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Test motivation in the assessment of student skills: The effects of incentives on motivation and performance

  • Jürgen Baumert
  • Anke Demmrich
Article

Abstract

There is widespread concern that assessments which have no direct consequences for students, teachers or schools underestimate student ability, and that the extent of this underestimation increases as the students become ever more familiar with such tests. This issue is particularly relevant for international comparative studies such as the IEA’s Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

In the present experimental study, a short form of the PISA mathematical literacy test is used to explore whether the levels of test motivation and test performance observed in the context of the standard PISA assessment situation can be improved by raising the stakes of testing. The impact of (1) informational feedback, (2) grading, and (3) performance-contingent financial rewards on the personal value of performing well, perceived utility of participating in the test, intended and invested effort, task-irrelevant cognitions, and test performance are investigated. The central finding of the study is that the different treatment conditions make the various value components of test motivation equally salient. Consequently, no differences were found either with respect to intended and invested effort or to test performance.

Key words

Intrinsic/extrinsic motivation Large-scale assessment Low/high-stakes test Test motivation Test performance 

Résumé

Il y a une mise en question assez répandue quant à la tendance qu’auraient les évaluations de performance scolaire ne tirant à conséquence directe ni pour les élèves ni pour les professeurs ni pour les établissments scolaires de sousestimer la compétence des élèves, cette sousestimation s’aggravant avec la connaissance approfondie de ce genre de tests chez les élèves. Le problème est particulièrement grave quand il s’agit d’études comparatives internationales comme le Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) de l’IEA ou ie Programme for International Student Assessments (PISA) de l’OCDE.

Dans l’étude expérimentale présentée ici, une version abrégée du test de culture mathématique utilisé pour PISA a été administrée pour savoir si le renforcement des enjeux du test les niveaux de motivation et de performance augmente par rapport à ceux observés dans le contexte de la situation standard de l’évaluation PISA. On a ainsi étudié l’effet exercé par (1) le feed-back en informations, (2) l’établissement de notes de performance et (3) les récompenses financières, échelonnées sur la performance observée, sur la valeur personnelle de bien performer, la perception du rendement de la participation au test, l’effort intentionnel et investi, les cognitions non-pertinentes à la tâche, et la performance réalisée au test. Le résultat majeur de l’étude est que la saillance des divers valeurs qui entrent dans la motivation de bien performer au test est la même pour toutes conditions proposées. Par conséquence, des différences n’ont été trouvées ni pour l’effort intentionnel et investi, ni pour la performance réalisée au test.

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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisbon, Portugal/ Springer Netherlands 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Human DevelopmentBerlinGermany

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