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  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: June 2012

8 - Motivating Self-Regulated Problem Solvers


Solving a complex problem requires more than mere knowledge; it requires the motivation and personal resourcefulness to undertake the challenge and persist until a solution is reached. Classical theories of problem solving have emphasized the role of discovery or illumination as a primary motive to learn, but contemporary research has uncovered an array of highly predictive task- and performance-related motivational beliefs, such as self-efficacy, outcome expectations, intrinsic task interest, and learning goal orientations. Unlike trait motivational constructs, such as the need for achievement, these motivational beliefs change during the course of problem solving, and a complete account of their role must describe their interrelation with metacognitive and motor learning processes. Self-regulation models of learning and performance have integrated metacognitive, motoric, and motivational aspects of problem solving within a cyclical structure. We discuss how these task- and performance-related motivational beliefs instigate problem-solving efforts, and reciprocally how these beliefs are modified based on the outcomes of self-regulated solution efforts.

This chapter begins with a description of the difficulties of problem solving in formal and informal contexts, with particular focus on motivational beliefs and associated behavioral processes. The limited conceptions of problem solving derived from research in formal contexts are discussed, and the need to broaden these conceptions to explain problem solving in informal contexts is emphasized. Methods of problem solving used by experts and their high levels of motivation are described, and a model of self-regulated problem solving is presented that cyclically integrates numerous motivation beliefs and self-regulatory processes.

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The Psychology of Problem Solving
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