Using achievement goal theory as a theoretical framework, this study examined how children and adolescents conceptualized their own ability in physical education. Specifically, children and adolescents were asked to rate their own ability in physical education and to explain the basis for their rating. The research also aimed to identify children and adolescents who attained the differentiated conception of ability but believed in the efficacy of effort. Students (N = 120) in 4th, 8th, and 11th grades were interviewed and completed a questionnaire. Results indicated that the criteria the children and adolescents used forjudging their own ability differed by grade. Children and adolescents at all grade levels tended to assess their own ability in terms of social comparison. Some adolescents with the differentiated conception of ability maintained a belief in the effectiveness of effort.
Ping Xiang, Amelia Lee, and Lynn Williamson
Forest J. Jourden, Albert Bandura, and Jason T. Banfield
This study tested the hypothesis that conceptions of ability affect self-regulatory processes and the acquisition rate of a perceptual-motor skill. Subjects performed a rotary pursuit task under induced cognitive sets that task performance reflected inherent aptitude or acquirable skill. Their perceived self-efficacy, affective self-reactions, and performance attainments were measured over a series of trials. Subjects who performed the task under the inherent-aptitude conception of ability displayed no growth in perceived self-efficacy across phases, negative self-reactions to performances, low interest in the activity, and a limited level of skill development. In contrast, those who performed the task under the conception of ability as an acquirable skill displayed growth in perceived self-efficacy, positive self-reactions to their performances, widespread interest in the activity, and a high level of skill acquisition. The stronger the positive self-reactions, the greater the subsequent performance attainments.
Amelia M. Lee, Jo A. Carter, and Ping Xiang
Raul Reina, Yeshayahu Hutzler, María C. Iniguez-Santiago, and Juan A. Moreno-Murcia
attitudes toward inclusion of peers with disabilities. In addition, we explored the influence of gender and previous contact and participation in physical activities with persons with disabilities on the students’ attitudes. Conceptions of Ability and Their Relationships With Attitudes Two of the barriers
Cathy D. Lirgg, Melissa A. Chase, Thomas R. George, and Robert H. Ferguson
Ricardo Drews, Suzete Chiviacowsky, and Gabriele Wulf
The present study investigated the effects of different ability conceptions on motor skills learning in 6-, 10-, and 14-year-old children. In each age group, different groups were given either inherent-ability or acquirable-skill instructions before they began practicing a throwing task. Participants were blindfolded and were asked to throw beanbags at a target placed on the floor at a distance of 3 m. All participants performed 40 practice trials and received feedback about the accuracy of their throws after each trial. One day after practice, retention and transfer (greater target distance) tests without instructions or feedback were conducted to assess learning effects. Older participants generally had higher accuracy scores than younger participants. Importantly, instructions emphasizing the learnability of the skill resulted in greater throwing accuracy on the retention test than did those implying an underlying inherent ability. On the transfer test, the same effect was seen for the 14-year-olds, but not for the younger age groups, suggesting that adolescents may be more vulnerable to the threat of their inherent ability being exposed. The present findings demonstrate the importance of ability conceptions for motor learning in children and adolescents. They also add to the mounting evidence of motivational influences on motor skill learning.
Melinda A. Solmon, Amelia M. Lee, Donald Belcher, Louis Harrison Jr., and Lori Wells
Beliefs about gender appropriateness and conceptions of ability have been identified as powerful influences on beliefs about competence. The purpose of this study was to investigate the interaction of those two factors on competence beliefs in physical activity. Participants completed a survey about the sport of hockey, watched a video of a specific hockey skill, and then responded to questions about the skill. Males expressed more confidence in their ability to learn hockey than females, but females who perceived the activity to be gender neutral were more confident in their ability to learn hockey than females who believed the activity was predominantly for males. Participants’ explanations of their beliefs about gender appropriateness and confidence shed light on how competence beliefs are affected by perceptions of gender appropriateness and conceptions of ability.
This study was designed to examine the relationship between conceptions of ability and understandings of the meaning of effort. Participants practiced a novel task and completed an ability conceptions questionnaire prior to instruction and a meaning of effort survey after practicing the task. The majority of participants believed in the efficacy of effort, no matter what view of ability they endorsed. Partial support was provided for the proposition that participants with stronger incremental views of ability were likely to endorse the view that trying hard allowed them to fully use their ability. It is suggested that, to promote active engagement and enhance skill learning, teachers capitalize on the belief in the efficacy of effort by focusing their motivational strategies on students’ effort.
Chris Harwood and Lew Hardy
In their response to our recent paper (Harwood, Hardy, & Swain, 2000), Treasure et al. (2001) claimed to have clarified our misconceptions and misrepresentations of achievement goal research. After first of all commenting on the apparently rather emotive nature of their response, we logically deal with each of their criticisms. Specifically, we present sound theoretical arguments to show that: (a) personal theories of achievement hold primacy over achievement goals; (b) we are not “particularly confused” (or even a little confused) in our understanding of conceptions of ability; (c) there are excellent reasons for examining the possibility of a tripartite approach to goal orientation and goal involvement; and (d) the issue of measurement in achievement goal research needs to be carefully reconsidered. Further, in response to the status quo offered by Treasure and colleagues, we call for more innovative research that will help progress the impact of achievement goal theory in competitive sport.
Gabriele Wulf, Rebecca Lewthwaite, and Andrew Hooyman
We examined the interactive influence of normative feedback and conceptions of ability on the learning of a balance task. Ability conceptions were induced by instructions portraying the task as either an acquirable skill or reflecting an inherent ability. Bogus normative feedback about the “average” balance scores of others on a given trial suggested that participants’ performance was either above (Better groups) or below average (Worse groups). Thus, there were four groups: Inherent-Ability Better, Inherent-Ability Worse, Acquirable-Skill Better, and Acquirable-Skill Worse. Following two days of practice, learning was assessed on Day 3 in retention and dual-task transfer tests. The Better groups demonstrated more effective learning than the Worse groups. Questionnaire results revealed differences in self-related concerns between those groups. Signature size changes suggested that participants in the Worse groups perceived negative normative feedback as a threat to the self. The findings highlight the importance of motivational influences on motor learning.