Putting effort into learning: Do evaluative focus and motivational intervention play a key role in performance?
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This study examined two factors hypothesized to affect performance in a learning environment. Participants completed a tutorial about evaluating arguments under varying conditions in a 2 (evaluative focus) x 2 (motivational intervention) between-participants design. A personal evaluation focus was emphasized for some participants and not for other participants. Moreover, some participants were exposed to a motivational intervention highlighting room for skill development whereas other were not. After participants completed the tutorial, they completed a post-test that assessed their skills. According to prior research, it was expected that participants who felt either personally evaluated or exposed to a motivational intervention would exert more effort leading to better taks performance. Results indicated that, participants performed better on the post test than the pretest regardless of condition. Howver, these factors may also have consequences for other variables such as task interest and performance anxiety. Therefore, we also measured task interest, and anxiety. Participants in the motivational intervention conditions showed slightly more interest in the task than the participants in the no-motivational intervention condition. There was not a significant effect of motivational intervention on anxiety. While looking into the effects of anxiety, participants reported low levels of anxiety. In general, we hope that this study will inform instructors how to present tasks in order to maximize both performance and motivation.