Effects of conceptual levels and direct and non-direct instruction patterns on achievement and motivation in course content

Dawson Roger Hancock, Fordham University

Abstract

Based upon research of Aptitude-Treatment Interactions (ATI), this study investigated the effects of students' conceptual levels and teachers' instruction patterns on students' achievement in and motivation to learn course content. Examining 63 cadets enrolled in a course entitled "Motivation and Performance in Organizations" at the United States Military Academy, the study hypothesized that high conceptual level cadets would benefit academically and motivationally from nondirect instruction, whereas low conceptual level cadets would learn more and demonstrate greater motivation under direct instruction conditions.^ Using the Paragraph Completion Method test, cadets were first categorized as high (N = 31) or low (N = 32) conceptual level. Then, they were divided randomly into equal-sized treatment conditions--direct or nondirect instruction. For 3 weeks, cadets were taught 8 lessons using either direct teaching strategies (pre-established classroom objectives, directed discussion, structured learning activities) or nondirect instruction practices (cadet involvement in determining classroom objectives, open exchange of ideas, active participation in learning activities).^ After 3 weeks, each participant's achievement was assessed using an instructor-generated, criterion-referenced examination of the cadet's abilities to describe, compare, and apply course content. Also, each cadet's motivation to learn course content was measured using a version of the Expectancy Theory Model of motivation.^ As hypothesized, no significant differences existed between high and low conceptual level students or between direct and nondirect instruction patterns with respect to academic achievement in or motivation to learn course material. However, as hypothesized, significant interactions occurred. For low conceptual level cadets, direct teaching methods maximized both achievement and motivation; for high conceptual level students, nondirect instruction significantly enhanced both achievement in and motivation to learn course content.^ These results contributed to the educational instruction literature first by substantiating previous findings that proper matches between students' conceptual levels and teachers' instruction patterns impact positively upon students' academic achievement. However, more importantly, the study expanded existing ATI findings by revealing that proper instruction pattern/conceptual level matches also increase student motivation to learn. It was suggested that these findings might assist West Point professors and administrators as they develop instructional strategies which maximize cadets' achievement and motivation to excel academically. ^

Subject Area

Curriculum development|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Hancock, Dawson Roger, "Effects of conceptual levels and direct and non-direct instruction patterns on achievement and motivation in course content" (1991). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9136325.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9136325

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