The attainment of expertise in diverse fields requires more than nascent talent, initial task interest, and high-quality instruction; it also involves personal initiative, diligence, and especially practice. Both the quality and quantity of an expert's practice have been linked directly to acquisition and maintenance of high levels of performance (Ericsson, 1996, Ericsson, Chapter 38). Regarding its quality, the practice of experts is characterized by its conscious deliberate properties – namely, a high level of concentration and the structuring of specific training tasks to facilitate setting appropriate personal goals, monitoring informative feedback, and providing opportunities for repetition and error correction (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Römer, 1993). Deliberate attention (i.e., strategic awareness) is believed to be necessary to overcome prior habits, to self-monitor accurately, and to determine necessary adjustments.
Although a skilled teacher typically structures these desirable dimensions of practice episodes, a student must implement them on his or her own before returning to the teacher for evaluation and new assignments. Expert musicians rated both lessons with their teacher and their solitary practice as two keys to their improvement, but only the latter was solely under their control (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Römer, 1993). Interestingly, the quantity of deliberate practice, but not total amount of music-related activity, was predictive of the musicians' acquisition and maintenance of expert performance. Ericsson (2003) has discussed a person's attempts to acquire expertise as deliberate problem solving because they involve forming a cognitive representation of the task, choosing appropriate techniques or strategies, and evaluating one's effectiveness.
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.
An essential feature of children's adjustment to school is their development of academically-related self-regulation and motivation. The question of how children acquire and internalize adult levels of self-regulatory competence and motivation has fascinated scholars since the ancient Greeks. Although philosophers, sociologists, and anthropologists have long emphasized the importance of socialization influences, until recently there has been relatively little detailed information about how such influences affect children's self-regulatory development. Since the late 1950s, researchers in the social learning tradition (Bandura & Walters, 1963) have hypothesized that children's exposure to socializing agents, especially adult or peer models, influences their behavioral and cognitive development (e.g., formation of concepts, attitudes, preferences, standards for self-reward and self-punishment). They found extensive evidence that children readily induce and transfer concepts that underlie modeling sequences (Rosenthal & Zimmerman, 1978; Zimmerman & Rosenthal, 1974).
In recent years, social cognitive theorists shifted their attention to adolescents' internalization of self-regulatory competence and studied how youngsters learn to function independently from socializing agents in an adaptive, generative, and creative manner. Bandura (1986) emphasized the importance of a number of specific self-regulatory processes. Self-regulation refers to processes students use to activate and sustain cognitions, behaviors, and affects, which are oriented toward the attainment of goals (Zimmerman, 1989, 1990). Academic self-regulatory processes include planning and managing time; attending to and concentrating on instruction; organizing, rehearsing, and coding information strategically; establishing a productive work environment; and using social resources effectively.
The ultimate goal of the educational system is to shift to the individual the burden of pursuing his [sic] own education.
With few exceptions, the most demanding cognitive and motivational challenge that growing children face concerns their development of academic competencies. This formidable task, which begins for most youngsters even before they enter school, occupies most of their waking hours until adulthood. It is public, competitive, and self-defining in the sense that academic records predetermine public reactions and occupational paths. Within this educational crucible, children acquire their self-conceptions of academic agency. It is their growing sense of self-efficacy and purpose that serve as major personal influences in their ultimate level of accomplishment. To enable these youth to reach John Gardner's (1963) goal of self-education, schools must go beyond teaching intellectual skills – to foster students' personal development of the self-beliefs and self-regulatory capabilities to educate themselves throughout a lifetime.
Although the role of self-conceptions in academic performance has long been recognized (McCombs, 1989), their measurement and scientific study has been hampered historically by a variety of conceptual and psychometric problems (Wylie, 1968; Zimmerman, 1989b). This impasse was surmounted in 1977 with Bandura's seminal treatise that proposed a theory of the origins, mediating mechanisms, and diverse effects of beliefs of personal efficacy. It also provided guidelines for measurement of self-efficacy beliefs for different domains of functioning.
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