33). Investigations conducted by Wheelok, Bebell, and Haney (2000) provide overwhelming proof that students derive very little, if any, benefit from high-stakes testing.
Indeed, examining the self-portraits of students engaged in high-stakes testing show them to experience their environment in a way that makes them "anxious, angry, bored, pessimistic, and withdrawn" from the processes of learning and testing. Although almost nothing was positive in these assessments, older students were more pessimistic than younger students about the testing process as a tool for learning.
The main interpretation from this could be that cognitive development is smothered by high-stakes testing, resulting in the negative emotions associated with the experience, as mentioned above. Younger students are less aware of the infringement of their cognitive development, while older students are more likely to require cognitively stimulating activities to thrive in the classroom situation.
Attribution Theory (Weiner, 1992) has several implications for academic motivation. Behavior modification is incorporated in terms of pleasant outcomes. Behind this focus is the ideal that learners are motivated by pleasant outcomes and being able to feel good about themselves. The theory is an incorporation of cognitive theory and self-efficacy theory, as a learner's self-perception is incorporated in his or her interpretations of success or failure. This in turn influences the motivation to perform similar actions in the future.
Attribution theory is also dependent upon explanations that people provide for success, failure, or behavioral issues. There are three sets of characteristics by means of which success or failure can be explained, according to the theory:
1. The cause of success or failure can be either internal or external. In other words, our success or failure is dependent either on what we believe internally or by factors in our external environment, such as the support or lack thereof provided by the teacher.
2. The second cause of success or failure can be said to be stable or unstable. A stable cause remains the same for future efforts. The same action can then be performed again to obtain success again. An unstable cause is unlikely to repeat for future efforts, with a different outcome likely to emerge from the same effort.
3. The cause of success or failure could be controllable or uncontrollable. Controllable factors can be altered. Hence, if failure occurred as a result of one of these factors, the student can change it towards better outcomes in the future. An uncontrollable factor is one that is perceived not to be easily changed.
An important factor within the attribution theory is that individuals' interpretations will generally focus on maintaining a positive self-image. In this light, success or failure will be attributed to factors that place them in as good a light as possible for the continued promotion of a favorable self-image.
Achievement Goal Theory
Achievement goal theory is based upon the "goal-as-motives' theory (McGrew, 2008). This theory holds that actions are based upon the perception of their desired outcomes, or goals. In the classroom situation, this means that teachers can influence the reasons why learners learn, and by association their motivation to learn. In this way, the theory focuses on the role that the concept of purpose plays in the attitudes and behavior of students.
Academic goal orientation is a related concept that defines an individual's beliefs, based on the reasons why they approach and engage in academic tasks in a certain way.
Goals can focus on ego-involved goals, which rely on performance. Students are motivated by attempting to outperform each other, or by performing according to certain criteria. Task-involved goals, on the other hand, focus on learning goals, where the performance of a task will result in a new skill or knowledge.
Students can be either performance or learning goal oriented. A performance goal orientation means that students are primarily concerned with personal ability, comparing themselves with others to reach the goal of what they perceive as personal excellence in comparison with their peers.
When a student is learning goal oriented, the focus is on the learning task itself. Students are concerned with task completion and new skills or knowledge that they can learn. Understanding, learning, mastery, and solving problems are the main concern here, rather than any sense of comparison with peers. This type of goal…