01); however, the interactions with type of school as well as the main effect on media-related self-efficacy were not significant. For prevention focus there were no effects on perception of media use, but there were significant interactions with type of school for media-related self-efficacy (p < .01) and motivation for media use (p < .05). Prevention focus positively predicted media-related self-efficacy in control schools (p < .05); no effect was found in tablet schools. Furthermore, prevention focus negatively predicted motivation for media use in tablet schools (p < .01); no effect was found in control schools.
Regulatory focus theory seems to partly generalize to the student level in educational contexts. When implementing new technologies into classroom, students’ self-regulatory preference should be considered. However, more research is needed to investigate how support can be tailored to the students’ needs.
Mechanisms enhancing individual interest in tablet-based math-lessons
Within educational research, interest is seen as an important precondition for the use of learning opportunities (Kunter & Trautwein, 2013). Especially individual interest as dispositional motivational orientation has been suggested to be a central factor within learning processes (Schiefele & Schaffner, 2015). Consequently, it seems necessary to study enhancing mechanisms of individual interest when information and communication technology (ICT) redesigns learning processes and environments. However, the genesis of individual interest in ICT-based learning situations has rarely been studied. Recent literature focusses on the arrangement of learning situations by investigating the potential of specific applications to enhance academic achievement and interest (Cheung & Slavin, 2013; Lavonen, Byman, Juuti, Meislo, & Uitto, 2005). According to theories of interest development, there might be additional mechanism of interest promotion in classrooms, based on either personal characteristics or characteristics of the social environment (Hidi & Renninger, 2006). By taking different determinates of individual interest into consideration – students individual characteristics, the social environment and the learning arrangements with ICT – we investigate in this study the mechanisms of interest promotion in tablet-based math-lessons. Specifically, we consider classmates as part of the social environment and the specific use of tablet computers for different learning activities as the arrangement of the learning situation.
We used the longitudinal data obtained from the tabletBW project. Analyses are based on N = 474 students in 28 tablet classes, with one baseline measurement before tablets were implemented (t0) and one measurement implemented four months after the initiation of tablets into classrooms (t1). Individual interest in math-lessons was measured by adapted items relating to the respective situation - eather lessons were no tablet computers were used at t0 or lessons were tablets were used at t1 (adapted from Gaspard, Häfner, Parrisius, Trautwein & Nagengast, 2017). As individual characteristics we considered gender, age, math-grade and motivation to use ICT at t0, with the latter measured by seven items with a 4-point response format (adapted from Reiss, Sälzer, Schiepe-Tiska, Klieme & Köller, 2016). To investigate the influence of classmates, we calculated the class-average motivation to use ICT at t0 and the class-average individual interest in math-lessons at t0. To consider the learning arrangment in tablet use, we created two scales based on the Replacing, Amplifying and Transforming (RAT) Framework (Hughes, Thomas, & Scharber, 2006) that differentiate the target learning activities with the tablets by their potential to increase former traditional learning arrangements (traditional, enhancement). Preliminary analyses of multilevel regressions showed significant effects on individual interest in tablet-based math-lessons for all three mechanisms considered here. Regarding individual characteristics, we did not find any effects of age or math-grade at t0: however, being male influenced both the own motivation to use ICT and individual interest in traditional math-lessons positively. Those two factors in turn had a positive effect on individual interest in math-lessons with tablets. Additional analyses showed a peer group effect in the sense that the class-average motivation to use ICT at t0 affected individual interest in tablet-based math-lessons at t1 positively, whereas class-average interest in traditional math-lessons at t0 did not show any significant effect. Concerning the arrangement of learning situations, tablet applications that potentially increase former learning situations showed a positive effect on interest in tablet-based math-lessons. The results suggest considering different kinds of mechanism when studying interest promotion by ICT. In a next step, structural equation models will be applied in order to analyze those mechanisms in more detail.
Does one-to-one tablet used in the classroom have an impact on student learning processes?
The way teachers create learning opportunities in their classrooms strongly influences student learning (Seidel & Shavelson, 2007). In this vein, teachers are facing challenges to provide appropriate opportunities that elicit students’ learning processes such as situational interest (Renninger & Su, 2012) and cognitive engagement (Fredricks & McColskey, 2012). Digital media are regarded as helpful tool for teachers as they have substantial potentials to enhance such learning processes (Scheiter, 2017; Zhai, Zhang, & Li, 2018). However, previous studies revealed mixed findings on subject-specific learning outcomes when digital media are used in instruction (Murray & Olcese, 2011). Furthermore, in providing students with one-to-one mobile devices such as tablets, the way students are taught in classroom might significantly change. However, studies focusing on the change of learning opportunities through the use of digital media are scarce (Dumont & Istance, 2010); similarly, only few studies are available, in which the use and non-use of teschnology in a real classroom environment is compared (Cheung & Slavin, 2013). Therefore, it remains unclear whether student learning processes are influenced when extending traditional teaching environments with technology-based learning activities.
In the current study, we investigate the changes in students’ learning processes in two main subjects (Mathematics and German as language). Furthermore, we investigate whether changes are related to the frequency of using tablets as well as the learning activities targeted with the tablets. Data were obtained from students in the tabletBW project in tablet (N = 637) and control classes (N = 663). Before introducing tablets into instruction, the students answered a questionnaire targeting their subject-specific learning characteristics, including situational interest, cognitive engagement and willingness to invest effort (t0). After four months, all students answered the questionnaire again, and additionally, the tablet classes were asked to provide information about the frequency of tablet use and target learning activities (t1). In analyzing the data, multi-groups latent change models were specified by using the Mplus software. Data nesting was taken into account by calculating robust standard errors. Missing values were handled by full information maximum likelihood (FIML).
First results indicated that compared with control classes, using tablets in mathematics instruction significantly raised students’ situational interest (p < .05) and their willingness to invest effort (p < .001). Also, there was less decline over time in cognitive engagement in tablet compared with control classes (p < .05). However, in German lessons, using tablets had no significant impact on the changes in students’ learning in tablet classes compared to control classes. When focusing on tablet classes only, the average frequency of tablet use was fourteen times (ranging from 0 to 20 times, SD = 5.18) in Mathematics lessons. After controlling for students’ age and gender, the frequency of use had a significant effect on the increase of students’ situational interest (p < .001), willingness to invest effort (p < .01), as well as on the slighter decrease in their cognitive engagement. In German lessons, students worked with the tablets seven times (SD = 5.58). Although, there was no difference in the changes of learning processes between tablet and non-tablet classes, the analysis within tablet classes imply a positive effect of using frequency on students’ situational interest (p < .001), cognitive engagement (p < .001), and the willingness to invest effort (p < .001) also for German lessons. In this vein, the preliminary results suggest a positive effect on motivational aspects of learning as a function of introducing one-to one tablets in classrooms. Subsequent analyses will address whether the influence is related to the target learning activities (replacement vs. enhancement) as well as the time span tablets are used (short-term vs. long-term).