Motivational beliefs in the TIMSS 2003 context : Theory, measurement and relation to test performance

Abstract: The main objective of this thesis was to explore issues related to student achievement motivation in the Swedish TIMSS 2003 (Trend in International Mathematics and Science Study) context. The thesis comprises of five empirical papers and a summary. The expectancy-value theory of achievement motivation was used as the general theoretical framework in all empirical papers, and all papers are concerned with construct validation in one form or another. Aspects of student achievement motivation were measured on a task-specific level (motivation to do well on the TIMSS test) and on a domain-specific level (self-concept in and valuing of mathematics and science) and regressed on test performance. The first paper reports the development and validation of scores from an instrument measuring aspects related to student test-taking motivation. It was shown that a number of items in the instrument could be interpreted as a measure of test-taking motivation, and that the test-taking motivation construct was distinct from other related constructs. The second paper related the Swedish students’ ratings of mathematics test-taking motivation to mathematics performance in TIMSS 2003. The students in the sample on average reported that they were well motivated to do their best on the TIMSS mathematics test and their ratings of test-taking motivation were positively but rather weakly related to achievement. In the third and the fourth papers, the internal structure and relation to performance of the mathematics and science self-concept and task value scales used in TIMSS internationally was investigated for the Swedish TIMSS 2003 sample. For mathematics, it was shown that the internationally derived scales were suitable also for the Swedish sample. It was further shown that ratings of self-concept were rather strongly related to mathematics achievement while ratings of mathematics value were basically unrelated to mathematics achievement. For the science subjects, the internal structure of the scales was less simple, and ratings of self-concept and valuing of science were not very strongly related to science achievement. The study presented in the fifth paper used interviews and an open-ended questionnaire item to further investigate student test-taking motivation and perceptions of the TIMSS test. The results mainly corroborated the results from study II. In the introductory part of the thesis, the empirical studies are summarized, contextualized, and discussed. The discussion relates obtained results to theoretical assumptions, applied implications, and to issues of validity in the TIMSS context.