Motivation and contemporary socio-constructivist instructional perspectives

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    Motivation and contemporary socio-constructivistinstructional perspectivesDaniel T. HickeyPublished online: 08 Jun 2010.

    To cite this article: Daniel T. Hickey (1997) Motivation and contemporary socio-constructivist instructional perspectives,Educational Psychologist, 32:3, 175-193, DOI: 10.1207/s15326985ep3203_3

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  • EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST, 32(3), 175-193 Copyright Q 1997, Lawrence Erlbaurn Associates, Inc.

    Motivatj on and Contemporary Socio-Cons tructivist Instructional Perspectives

    Daniel T. Hickey Vanderbilt University

    The perspective generally referred to as socio-constructivism is prominent in contemporary educational reform efforts. This article argues for expanded study of the motivational issues

    etween presented by new curricular approaches that follow from this perspective. The conflict. b the models of motivation that are most influential in education and socio-constructivist perspectives is explored, and newer models of motivation, including explicitly socio-construc- tivist ones, are described. k review of motivation's treatment in new curricular approaches further illustrates how socio-constructivist perspectives can expand and revise our under- standing of classroom motivation. This review also illustrates how the expanded study of motivation might help demonstrate the value of new approaches, and yield important insights that can help advance them. Finally, this review shows h w ubiquitous intrinsically motivating instructional principles may undermine the goals of new curricular approaches, suggesting expanded consideration of motivational issues within curricular and professional development efforts.associated with those approaches.

    For many years, research on cognition &d inslmction main- tained a strict focus on knowledge structures presumed to be in the mind of individual learners. Consider, for example, that Resnick's (1981) review of instructional psychology focused exclusively on issues of information processing, problem solving, and intelligence. However, contemporary perspec- tives reflect a dramatic shift toward a broader, multisource model that considers many other influences. As Resnick (1989) described this shift:

    In a sense, a new kind of mental discipline theory is being formulated, one that situates learning ability in a combination of skills and dispositions for elaborative and generative men- tal work. The new attention to dispositions for mental activity, in turn, directs instructional theorists' attention to aspects of human functioning that for. many decades have been treated as separate from cognition. (p. 10)

    The most salient aspects of human functioning in this newer perspective are sociocultural influences. Drawing strongly from the work of Vygotsky (e.g., 1978) and his

    Requests for reprints should be sent to Daniel T. Hickey, Center for Performance Assessment, Educational Testing Service, Mail Stop 11-P, Princeton, New Jersey 08619. E-maikdhickey

    followers (e.g., Cole & Bmner, 1971; Lave, 1988; Rogoff, 1990; Wertsch, 1991), a perspective loosely defined as socio- constructivism has emerged as a dominant force in efforts to understand and improve schooll learning. Incorporating influ- ences traditionally associated with sociology imd anthropol- ogy, this perspective emphasizes the impact of collaboration, social context, and negotiatior~ on thinking and learning. A central notion in socio-constmctivism is asszsted learning. Assisted learning occurs in the now-familiar "zone of proxi- mal development," where more able others actively scaffold the individual's performan~ce at a level beyond which the individual could perform alone. Contemporary cognitive theorists have expanded this; notion to give nonsocial aspects of the environment an active role in the individual's learning as well. Rather than a solitary process, these newer perspec- tives assume that effective learning occurs via interaction with and support from people and objects in the world. This central, active role for the physical and social environment distin- guishes contemporary socio-constructivism from Piagetian models of learning and development, and associated instruc- tional innovations such as "discovery learniing." Socio-con- structivism9s influence on education is reflected in its central role in reform documents such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics' (NCTM, 1989) Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics and the Ameri-




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    can Psychological Association's Learner-Centered Psycho- logical Principles: Guidelines for School Redesign and Re- form (Presidential Task Force on Psychology in Education, 1993).

    The label socio-constructivist is applied to a bewildering array of pedagogical treatments. Notable examples of the class of approaches considered in this article include cognitive apprenticeship (Collins, Brown, & Newman, 1989), commu- nities of learners (A. L. Brown et al., 1993; A. L. Brown & Carnpione, 1994), intentional learning (Bereiter & Scar- damalia, 1989), schools for thought (Lamon et al., 1996), anchored instruction (The Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt [CTGV], 1990, 1992)' and reciprocal teaching (A. L. Brown & Palincsar, 1989). At the core of each of these examples are tasks and activities structured so that people and objects serve to model and coach understanding and perform- ance, to scaffold student learning. The reader is advised that even these few examples represent highly divergent applica- tions of socio-constructivist theory, illustrating the caution called for by generalized characterizations of this complex, evolving approach. Furthermore, it is impossible to point to a class of exemplary "conventional" curricular approaches. As such, the general distinction between socio-constructivist approaches and more conventional approaches simultane- ously overrepresents and underrepresents the complexities of the issues at hand. However, it is exactly the intention of this article to consider these newer in~tructional approaches and relatively conventional approaches in general, to provoke discussion that appears overdue.

    This article concerns the role of motivation in socio-construc- tivist approaches. Reviewing the literature associated with so- cio-constructivist approaches reveals little consideration of ex- isting classroom motivation research. At first take, this might surprise some observers. Cognitive theorists generally acknow- ledge that cognitive precesses interact with motivation-an assumption that has bean more formally documented by numer- ous studies. In particular, researchers have shown that the types of cognitive and metac~gnidve strategic activity targeted by the new instructional frameworks are strongly impacted by motiva- tional variables such m interest and goal orientation (e.g., Gra- ham & Golan, 1991; Hidi, 1990; Pintrich, Marx, & Boyle, 1993; Schiefele, 1992). To some educational researchers, the treatment of motivation in these new instructional frameworks must seem limited to untested assumpti~ns about their positive effect on motivation, and about motivation's role in their successful func- tioning.

    At a more practical level, motivational issues have had little discernible role in the debate over the merits of socio- constructivist innovation (e.g., Duffy & Jonassen, 1991a, 1991b; McLellen, 1993; Tobias, 1991). Again, to many ob- servers, this must seem surprising (and unfortunate). Con- structivist instructional approaches have been intensely scru- tinized by conventionally minded educators and instructional