Thursday, July 29, 2010

Expectancy Value Theory

Compared to the self-worth theory, the expectancy value theory is a lot easier for me to accept. However, I must remember that this is just a brief overview of the theory; the general synopsis provided in table 6.1 allows me to interpret the vagueness of this description however I please. (Further research could show that my assumptions here are not in accordance with a more detailed profile of the theory.) 

On Expectancy:
Essentially, no one is going to take on a task they know to be impossible. Still, there's a huge spectrum of different levels of "challenging" that spans between the endpoints of "easy" and "impossible." 

The way I see it, somewhere along that spectrum the challenge level shifts from encouraging to overwhelming (no doubt there are shades of gray in between those two points as well). 

I would predict that people of almost all ages are open to challenges, but I'd expect that the level /intensity of challenge that a person is willing to undertake--that is to say, the level at which the challenge remains predominantly encouraging--would correlate to experience of some measure (not necessarily years). 

On Value:
Here I'm a bit more inquisitive than I was with the 'expectancy' variable. 
The E.V. Theory says that motivated learners have to believe that there is some benefit to the task at hand. Okay, I can get on board with that: we wouldn't do/learn something unless we had good enough reason to. 

As the description goes on to say, 
"Learners must place a value on the task itself or the outcomes that are likely to result." 
I start to wonder whether this distinction (the bolded part of the quote) is at all connected to the seemingly similar distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, which Ormrod also discusses in chapter six:
"intrinsic motivation: [A person] is motivated by factors within herself or inherent in the task she is performing. Learners who are intrinsically motivated may engage in an activity because it gives them pleasure, helps them develop a skill they think is important, or is the ethically and morally right thing to do. Some learners with high levels of intrinsic motivation become so focused on and absorbed in an activity that they lose track of time and completely ignore other tasks--a phenomenon known as flow.
extrinsic motivation: [A person] is motivated by factors external to herself and unrelated to the task she is performing. Learners who are extrinsically motivated may want the good grades, money, or recognition that particular activities and accomplishments bring. Essentially, they are motivated to perform the task as a means to an end, not as an end in and of itself." (pg. 181)
In terms of my question, I'm still pretty torn as to whether the distinction between "value of the task itself" and "value of the task's outcomes" is the same as the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

One could argue that the distinction made within the value definition (the task itself vs. the outcomes of the task) still implies intrinsic motivation, because even the outcome is still related to the task. On the other hand, "getting good grades" is technically a beneficial outcome of an otherwise unappealing task, and one that Ormrod has classified as external to the task. 

The ultimate question in my mind becomes, "Is there a difference between 'performing a task for beneficial outcomes' and "performing a task as a means to an end'?"

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