Application of Theory In Nursing Paper.
While an exact understanding of human motivation continues to evolve, some concepts have proven conducive to our understanding of motivation and the further advancement of motivational models and theories. One of these concepts is intrinsic motivation, which is often related to, and contrasted with, extrinsic motivation. This distinction does not refer to quantitative aspects, such as the amount or intensity of motivation people bring to a task, but
to different qualities or kinds of motivation related to why people engage in a certain task or behavior (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Application of Theory In Nursing Paper.
The differences relate to different motives,
reasons, attitudes, or goals that underlie
peoples’ behaviors and actions. On the one
hand, extrinsically motivated behaviors are
governed by the prospect of some instrumental gain or loss. Individuals who are
extrinsically motivated engage with tasks
because they expect that their engagement
will result in desirable outcomes, such as
monetary rewards, high grades, or praise,
or an avoidance of negative consequences, such as stress or pain. On the other hand,
individuals engage in intrinsically motivated
behaviors because they seem to be ends in
themselves rather than a means to a separate outcome (Cerasoli, Nicklin, & Ford,
2014; Sansone & Harackiewicz, 2000). Application of Theory In Nursing Paper.
Intrinsic motivation is based on the natural curiosity people possess (White, 1959)
and refers to doing something because it is inherently interesting or enjoyable (Deci & Ryan, 1985). For example, people may freely choose to engage in climbing or birding or regularly visit museums and exhibitions, thereby expressing their passion for sports, nature, art, and history. The positive energy associated with intrinsically motivated activities allows people to expand their knowledge, skills, and competencies related to this
motivation fairly effortlessly. Therefore, the concept is highly relevant for this volume, as it connects motivation and competence in a synergistic way.
Historically, intrinsic motivation emerged as a concept only fairly recently to explain
the motivation for activities and behaviors
for which the only rewards are perceptions
of interest or the experience of enjoyment
(Ryan & Deci, 2000). Intrinsic motivation
was therefore used to explain behaviors for
which previous frameworks, such as drive
theories or behaviorism, could not account.
Today, intrinsic motivation is still a versatile
and relevant concept that cuts across several theories of motivation and demands the
attention of educators striving to facilitate high- quality learning for their students and the development of their competence in sustainable ways. The experience of intrinsically motivated learning can be supported
in environments where people can freely
explore and pursue already existing interests, or have the opportunity to explore and
appreciate new activities and objects. As the- ory developed, several frameworks came to include concepts of intrinsic motivation. Self- determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985) argues that intrinsically motivated behaviors relate to the satisfaction of three innate basic
psychological needs for the experience of
competence, autonomy, and relatedness. For a high level of intrinsic motivation, people
must experience satisfaction of these needs
and act on their environment to ensure that
those needs are met. According to flow the-
ory (Csikszentmihalyi, 2013), people engage
in intrinsically motivating activities because they seek experiences that reflect complete
involvement with the activity, together with
the accompanying loss of awareness of time
and space. And according to interest theory (Hidi & Renninger, 2006; Krapp, 2002),
people engage in intrinsically motivated
behaviors because of personal preferences to
interact with a particular content (individual interest) or due to stimulating task characteristics that, on average, many people find
to be interesting (situational interest).
In this chapter, we focus on interest as
a prototypical intrinsic motivational con-
struct. “Interest” is conceptualized as a
content- specific, motivational variable that
can inform us about why individuals are
motivated to engage and to learn specific
subject matter (Hidi, 2000). Thus, calling
an individual interested or not interested
always requires a description of his or her
object of interest. Individuals can be interested in skydiving or in a particular academic
topic, but they cannot be generally interested
in the same way that they might be considered to be curious (Grossnickle, 2016), open
to experience (Goldberg, 1990), or as having
a growth mindset (Dweck, 2006). Theories
of academic interest have demonstrated the
usefulness of the concept first in terms of a
theoretical framework for conceptualizing intrinsic motivation and academic motivation, and second, as a framework for the
development of educational interventions to promote interest in particular topics, as well as applications to strengthen the relation between a person and an object (Mitch- ell, 1993; Renninger & Hidi, 2016). In this chapter, we first describe the fundamental concepts of interest theory, which offers a unique perspective on intrinsic motivation in terms of a dynamic person– object relationship that is consequential for how people learn and develop over time. Motivational theories of interest conceptualize
interest in terms of a state-like and a trait- like construct, with a developmental framework connecting the two (Krapp, Hidi, & Renninger, 1992). Interest theory not only provides a descriptive framework for how interest develops, but it also describes ways in which interest can be supported to develop in both a short-term and a sustainable long-term manner (Hidi & Renninger,2006; Renninger & Hidi, 2016). In the second part of the chapter we consider intervention research examining how to promote and sustain interest in educational contexts.
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THEORIES AND CONCEPTS
Interest as a State‑Like Construct
Ideally, there are many tasks and activities
in our daily lives that we pursue in a state
of interest. We may experience interest while
reading well- written books, while hav-
ing good conversations, and while tackling
intriguing challenges in our jobs. From an
interest theory perspective, being intrinsi-
cally motivated can be conceived as being
in a state of interest while doing something.
In this action- related sense, interest cap-
tures the desire to engage in activities in the
moment and refers to a temporary experience of interest while being engaged with a task (Krapp et al., 1992; Renninger & Hidi,
2016). This concept of state interest focuses on the experience of the present moment. It
acknowledges the fact that our level of interest is malleable and can change from one
moment to the next. In order to understand
these changes, researchers explore the complexity of momentary circumstances often
conceptualized as “situations.” Therefore,
researchers who investigate state interest are
typically looking at person- in- context experiences of interest and the changes that result from short-term engagement with the environment (Ainley, 2006).
According to interest research, the state of
interest combines positive affective qualities, such as feelings of enjoyment and curiosity,
with cognitive qualities of focused attention, as well as perceptions of value and per-
sonal importance (Hidi & Renninger, 2006;
Linnenbrink- Garcia et al., 2010). Thus,
being in a state of interest means that positive affective reactions and cognitive functioning are intertwined, which makes cognitive engagement and focusing of attention
feel relatively effortless. Thus, the state of
interest is an ideal state, and one to strive for
whenever possible. This is not only because
this state of being interested is typically
charged with positive feelings and engagement, but also because interest can energize
higher levels of performance. Dewey (1913)
characterized “interest” as an undivided
activity that combines the assessment of personal importance of the activity and positive emotional evaluations of the activity.
Accordingly, during interesting activities,
there is no conflict between what people
think is important for them and what they
like to do (Krapp, 2002). Research find-
ings reveal that when this state is activated, learning and attention feel more effortless
(Ainley, Hidi, & Berndorff, 2002; Hidi, 2006), that being in a state of interest is pos-
itively related to self- regulation and persis-
tence (Thoman, Smith, & Silvia, 2011; Tulis
& Fulmer, 2013), and that interest increases
task engagement (Ainley, 2006; Sansone &
Thoman, 2005), as well as the use of deep
learning strategies (Flowerday, Schraw, & Stevens, 2004).
Interest is a phenomenon that emerges
from individuals interacting with their environments (Krapp, 2002). The intrinsic quality of interest lies in the positive interaction between a person and a task, which finds its
expression in a state of interest and occurs
independently of extrinsic outcomes. The
intrinsic quality stems from stimulating task
characteristics (task- intrinsic motivation)
that facilitate an individual’s motivation to
engage in a task for its own sake (Deci &
Ryan, 1985; Hidi, 2000), as well as from personal dispositional preferences for the
task that the person brings to the situation
(person- intrinsic motivation). The study of
domain- specific intrinsic motivation there-
fore covers two broad types of interest: situational and individual interest. In the fol-
lowing section, we highlight situational and
individual interest as two different perspectives on the psychological state of interest.
The situational interest perspective views
state interest as an immediate consequence
of the contextual factors present in a situation. These factors or situational cues are
assumed to elicit situational interest across
individuals. As such, situational interest
emerges from the situation and is bound
to it. This volatile view of interest implies
that every situation has the power not only
to support but also to thwart peoples’ state
of interest. If situations fail to support peo-
ple’s interests, then individuals might lose
their interest immediately, even if they came
into the situation with some interest. Many
researchers have highlighted external influ-
ences or environmental triggers as prevail-
ing situational elements that influence states
of interest (Durik & Harackiewicz, 2007; Hidi & Harackiewicz, 2000). Features of
the environment that stimulate interest have
also been referred to as “collative variables”
(Berlyne, 1963, 1970) or “interestingness of
the context” (Krapp et al., 1992; Schunk,
Pintrich, & Meece, 2010). Empirically, this
has resulted in a substantial body of research
investigating content, activities, stimuli, or
environmental conditions assumed to generate or discourage interest (Bergin, 1999;
Cordova & Lepper, 1996). Various contex-
tual variables or task characteristics embedded in texts, classroom situations, and other
contexts have been identified as generating and promoting situational interest (Palmer,
2009; Renninger & Hidi, 2011); these may include factors such as novelty, complexity,
challenge, or task conditions that support
learners’ choice and autonomy, their feelings of competence, and social relatedness (Deci,
1992; Schraw & Lehman, 2001).
At the same time, interest theory offers an
individual interest perspective on the state of
interest. This perspective highlights the influence of individuals’ dispositions and stable
preferences for specific content as a reason for being in a state of interest in a particular
situation. Here, the immediate experience ofinterest taps into a well- developed personal preference to enjoy or cherish a particular
content or activity consistently across situations and contexts. Individual interest is
conceived as a latent disposition that can be
activated in the situation (Ainley, 2006; Ain-
ley & Hidi, 2002). Thus, some researchers
use the term actualized individual interest to signify that the experience of interest in some
situations is primarily elicited by a person’s
latent disposition rather than environmental
features (Krapp, 2002; Schraw & Lehmann,
2001). For example, a student may be partic-
ularly likely to be in a state of interest during
a class that is dealing with one of his or her
favorite topics. The individual interest per-
spective encourages researchers to consider
how people enter situations, as well as the
situational consistencies in momentary expe-
riences and behaviors. When people enter
situations with a high level of interest, for
example, they might be protected from los-
ing interest if the situation (without the pres-
ence of any other kind of support) matches
their interests (Linnenbrink- Garcia, Patall,
& Messersmith, 2012; Tsai, Kunter, Lütke,
Trautwein, & Ryan, 2008). For example, a
student who loves organic chemistry may
be able to get through a boring lecture on
the topic, whereas other students might lose
interest in the same situation. Similarly, other
stable personal characteristics can positively
influence interest during learning activities,
such as higher levels of prior knowledge
(Alexander & Jetton, 1996) or mastery goal
orientations (Harackiewicz, Barron, Carter,
Lehto, & Elliot, 1997; Harackiewicz, Durik,
Barron, Linnenbrink- Garcia, & Tauer,
2008; Hulleman, Durik, Schweigert, &
Harackiewicz, 2008; Tanaka & Murayama, 2014). This demonstrates that the experience
of interest can be influenced by person- level factors, and suggests that interest is not simply a product of situational circumstances.
So far, research has not provided any evidence for a phenomenological difference
between a state of interest that has its origins primarily in individual or dispositional
interest and a state of interest that stems from
stimulating situational conditions (Schiefele, 2009). To the individual, both states feel the
same, and there is no other way to experience interest other than being in a state of
interest. Current theory therefore assumes that there is only one kind of interest experience, or psychological state of interest, but
that this state can originate from two different sources and is therefore associated with
different mechanisms (individual vs. situational) (Hidi & Renninger, 2006). In other
words, situational interest and individual interest share the same psychological state (Renninger & Hidi, 2016). Thus, if the state
of being interested does not feel different as a function of its source, then questions about its origin are difficult to address empirically.
Findings have accumulated about person- related variables, situation- related variables, and their mutual relations that influence states of interest (e.g., Durik, Hulleman, &
Harackiewicz, 2015; Tanaka & Murayama,
2014; Tsai et al., 2008). Considered together,
these studies show that both internal, personal factors and external, environmental
factors can shape an individual’s experience
of interest in any given moment (Renninge & Hidi, 2011).
In a recent study (Knogler, Harackiewicz,
Gegenfurtner, & Lewalter, 2015), we used
a latent variable approach combined with
repeated measures design to disentangle
variance in individuals’ states of interest
that might be attributed to either individual
or situational sources. We asked students to
rate their interest several times in response
to different instructional situations related
to the same topic (e.g., inquiry, presentation
of results, discussion, and reflection). These
data were analyzed with latent state–trait
models that were used to parse out cross-
situational, stable variance in repeated measures from situation- specific variance (Geiser & Lockhart, 2012). Results indicated that
half of the variance was situation- specific and therefore related to particular instructional situations, whereas the other half was consistent or stable across situations. Thus,
even though students were dealing with the same topic across a series of lessons, the different instructional arrangements (i.e., the
“situations”) had a strong impact on students’ state interest. These findings therefore offer some indication that situation- specific variance might be truly situational.
Students’ initial individual interest in the topic, as measured before the instruction
began, was correlated with the stable cross- situational part of variance but unrelated to the situation- specific parts. Considered together, these findings offer empirical support that the situational interest perspective and the individual interest perspective are not mutually exclusive ways to look at states of interest. Rather, we found evidence for both types of interest across the learning situations. In line with Krapp’s (2002) argument that “any interest has a history,” there is often an actualizing mechanism at work that influences interest at any given moment, and over time stabilizes individuals’ states of interest. At the same time, there are motivational forces in each and every situation that influence individuals’ states of interest irrespective of their previous experiences with the content. Given the magnitude of effects found in this study, both perspectives need to be considered to explain and conceive of interest as a state phenomenon. Moreover, they also need to be considered as representing two different avenues for promoting interest during learning. Interventions can generally focus on harnessing the power of an already existing interest or on harnessing the power of situational cues that can induce situational interest (as discussed in later sections of this chapter).
Just like many other experiences, states of interest are embedded in a flowing stream of situations. And while situational and individual perspectives on these states can be separated conceptually, they are interdependent in the ongoing experience of learners.
In order to better understand the experience of interest, future research will have to consider theories and methods that examine the dynamic aspects of situations and situation change. In line with a renewed interest and increasing attention to the general study of situations (e.g., Rauthmann & Shermann, 2015), there are more and more forthcoming studies that treat interest as a state and situation- dependent phenomenon by applying repeated and in measurement (e.g., Ainley, 2006; Tanaka & Murayama, 2014). Using data- analytic procedures that allow the study of interest fluctuations at the within- person level, future research may provide an even richer description of the situational nature of interest.
Interest as a Trait‑Like Concept
An individual interest approach focuses on individuals’ enduring preferences for and a predisposition to reengage in particular activities or domains. Individual interest differs from other motivational concepts because it always refers to a particular person– object relation. In other words, one is always interested in something. The person– object theory of interest (Krapp, 2002) conceives of individual interest as an object- specific and trait-like variable that varies between persons but is relatively stable across time and across contexts. People differ in their interests, as some are more and some are less interested, for example, in sports, in climbing or birding, or in a particular research topic. If a person holds a particular individual interest, this is usually the outcome of a positive and long-term engagement with this content. Consider, for example, the case of researchers, who often have a long history of reading, writing, discussing, and experimenting with “personal research interests” over the course of months, years, and decades. Since such a deep and repeated engagement is required and longer periods of time are necessary, individuals usually possess a limited number of well- developed interests but always have the potential for more, as circumstances change (Hofer, 2010). Most of the time, but not always, people are reflectively aware of and identified with their individual interests, and are able specify them. Many researchers, for example, highlight their set of interests usually in “personal research interest
sections” or additionally in an “other interests or hobby sections” on their websites or curricula vitae (CVs). Such a reflective awareness puts learners in a position to pursue their interests actively by seeking out the best opportunities for further development (Renninger & Su, 2012).
Individual interests are stable, trait-like concepts that do not simply derive from repeated and long-term engagement but are also used to explain people’s choices and activities. If people have the opportunity to decide how to spend their time without any constraints, we would expect them to consistently choose activities related to their individual interests over other activities.
Elliot_HbkCmptncMtvtn2E.indb 338 11/22/2016 4:01:21 PM
18. Interest 339
several studies with college students (Har-
ackiewicz, Barron, Tauer, Carter, & Elliot,
2000; Harackiewicz, Barron, Tauer, &
Elliot, 2002; Harackiewicz et al., 2008), for
example, it was found that interest in psy-
chology, developed in introductory psychol-
ogy courses, predicted subsequent course
taking over several years, and students’
choice of academic major (i.e., whether
they majored in psychology or not). In this
sense, individual interest has the power to
consistently influence students’ behaviors,
their learning, as well as their momentary
motivational states. Individual interest may
also have a cyclic, self- affirming tendency:
Initial individual interest can strengthen
and deepen subsequent individual interest.
For example, individual interest can act as
a filter that directs attention toward some
subject content that is related to it but not to
other types of content. A bird- watcher might
travel to different countries and see unusual
birds, deepening his or her interest in birding
more generally. This increases the likelihood
of further engagement with that content,
which in turn further develops and deepens
that interest (Renninger, 2000). Entering
settings and contexts with initial individual
interest can predispose individuals to expe-
rience more interest during activities, which
can then promote the development of subse-
quent individual interest in terms of a deep-
ened connection between a person and some
topic or subject (Harackiewicz et al., 2008;
Linnenbrink- Garcia et al., 2012).
In terms of construct content, the robust
person– object relationship, which builds
the core of the individual interest concept,
has been operationalized in several different
ways. Here, we present the two most promi-
nent theoretical conceptions in the interest
literature: (1) interest as a two- component
construct that includes positive affect and
value and (2) interest as a two- component
construct that includes stored value and
accumulated knowledge. The first conceptu-
alization, offered by Schiefele (2001, 2009)
and Krapp (2002, 2005), identifies interest
as a rather stable set of value beliefs with
a close combination of affect- and value-
related components. In other words, persons
with a strong individual interest consis-
tently evaluate their interest object as both
enjoyable and exciting to interact with, and
personally significant and therefore as one
element of their stored value system. These
beliefs and evaluations not only coincide
but also are directly related to their inter-
est object and therefore intrinsic in nature.
According to Krapp (2002, 2005), affect-
and value- related components stem from a
dual regulation system, which assumes both
cognitive– rational and implicit– affective
control mechanisms to operate and mani-
fest in stable beliefs. Empirical studies con-
firmed that these two sets of beliefs tend to
be highly correlated and that their interac-
tion supports positive outcomes such as
self- regulation and performance (O’Keefe &
Linnenbrink- Garcia, 2014).
Although both components are critical,
the model allows individual interests to be
more strongly based on either affect- related
or value- related beliefs (Schiefele, 2009). For
example, Frenzel, Dicke, Pekrun, and Goetz
(2012) observed a qualitative temporal shift
from a more affect- based notion of interest
to a more value-based notion of interest dur-
ing adolescence. The shift occurred over the
course of five school years (grades 5–9) for
the students’ interest in mathematics. The
authors concluded that, “younger students
tend to predominantly associate positive
emotional experiences with the phenom-
enon of being interested, whereas older stu-
dents appear to become increasingly aware
that being interested also involves the desire
to learn more and autonomously choose to
reengage in the respective domain” (p. 1078).
The theoretical model is flexible and allows
for some differences in the configuration
of the construct content in terms of more
value- related and more affect- related inter-
ests, but this adds psychometric complexity.
However, these results suggest that it is criti-
cally important to examine the structure of
interest through a developmental lens.
The second conceptualization of individ-
ual interest was developed by Renninger and
Hidi (Hidi & Renninger, 2006; Renninger,
2000, 2009; Renninger & Hidi, 2016). Like
Krapp (2002, 2005) and Schiefele (2001,
2009), they conceive of individual interest
as a multifaceted construct. In their concep-
tion, however, individual interest combines
stored value and accumulated discourse
Elliot_HbkCmptncMtvtn2E.indb 339 11/22/2016 4:01:21 PM
340 III. RELEVANT PROCESSES
knowledge as major components. According
to this perspective, people with an individ-
ual interest have more stored value and more
knowledge accumulated for their domain
of interest than for other domains or activi-
ties in which they are involved. In particu-
lar, Renninger (2000, 2009) emphasized the
centrality of high levels of stored domain
knowledge as an important quality of indi-
vidual interest. The “knowledge” compo-
nent refers to a person’s developing under-
standing of the procedures and discourse
knowledge of particular activities or ideas.
The individual who is interested in climbing,
for example, develops climbing skills over
time and learns more about different places
to climb. This interest emerges in relation to
the kind of questioning a person undertakes
with respect to particular subject content.
The driving forces for knowledge accumula-
tion are so- called “curiosity questions” that
are rooted in already existing knowledge
and energize people to further explore con-
tent and learn about previously unknown
aspects of the domain. This in turn supports
the continued development of interest.
Considered together, these two conceptu-
alizations of individual interest highlight the
three critical components of positive affect,
stored value, and stored knowledge. All of
these components play an important role in
the development and maintenance of interest
(Hidi & Renninger, 2006) and might there-
fore be considered in the operationalization
of the construct. However, it is difficult to
include all three components psychometri-
cally because stored knowledge is not typi-
cally assessed with self- report measures. In
order to avoid complications associated
with integrating knowledge measures (see
Schiefele, 2009), an operationalization of
individual interest can include indicators of
content- specific, knowledge- seeking inten-
tions or behaviors that are concerned with
deepening knowledge and adding new ideas
to one’s repertoire (Knogler et al., 2015;
Krapp & Prenzel, 2011).
Interest Development: From Situation
From very early on, the idea that interest
develops, and can be helped to develop, was
as important as the positive consequences
that were thought to be associated with the
experience of interest (Dewey, 1913). Since
then, theorists have frequently stressed that
interest is a variable with a strong devel-
opmental character (e.g., Krapp, 2002;
Renninger & Hidi, 2016). Indeed, interest
development has become the major focus of
current interest research (Renninger & Su,
2012). Models of interest development typi-
cally take a positive view on development
and describe both the possibilities of people
forming new interests and the process of how
an interest grows and deepens over time as a
result of ongoing engagement with particu-
lar content. At the same time, theorists con-
sider the case that, as frequently observed in
everyday life, interest development can come
to a halt, or that a particular interest might
regress or fall off without adequate support
(Hidi & Renninger, 2006).
As with any relational variable, the devel-
opmental trajectory becomes a question
about the extent to which the characteris-
tics of the learning environment fit with the
characteristics of the learner (Renninger &
Su, 2012). This is true throughout the devel-
opmental continuum. Therefore, research
on interest development addresses questions
about internal and external factors, as well
as how their interaction affects the develop-
ment and deepening of interest. On the one
hand, individuals’ characteristics and their
particular strengths and needs have been
identified as important determinants for
interest development. Demographic vari-
ables such as age (Frenzel et al., 2012), gender
(Häussler & Hoffmann, 2000; Gilmartin,
Li, & Aschbacher, 2006), and socioeco-
nomic status (Aschbacher, Li, & Roth, 2010;
Harackiewicz, Canning, et al., 2014) have
been shown to influence interest develop-
ment, as well as psychological variables such
as prior interest (Durik & Harackiewicz,
2007; Harackiewicz et al., 2008), prior
knowledge (Alexander & Jetton, 1996) and
self- concept (Durik, Schechter, Noh, Rozek,
& Harackiewicz, 2015; Marsh, Trautwein,
Lüdtke, Köller, & Baumert, 2005). On the
other hand, it has been shown that, regard-
less of how well developed a person’s interest
may be and however independent learners
have become, the interest experience is not
exclusively self- sustained, but requires an
appropriate environment that supports or at
Elliot_HbkCmptncMtvtn2E.indb 340 11/22/2016 4:01:21 PM
18. Interest 341
least allows people to pursue their interests
(Renninger & Hidi, 2011).
According to Krapp and colleagues
(1992), the process of interest development
starts with situational interest and a single,
situation- specific person– object relationship
(e.g., hearing about supernovas for the first
time). When people move further in their
development of interest, this situational
frame is blurred, and over time, this connec-
tion gains stability and strength, such that
dispositional individual interest refers to a
person– object relationship with a high level
of stability across situations and contexts
(e.g., strong interest in astronomy) (Ren-
ninger, 2009). Coinciding with changes in
stability, the development from situational
interest to dispositional individual inter-
est is also marked by an underlying shift in
the locus of control. Whereas a situational
interest is primarily caused by factors exter-
nal to the individual (e.g., a TV show about
supernovas), individual interest stems from
internal factors. Thus, interest develop-
ment refers to two fundamental processes:
a strengthening of the tendency to reengage
content and an increase in the independence
from external support.
Hidi and Renninger (2006) have framed
this process of a continually evolving
person– object relationship in terms of four
distinct and sequential phases. In order for
interest to develop, it first needs to be elic-
ited by external factors in a given situation.
This first phase is referred to as triggered
situational interest. If tasks and content
are perceived to be meaningful and involv-
ing, interest development may enter its sec-
ond phase of maintained situational inter-
est. If maintained interest endures beyond
the particular situation and is associated
with the accumulation of knowledge, it may
develop into emerging individual interest
and thereby enter its third phase (Harack-
iewicz et al., 2008). Given that knowledge
and stored value increase further, learners
may eventually enter the fourth phase of
well- developed individual interest. Hidi and
Renninger argued that with this develop-
ment comes a qualitative change from what
may be considered primarily an emotion at
the initial triggering of situational interest
to a greater emphasis on cognitive compo-
nents in later phases. Moreover, as interest
deepens across these four phases, individu-
als develop an increasing metacognitive
awareness of their own interest (Renninger
& Hidi, 2016).
A main contention of the four-phase
model of interest development is that inter-
est development is sequential, and that this
sequence can be disrupted at any time. This
also implies that interest development can
go dormant. Whether development contin-
ues will depend on not only the person but
also on the possibilities and opportunities
provided by the environment. Interests that
are piqued by situational factors but not sup-
ported in subsequent situations may become
dormant, and interests can be abandoned at
any stage of development if situations do not
afford support and continued stimulation.
In the following section, we highlight recent
research that examines how interest can be
promoted in educational contexts.
IN EDUCATIONAL CONTEXTS
Educators and policymakers have called
on motivational researchers to align the
agenda of advancing motivational theo-
ries with use of research to make a differ-
ence in educational contexts (Harackiewicz,
Smith, & Priniski, 2016; Kaplan, Katz, &
Flum, 2012; Pintrich, 2003; Turner, 2010).
To promote this aim, researchers suggested
amplifying efforts to investigate motivation
in ecological contexts, as well as develop-
ing and testing interventions as a means to
address critical challenges in student moti-
vation (Harackiewicz, Tibbetts, Canning,
& Hyde, 2014; Tibbetts, Harackiewicz,
Priniski, & Canning, 2016; Walton, 2014).
The major challenge related to interest and
intrinsic motivation pertains to the ques-
tion of how best to support individuals in
developing and solidifying their interests in
certain areas, as well as how to help learners
to become interested and identify with criti-
cal subject content, so that they can harness
all the potential benefits of interest as they
confront challenging courses.
Interest as an energizer of task- related
behavior is relevant in almost every teaching
and learning context (Schunk et al., 2010)
because students become more engaged
Elliot_HbkCmptncMtvtn2E.indb 341 11/22/2016 4:01:21 PM
342 III. RELEVANT PROCESSES
and learn more when they are interested in
the topic. Yet research may be particularly
needed in academic domains that many stu-
dents do not find interesting or in which
they typically lose interest as they progress
through formal education. For example,
there is considerable evidence document-
ing a decline of students’ academic inter-
est in middle school and high school, par-
ticularly in science education and science,
technology, engineering, and math (STEM)
subjects (e.g., Eccles et al., 1993; Krapp
& Prenzel, 2011; Renninger, Nieswandt,
& Hidi, 2015). Theorists have highlighted
general developmental trends, such as age-
related changes, as explanations for this
decline, especially during the transitions
from primary to secondary levels of educa-
tion. Moreover, concerns have been voiced
about the way that science, technology, and
mathematics are taught in school (Tröbst,
Kleickmann, Lange- Schubert, Rothkopf,
& Möller, 2016). Instructional practices
often seem to fail to actively engage students
(Seidel & Prenzel, 2006). Most critically,
there seems to be a large gap between what
schools offer and what students value, pre-
fer, and are interested in (Brophy, 2008; Pot-
vin & Hasni, 2014). Thus, there is a great
potential for changes in instructional prac-
tices based on insights from interest research
to help counteract these downward trends.
In the following sections we consider
three general avenues for intervention, all
of which are guided by interest theory and
target motivational processes and, in turn,
educational outcomes. As highlighted ear-
lier, effective support for interest develop-
ment may also depend on a learner’s phase
of interest and variability in other learner
characteristics. From an interest theory per-
spective that emphasizes the match between
personal preferences and opportunities pro-
vided by the environment, we suggest two
general and complementary avenues for
intervention (see also Pintrich, 2003):
1. Build on existing individual interest: Pro-
vide content material and tasks designed
to facilitate the connection of academic
content to be learned with already exist-
2. Generate situational interest: Pro-
vide stimulating tasks, activities, and
materials that use universal structural
features (i.e., problems, challenges) in
order to trigger and maintain situational
interest for all students.
Build on Existing Individual Interest:
The individual interest approach to cultivat-
ing interest emphasizes students’ individual
preferences as a basis for frequent reen-
gagement. To cultivate the development of
interest, this approach promotes building
on individual learner characteristics, espe-
cially the current interests of the student
population. Researchers seek to capital-
ize on the active role of individual interest
in the coregulation of person- in- context
experiences of interest by increasing the fit
between content and learners’ individual
interests. Of course, efforts in this direction
would not seem worthwhile or even neces-
sary if curricula and the content of lessons
were already largely aligned with students’
interests. However, it has frequently been
pointed out that a core problem with today’s
schools and curricula is that academic con-
tent is not often a good fit with students’
individual interests (Baram- Tsabari, 2015;
Baumert & Köller, 1998; Harackiewicz et
al., 2016). Indeed, many students pursue
their most cherished individual interests out-
side of school (Bergin, 1999; Hofer, 2010).
To build learning environments around
existing interests could represent an easy
fix for educators, as connections to content
do not have to be created from scratch, and
the positive effects of individual interest
on motivation and performance have been
amply demonstrated (Renninger & Hidi,
2011). However, this approach may not
be practical for instructors of large classes
given the unpredictability and heterogene-
ity of individual interests among diverse
students. Indeed, researchers and practitio-
ners alike have noted that it seems rather
challenging and time consuming to cater
simultaneously to the personal interests of
a heterogeneous group of students (e.g., in
a classroom), if students differ significantly
in terms of their interests and motivational
characteristics for various school tasks
(Harackiewicz et al., 2016; Hidi, 2000).
Furthermore, curricula are standardized
Elliot_HbkCmptncMtvtn2E.indb 342 11/22/2016 4:01:21 PM
18. Interest 343
and formally restricted, and often provide
narrow guidelines regarding content to be
studied, which might not support adapta-
tion to students’ interests.
However, thanks to the recent shift from
input- to output- d riven education, which now
provides competence- based learning goals
instead of precise content for input, teachers
are granted more flexibility as to what spe-
cific content to choose for competence- based
instruction (Organization for Economic Co-
operation and Development [OECD], 2007).
For example, in current science curricula,
the competence of creating a scientifically
sound argument is most relevant (Osborne,
2010). Such a competence- based goal, how-
ever, does not overly determine particular
content. Thus, teachers are free to choose
science topics and instructional strategies
that can be more aligned with students’
interests and their everyday life. Moreover,
this increasing flexibility also comes at a
time when advanced technology systems and
learning technologies can provide feasible
and scalable solutions for tailoring instruc-
tion to learners’ needs and interests (Collins
& Halverson, 2009). Application of Theory In Nursing Paper.
A possible way to facilitate connections
between learners and content that is based
on individual interest is use of adaptive
approaches to instruction such as context
personalization. The practice of context
personalization refers to matching instruc-
tional tasks or educational content with
characters, objects, and themes of students’
out-of- school interests (Cordova & Lep-
per, 1996; Høgheim & Reber, 2015; Walk-
ington & Bernacki, 2014). For example,
in a physics class, a learner interested in
extreme sports might be given a task that
involves parachutes and skydiving to learn
about the concept of gravity and air resis-
tance (see Palmer, 2009). The same learner
could be given reading assignments based
on texts related to extreme sports in Eng-
lish or foreign language classes to extend
his or her vocabulary and practice commu-
nication skills. Thus, even though there are
content constraints about what students are
expected to learn, there is flexibility in terms
of the choice of context in which this content
is embedded. Choosing contexts that relates
to students’ interests connects new content
and tasks to learner’s preexisting individual
interests. The positive effects associated with
individual interest for learning are hypoth-
esized to transfer onto new content and to
foster learners’ experience of interest and, in
turn, performance. Application of Theory In Nursing Paper.
Evidence from experimental research sug-
gests that context personalization strategies
are effective in fostering interest, effort,
and performance. In an earlier study (Cor-
dova & Lepper, 1996) with elementary stu-
dents, individualized information related
to students’ backgrounds and interests was
inserted in a computer game using arithmetic. Compared to students in nonpersonalized conditions, this led to higher gains in
students’ intrinsic motivation, involvement,
and learning. A recent review of studies on context personalization (see Walkington
& Bernacki, 2014) confirmed these early findings. Studies in middle and high school
mathematics indicated that learners adopt
more positive attitudes toward personalized rather than generic material. Students
displayed more effort and continued to perform better on personalized tasks compared to a control group, even after personalization had been removed (Walkington, 2013).
These positive effects were most pronounced in students struggling with mathematics (Walkington, 2013) and among learners
with low individual interest (Høgheim &
Reber, 2015; Renninger, Ewen, & Lasher,
2002). In line with Durik and Harackiewicz
(2007), these studies suggest that context personalization interventions could be particularly useful in supporting less engaged learners who begin a task with lower levels of
interest. Application of Theory In Nursing Paper.Studies also suggested that the provision of task choice could further enhance
these positive effects, possibly through further increasing the match between learners’
interests and their interest- related choices in the learning environment (Cordova & Lep- per, 1996; Høgheim & Reber, 2015; Palmer, 2009; Patall, 2013).
Theoretical mechanisms used to explain these findings are anchored in interest theory. In line with other findings that indicate individual interest in academic content can act as a resource for learning (e.g., Knogler et al., 2015; Tsai et al., 2008), the success of these context manipulations is attributed to the potential of learners’ individual interest to influence momentary instructional experiences and, in turn, learning outcomes.
More specifically, context personalization can support learner motivation, as well
as further knowledge acquisition through
mechanisms that build on positive affect,
perceived value, and accumulated knowl-
edge as the three core components of indi-
vidual interest. First, tasks and material that
connect to a learner’s individual interest
are more likely to elicit an immediate posi-
tive affective reaction, which may or may
not translate into more maintained states of
interest. Second, existing amounts of stored
value can enhance perceptions of value for
the task, which have been shown both to
trigger and maintain student’s interest (Hul- leman, Godes, Hendricks & Harackiewicz, 2010). Third, learners interested in a subject
area such as extreme sports or astronomy
are likely to have accumulated some prior
knowledge that can act as a catalyst for further knowledge development in this content
domain. In conclusion, all three of these
mechanisms operating in tandem may prove
to be a powerful combination to ground new
content effectively in existing affective and
cognitive structures, so that they become
easier to identify with and to grasp. As only
a few studies have addressed these issues
so far, the field of context personalization
awaits further research that also considers different kinds of interventions.
To provide better orientation and to foster
systematic research in this area, Walkington and Bernacki (2014) have recently classified context personalization interventions along three dimensions: depth, grain size,
and ownership. Depth refers to the quality of the connections to learners’ existing interests established by the intervention.
ORDER A CUSTOM-WRITTEN PAPER HERE
Here, interventions range from simple insertions of surface- level information about students’ interests (e.g., one’s favorite movie) to very elaborate contextualized tasks that are deeply embedded in students’ interests. Application of Theory In Nursing Paper.
Grain size refers to the size of the reference group and differentiates between tasks
that are tailored to the interest of an individual learner or to certain groups of learners, such as a particular school class or a
certain age group. Ownership addresses
the fact that different people can personalize context and therefore own the process.
Although personalization might typically
be considered to be the territory of teachers
and curriculum designers, learners have also
been successfully encouraged to personalize context for themselves by reflecting on
content and its relevance to their own lives (Harackiewicz, Canning, Tibbetts, Priniski,
& Hyde, 2016; Hulleman & Harackiewicz,
2009; Hulleman et al., 2010; Yeager et al., 2014). Moreover, research suggests that the self- generation of value statements is more
powerful than learning about value connections from other individuals (Canning &
Harackiewicz, 2015), supporting the ownership idea. We discuss these utility– value
Further research on personalization strategies will need to clarify which combinations of these criteria make the most effective interventions that harness the potential of personalization in fostering important
learning outcomes. The easy access to modern computer technology, such as intelligent
tutoring systems, offers many, perfectly scalable ways both to assess students’ individual
interests and sophisticated methodologies
for personalizing instruction. Thus, digital
technology significantly lowers the implementation threshold for effectively personalizing interventions, and this can support them in becoming a standard feature of interest- based STEM education.
Generating Situational Interest
Keeping students interested in their courses
is crucial to their academic success. One
way to develop interest in activities is to
help students find meaning and value in
those activities (Harackiewicz & Hulleman, 2010; Harackiewicz et al., 2016), and one
type of task value that has proven to be a powerful predictor of interest, effort, and
performance is utility value. People find utility value in a task if they believe it is useful
and relevant beyond the immediate situation, for other tasks or aspects of their life
(e.g., “This material will be important when
I shop for healthy food”). Recent experimental research indicates that it is possible
to promote perceived utility value with simple interventions that ask students to write
about the relevance of course topics to their own lives or to the life of a family member or close friend.
The utility- value intervention (UVI) is based in expectancy– value and interest theory. According to Eccles’s expectancy value theory, a person chooses to take on
a challenging task—such as persisting in a
college biology course or choosing to major in biology— if the person (1) values the task,
and (2) expects that he or she can succeed
at the task (based on self- beliefs). Beliefs
about the self and beliefs about the value of
the task are both critically important in pre- dicting interest, course choices, persistence,
and choice of a major. In Eccles’s model,
task value has several components, including intrinsic value (the enjoyment an individual experiences from performing a task),
attainment value (the personal importance of doing well on a task), and utility value (how useful or relevant the task is in terms of
the individual’s future plans). Intrinsic value
is, of course, closely aligned with situational
interest, and there are many interesting over-
laps between expectancy– value and interest
theories. The UVI focuses on utility value,
however, because it is the task value most
amenable to external influence and intervention (Harackiewicz & Hulleman, 2010). In
other words, educators may be able to influence students’ perceptions of utility value
(UV) with simple interventions, and these perceptions of utility may in turn promote interest development.
Extensive experimental and longitudinal
survey studies have documented the importance of both expectancy (e.g., confidence)
and value- related beliefs (perceptions of usefulness and personal relevance). The perceived value of any academic course is influenced by how closely it relates to the student’s identity and both short- and long- term goals (Eccles, 2009). When a student says, “I can do science, but I don’t want to,” such a choice likely reflects a relatively low perceived value of science. When students
do perceive value in course topics, however,
they develop greater interest in the course,
work harder, perform better, persist longer, and are more likely to take additional
courses and complete their degree programs (Harackiewicz et al., 2008; Hulleman et al.,
2008; Wigfield, 1994). Educators can influence students’ perceptions of UV in science
courses using writing activities focused on
course content. The UVI works by changing
how students think about academic topics.
On their own and in their own terms, students generate connections between course
topics and their lives— helping them appreciate the value of their coursework and promoting a deeper level of engagement. Thus,
the externally administered UVI may help students relate course material to their own
interests. As such, the UVI represents a combination of the two approaches to promoting interest: It may spark situational interest in a topic, and it may help students connect that topic to their own interests, which can build on individual interest. Application of Theory In Nursing Paper.
Laboratory studies have demonstrated
that self- generated UV information (as produced by the UVI) is much more powerful
than externally provided UV information (e.g., as might be produced when teachers tell students that material is important and
relevant) in promoting interest and performance (Canning & Harackiewicz, 2015;
Durik et al., 2015). The key is having students actively work to find the value for
themselves. The efficacy of this approach for
promoting perceived UV, interest, and performance has been demonstrated in ninth-
grade science and undergraduate introductory psychology, with the strongest benefits
for students with low confidence or lower levels of performance (Hulleman & Harack- iewicz, 2009; Hulleman et al., 2010). More recently, Harackiewicz, Canning, Tibbetts,
Priniski, and Hyde (2016) documented the potential of the UVI to close achievement
gaps for first- generation and underrepresented minority students in college biology
courses. In addition, Harackiewicz, Rozek, Hulleman, and Hyde (2012) found that a
UVI that targeted the parents of high school students led the students to take, on average,
an extra semester of math or science in their last 2 years of high school.
According to interest theory, being interested in an activity motivates us to pursue
activities and careers. Interest may be triggered by UVIs, then develop further as the
individual experiences positive feelings and
comes to value an activity. By integrating expectancy– value and interest theories,
we propose two ways that UV can influence interest, motivation, and persistence in academic contexts. First, perceiving UV in a course can directly influence interest and subsequent course enrollment choices
because of the importance of these courses
for future goals. Second, perceiving UV in courses can influence subsequent course choices and career decisions through the process of interest development; that is, perceiving value in courses can promote deeper interest in the topic, and interest may be the more proximal motivator of career decisions.
Thus, interest may be a pathway through which UVIs influence motivation and performance (Harackiewicz et al., 2016).
A situational approach to cultivating inter-
est views interest as a situated and mallea-
ble construct that offers a great potential
for change and influence in features of the
environment. In educational settings, this
view highlights the importance of creat-
ing a stimulating learning environment in
which students are supported in connecting
to content, especially when the content is
not related to their preferences and existing
interests. The situational approach acknowl-
edges that educators do not have influence
over students’ incoming individual interest,
yet they do have influence over students’
situational interest as a short-term response
to the learning environment they create, for
example, during a particular lesson. Fur-
thermore, if continued situational support
is provided, initial situational interest may
develop beyond situational confines and
support long-term interest development in a
domain (Chen et al., 2016).
Situational interest and its antecedents
have been extensively studied in the context
of text comprehension, which has demon-
strated, among other things, that readers
are interested in texts that include surpris-
ing, novel, or unusual elements and text features such as personal relevance, coherence,
and vividness (Ainley et al., 2002; Schraw
& Lehmann, 2001). Following Mitchell’s
(1993) seminal study in the mathematics
classroom, the focus of this research has
broadened recently, and more studies are
forthcoming that analyze activities and tasks
that generate interest in any learning environment for many individuals (see Renninger &
Hidi, 2011, for a review). Researchers have
investigated various instructional practices
and their potential role in fostering inter-
est. For the context of STEM education, a
recent review (Potvin & Hasni, 2014) identified problem- and inquiry- based approaches
to instruction as very effective in fostering
interest and learning. Using interest theory
as a framework for modeling motivational
dynamics, researchers have used problem-
based learning environments to analyze
the promotion and maintenance of interest (Belland, Kim, & Hannafin, 2013; Palmer,
2009; Rotgans & Schmidt, 2011, 2014; Schmidt, Rotgans, & Yew, 2011; Wijnia,
Loyens, & Derous, 2011; Wijnia, Loyens, Derous, & Schmidt, 2014).
Problem- based learning has been defined as “an instructional method that initiates
students’ learning by creating a need to
solve an authentic problem” (Hung, Jonassen, & Liu, 2007, p. 486). From an interest
theory perspective, problems are a means
to stimulate curiosity questions that in later
phases of interest development are activated
from within the person and represent a core
mechanism for extending and solidifying
his or her interests (Renninger & Su, 2012).
Compared to the previously discussed individual interest approach, which taps into
individual interest and an associated fund of
knowledge as a resource, a problem- based
approach signals to learners that they lack
some critical knowledge. This can be an
effective trigger for situational interest and
stimulate initial engagement with a certain
task or domain (Berlyne, 1970; Rotgans &
Schmidt, 2014). Since there is no immediate answer for many problems, learners are
required to figure out what is unknown to
them or to reorganize what they have under-
stood to date. In this sense, situational inter-
est can play an important role in energizing
the acquisition of knowledge (Rotgans & Schmidt, 2011).
Recently, Rotgans and Schmidt (2014)
suggested that learning materials are effective at eliciting situational interest in all
learners when they confront learners with an
intriguing problem. In several studies, they
used history problems and asked secondary
students from Singapore why the Japanese
were able to conquer the island during the
World War II, despite the fact that they were highly outnumbered by the Allied Forces.
This problem initially triggered students’
situational interest, and their mean levels of
interest were significantly higher after problem presentation than before. Students were
then provided reading material that contained relevant information to resolve the
problem. After reading the text, students’ situational interest decreased again. This pat-
tern was only found if students did not know
the solution beforehand and if they were
aware of their deficit. Application of Theory In Nursing Paper.Rotgans and Schmidt
explained their results with a knowledge
deprivation mechanism that construes situational interest as arising from a perceived
gap between what students know and what
they need or want to know (Schmidt et al.,2011). Initially, problems can create this
gap and in turn stimulate situational inter-
est. Subsequently, as students gain relevant
knowledge while working to solve the problem, they close the gap, which again reduces
their levels of situational interest (Rotgans & Schmidt, 2011, 2014). According to this research, problem- based learning environments appear to be a reliable way to generate
situational interest with the presentation of challenging problems. However, the findings also suggest that problems may be a rather temporary stimulus, not necessarily leading to repeated engagement, as students’ interest steadily decreases once they start working on and solving the problem. Moreover, these findings may not generalize across all types of problems.
In previous research on problem- based learning, learning outcomes also depended on the type of problem used. In their meta-analysis, Walker and Leary (2009) found complex and ill- structured problems to be more effective with regard to student learning than well- structured problems.
As Rotgans and Schmidt had focused their
investigations on problems belonging to the
latter category (Jonassen, 2011), Knogler, Gröschner, and Lewalter (2016) tested a
complex problem and its capacity to foster
students’ situational interest. In line with
the knowledge deprivation hypothesis, they assumed complex problems to be more effective in stimulating situational interest. They argued that even though learners may gain relevant knowledge while investigating a
complex problem (e.g., climate change), the
problem cannot be solved as straightforwardly as simple problems; instead, complex
problems are evolving in nature and gradually reveal additional layers of complexity.
These create newly emerging knowledge
gaps as learners acquire a deeper under-
standing while they continue to investigate
und develop solutions (Jonassen, 2011). Application of Theory In Nursing Paper.
In their study, Knogler and colleagues (2016) presented to secondary students a problem scenario in which they had to negotiate a solution for the energy supply of a rural district that wanted to shift from nuclear power to renewable sources. The students were then engaged in collaborative problem solving over the course of 15 lessons, exploring and discussing different solutions and their limitations. Repeated measures of situational interest indicated a developmental pattern whereby situational interest was stimulated not just once but repeatedly.
In post interviews, students frequently referred to the experience of novelty and the ability to expand their knowledge in the face of novel information as subjective cause for higher levels of situational interest during
complex problem solving (see also Palmer, 2009). This confirmed the assumption that a more complex problem structure holds more potential for the continuing perception of knowledge gaps or opportunities to learn compared to well- structured problems with a single gap. In addition to knowledge- based mechanisms, rich and complex problem- based learning environments also feature a rich array of other contextual stimuli, such as perceived autonomy or social relatedness supportive of situational interest (Krapp,2005). Thus, problem- based learning environments may be particularly well suited to support situational interest as they offer challenging problems and an engaging set of learning activities. Additional research can help to further unleash this potential and identify effective problem structures or scaffolding strategies that optimally support learners in confronting these problems (Belland et al., 2013).
This line of research is relevant for STEM education because science offers many intriguing and complex problems. To leverage their potential for a more interest- based STEM education, teachers and curriculum designers would need to create more learning environments based on problems. Such an effort would also be in line with recent reforms that promote inquiry- based teaching and problem- based learning together with crosscutting themes and core ideas for science education.
A careful consideration of the nature of interest, whether conceptualized as an individual- difference variable, a situational process, a developmental trajectory, an educational outcome, or, as we have argued
here, all of these combined, affords insight into important motivational processes. The theoretical and empirical progress to date has yielded several promising directions for intervention in educational contexts. By analyzing the malleable and more stable aspects
of interest, we can design interventions that spark the development of new interests or support the further development of existing interests that can shape students’ academic
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