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Understanding the Meaning of Effort in Learning a Motor Skill: Ability Conceptions

Weidong Li

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.

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Relationships among Dispositional Ability Conceptions, Intrinsic Motivation, Perceived Competence, Experience, and Performance

Weidong Li, Amelia M. Lee, and Melinda A. Solmon

This study was designed to explore the relationships among individuals’ dispositional ability conceptions, intrinsic motivation, experience, perceived competence, persistence, and performance. Participants practiced a novel task, completed surveys before instruction and after practicing the task, and completed a skill test. The results indicated that participants with higher levels of entity ability conceptions were likely to exert less effort and be less intrinsically motivated during practice. Participants with more experience were likely to feel more competent before and after practice. Perceived competence, incremental ability conceptions, and performance were positive predictors of intrinsic motivation. The results suggest that providing students opportunities to experience a variety of activities and creating an environment in which students can feel competent, believe in the efficacy of effort, and experience success could foster intrinsic motivation to actively engage in activities.

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Conceptions of Ability in Physical Education: Children and Adolescents

Ping Xiang, Amelia Lee, and Lynn Williamson

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.