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■ Math Interest

■ Math Importance

Figure 14.5 Developmental changes in girls' and boys' ratings of math interest and importance.

■ Math Interest

■ Math Importance

Figure 14.5 Developmental changes in girls' and boys' ratings of math interest and importance.

of the components of achievement values are most dominant. Wigfield and Eccles (1992) suggested that interest may be especially salient during the early elementary school grades. If so, then young children's choices of different activities may be most directly related to their interests. And if young children's interests shift as rapidly as their attention spans, it is likely that they will try many different activities for a short time each before developing a more stable opinion regarding which activities they enjoy the most. As children get older the perceived utility and personal importance of different tasks likely become more salient, particularly as they develop more stable self-schema and long range goals and plans. These developmental patterns have yet to be assessed empirically.

A related developmental question is how children's developing competence beliefs relate to their developing subjective task values? According to both the Eccles et al. model and Bandura's self-efficacy theory, ability self-concepts should influence the development of task values. In support of this prediction, Mac Iver, Stipek, and Daniels (1991) found that changes in junior high school students' competence beliefs over a semester predicted changes in children's interest much more strongly than vice versa. Does the same causal ordering occur in younger children? Recall that Bandura (1994) argued that interests emerge out of one's sense of self-efficacy and that children should be more interested in challenging than in easy tasks. Taking a more developmental perspective, Wigfield (1994)

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