British Journal of Educational Psychology

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Volume 74 Issue 3 (September 2004), Pages 323-496

The role of different types of instrumentality in motivation, study strategies, and performance: Know why you learn, so you'll know what you learn! (pages 343-360)

Background: Two theories in the field of motivation and achievement, namely the future time perspective theory and goal theory, result in conflicting recommendations for enhancing students' motivation, because of their differential emphasis on the task at hand and on the future consequences of a task.

Aims: We will present a framework consisting of four types of instrumentality that combines both perspectives. The implications of those different types for goal orientation, motivation, cognitive strategies, study habits and performance are investigated.

Samples: Participants were a group of 184 first‐year nurse students with ages ranging from 18 to 45 years.

Methods: Questionnaires were administered that measured instrumentality, goal orientation, motivation, deep and surface level learning strategies, study habits, and a manipulation check. At the end of the year, exam scores were collected.

Results: The results showed that different types of instrumentality are related differently to the motivational, cognitive and achievement measures. Being internally regulated and perceiving the utility of the courses resulted both in a more adaptive goal orientation and higher intrinsic motivation, which led to the use of more adaptive cognitive strategies and to better study habits, which ultimately enhanced performance. Linking performance to extrinsic rewards and not seeing the utility of the course for the future yielded the opposite pattern.

Conclusions: Type of instrumentality has indeed a differential influence on motivational, cognitive, and behavioural variables.

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