22 SES 12 A, Motivation is Important for Excellence in Higher Education, Isn’t It?!
Excellence is a behaviour a person demonstrates in a specific context. Subotnik, Olszewski-Kubilius, & Worrell (2011) argue that the abilities of individuals do matter, but that different talents also need different contexts in order to find their expression. They advise societies to strive for successful talent development. At the same time the learner has a responsibility to be motivated to put in the extra effort. This symposium considers several motivational aspects of students and teachers related to talented students in higher education. Hence, by combining several empirical studies on motivation and excellence, this symposium is a first effort to create a more comprehensive model of motivation in relation of high-ability students in higher education.
In a large number of universities in many countries, students with different talent profiles are provided with different trajectories (often called ‘honours’) within or as an extension of their general curricula. Based on this model, the first of three fundamental questions to consider what the relation is between excellence and motivation. In this symposium, Pullen, Griffioen, Schoonenboom and Beishuizen present their results on this relation, while taking the notion of ‘excellence’ beyond students’ cognitive potential. In their study they consider intelligence, creativity, and GPA as metrics for Dutch students’ potential excellence, while also including a personality model.
A second question to consider is which students are actually participating in the honours trajectories. The paper of Furtwengler considers US students of high ability who choose to participate in ancillary high profile programs and students who forgo such a learning experience. This study considers if these two groups of students adopt different goal orientations as a foundation for their choice to participate in a post-secondary honors program.
The third study elaborates more on the character of the students who choose to participate in honours trajectories. In her paper, Klebig interviews students in German elitist trajectories to see whether it is mainly their motivation that made them choose for these trajectories, or whether social upbringing and support also plays a role.
The last aspect to consider is the relevance of motivation in the learning environment of honours trajectories. The paper by Wolfensberger and Zubizarreta considers the intrinsic motivation of teachers in honors programs in the US and The Netherlands. The intrinsic motivation of teachers is then combined with their educational strategies to teach talented students in honors education.
Combined, the four studies comprising this symposium provides a first step towards a more comprehensive view on the different motivational aspects to consider in both high-ability students and their learning environments. Based on the knowledge combined, future research can be better positioned to fill the gaps in our knowledge on the function of motivation in honours. As well, it can help to create more optimal educational programs for excellent students, both within and beyond honours trajectories.
Selection of references full symposium
Deci, E.L., Eghrari, H., Patrick, B.C., & Leone, D.R. (1994). Facilitating internalization: The self-determination theory perspective. Journal of Personality, 62(1), 119-142.
Elliot, A., & Murayama, K. (2008). On the measurement of achievement goals: critique, illustration, and application. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100, 613-628. doi: 10.1037/0022-06220.127.116.113
Ogilvie, K., & Reza, E. (2009). Business student performance in traditional vs. honors course settings. Business Education Innovation Journal, 1, 31-37.
Pelletier, L., Séquin-Lévesque C., Legault, L. (2002) Pressure from above and pressure from below as determinants of teachers’ motivation and teaching behaviors. Journal of Educational Psychology, 186-196.
Subotnik, R. F., Olszewski-Kubilius, P., & Worrell, F. C. (2011). Rethinking Giftedness and Gifted Education. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 12(1), 3-54.
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