The impact of students' perceptions of assessment tasks on self-efficacy and perception of task value: a path analysis.
Task Value and Self-Efficacy
Expectancy-value and self-efficacy theories have been prominent in explaining students' achievement strivings. The expectancy-value theory is concerned with the extent to which students value an academic task (Wigfield & Eccles, 1992, 2000). According to the theory, task value refers to students' perceptions of the importance, interest, and utility to them of engaging in an academic task. Students are likely to perform tasks that they value and avoid tasks that they do not value (Wigfield & Eccles, 1992). Self-efficacy refers to students' judgments of how well they can do the task (Bandura, 1993). Students tend to avoid tasks that they believe exceed their capabilities, whereas they approach others because they believe that they are capable of handling the demands. From the perspective of Bandura's (1993) social cognitive theory and classroom assessment, self-efficacy is affected by the students' perception of importance, utility, and value of the assessment task. When students perceive the assessment task to be important and useful for them, they are likely to develop strong self-efficacy (McMillan & Workman, 1998; Wigfield & Eccles, 1992).
Task value and self-efficacy are both key components for understanding students' choice of assessment tasks, persistence in difficult tasks, and performance in assessment tasks in the classroom (Wigfield & Eccles, 2000). Given the amount of classroom time spent by students in assessment tasks, it is important that a study is undertaken to investigate ways of enhancing student self-efficacy and perception of task value.
Students' Perceptions of Assessment Tasks
Educational assessment is an important aspect of daily classroom practice and is crucial for understanding student motivation and achievement (McMillan & Workman, 1998). Brookhart (1997) developed a theoretical framework for the role of classroom assessment in motivating student effort and achievement. Students' perceptions of assessment tasks and of other relevant features of the classroom assessment context are integrated into the framework. According to this theory, students are daily exposed to a variety of assessment tasks. As students process these tasks, they develop beliefs about the importance, utility, and value of the tasks and activate self-efficacy.
Building on Brookhart's (1997) theoretical framework, McMillan and Workman (1998) developed a conceptual framework illustrating how particular classroom assessment practices increase or decrease student motivation. Specifically, the following assessment practices may enhance student motivation to learn: (a) being clear about how learning will be evaluated, (b) providing specific feedback following an assessment activity, (c) using mistakes to show students how learning can be improved, (d) using moderately difficult assessments, (e) using many assessments rather than a few major ones, (f) using authentic assessment tasks, (g) using preestablished scoring criteria for evaluating student work, (h) providing incremental assessment feedback, and (i) providing attainable grading criteria prior to administering the assessment task.
Stiggins and Chappuis (2005) have also described four conditions that may foster positive motivational patterns for students: Classroom assessments should focus on clear purposes, provide accurate reflections of achievement, provide students with continuous access to descriptive, rather than judgmental, feedback on their work improvement, and involve students in the assessment process.
Researchers in North America (e.g., Brookhart & Bronowicz, 2003; Brookhart & DeVoge, 1999; Brookhart, Walsh, & Zientarski, 2006; Rodriguez, 2004) have tested the theoretical and conceptual frameworks of Brookhart (1997) and McMillan and Workman (1998). In the present study, we have expanded to an Arab culture the applicability of the relationship between classroom assessment and student motivation, a concept that was largely developed in Western culture.
Given that students' perceptions of classroom assessment tasks are vital in classroom assessment research (Ames, 1992; Brookhart, 2013), there is a need to operationalize these perceptions. Therefore, Dorman and Knightley (2006) developed the Perceptions of Assessment Tasks Inventory (PATI), a 40-item instrument with five scales: congruence with planned learning, authenticity, student consultation, transparency, and diversity. Congruence with planned learning refers to the extent to which students perceive the assignment tasks align with the goals, objectives, and activities of the learning program. Authenticity refers to the extent to which students perceive the assessment tasks are related to their everyday living. Student consultation refers to the extent to which students are involved in, and consulted about, the assessment process. Transparency refers to the extent to which students are clearly informed about the purposes and forms of the assessment. Diversity refers to the extent to which students perceive that they can complete the assessment tasks at their own speed.
Although few researchers have investigated the relationship between these perceptions and student self-efficacy and perception of task value, Dorman, Fisher, and Waldrip (2006) found that congruence with planned learning, authenticity, transparency, and diversity were the most significant predictive factors of academic self-efficacy. In addition, Dhindsa, Omar, and Waldrip (2007) found that although students perceived that their classroom assessment tasks aligned with what they learned in class and had transparency, there were low levels of student consultation, authenticity, and diversity, which might be detrimental to self-efficacy. Recently, Alkharusi (2013) showed that high levels of authenticity, transparency, and diversity were significantly associated with self-efficacy and perception of task value.
The Hypothesized Model
Our theoretical model summarizing the hypothesized relationships between perceptions of the assessment tasks, task value, and self-efficacy, is presented in Figure 1. It was hypothesized that students' perceptions of assessment tasks in terms of congruence with planned learning, authenticity, student consultation, transparency, and diversity would have indirect effects on self-efficacy via task value. The purpose in the present study was to determine how well this model fitted data from a sample of students enrolled in the second cycle of basic education in Oman.
The target population was students in the second cycle of basic education (Grades 5-10) at North Al-Batinah and North Al-Sharqiyah public schools in Oman. Because a list of all students in these two governorates could not be obtained from the Ministry of Education in Oman, a cluster sampling procedure was employed to select the students by utilizing a list of all public schools in the two governorates. From the 58 boys' schools and 36 girls' schools on the list, a random sample of 29 boys' schools and 18 girls' schools was selected. One grade level of the second cycle of basic education was then randomly selected from each school, and all students from that grade were included in the study. This resulted in a sample of 3,525 Omani students (2,175 boys and 1,350 girls) being surveyed. Valid responses were obtained from 2,137 students (977 boys and 1,160 girls) with an overall response rate of about 60%. The average age was 15 years (SD = 1.7). The students were enrolled in different classes including Arabic language (20.4%), science (17%), mathematics (15.6%), Islamic education (12.4%), English language (11.7%), social studies (11.7%), life skills (3.5%), physical education (2.6%), information technology (2.4%), art education (2%), and music education (0.7%).
Permission for the study was granted by the Ministry of Education in Oman. Data collection took place during a regular scheduled class meeting. The participants were told that a study investigating their perceptions of classroom assessment tasks was being conducted. They were informed that they did not have to participate, and, if they wished, their responses would remain anonymous and confidential.
Students who wished to participate were given a self-report two-part survey. The first part contained items regarding students' demographic information in terms of gender, age, class, and the class subject being taught. The second part comprised sets of items measuring students' perceptions of assessment tasks, task value, and self-efficacy. The students were asked to consider their class subject being taught, when rating these perceptions. The administration of the survey by assistant researchers during a scheduled class meeting took on average about 30 minutes, and was preceded by a brief set of instructions about completing the survey. The items of the survey were not counterbalanced.
Three measures were used to assess students' perceptions of assessment tasks, task value, and self-efficacy on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The items in the measures were subjected to a content validation process undertaken by a panel of three educational measurement and psychology professors at Sultan Qaboos University. They were asked to judge the clarity of wording and appropriateness of each item and its relevance to the construct being measured. Their feedback was used to refine the items.
Perceptions of assessment tasks. The perceptions of assessment tasks measure included 35 items from Alkharusi's (2013) Arabic version of the PATI. The items measured students' perceptions of the assessment tasks for their class subject in terms of congruence with planned learning (seven items, Cronbach's [alpha] = .61, e.g., "I am assessed on what the teacher has taught me"); authenticity (seven items, Cronbach's [alpha] = .68, e.g., "My assessment tasks in this class are meaningful"); student consultation (seven items, Cronbach's [alpha] = .62, e.g., "I am asked about the types of assessment I would like to have in this class"); transparency (seven items, Cronbach's [alpha] = .61, e.g., "I am told in advance when I am being assessed"); and diversity (seven items, Cronbach's [alpha] = .60, e.g., "I am given a choice of assessment tasks"). Five scale scores were derived from the participants' responses, and were calculated by averaging scores on the items comprising each scale, with high scores representing positive perceptions of assessment tasks.
Task value. The perception of task value measure included six items from Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, and Mckeachie's (1993) Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ), which measured students' perceptions of the class subject in terms of importance, interest, and utility, such as "It is important for me to learn the subject material in this class" (Cronbach's [alpha] = .61). An individual student's task value perception was represented by an average rating score across the items, with high scores representing positive perceptions of task value.
Self-efficacy. The self-efficacy measure included eight items from the MSLQ measuring students' perceptions of their competence to do the class work in the class subject, such as "I am confident that I can learn the basic concepts taught in this class" (Cronbach's [alpha] = .65). An individual student's self-efficacy was represented by an average rating score across the items, with high scores representing high levels of self-efficacy.
Path analysis was used to analyze the data. The model was estimated using the covariance structure and the maximum likelihood method in the EQS 6 for Windows (Bentler & Wu, 2002) statistical package. It was evaluated by goodness-of-fit statistics which assessed the extent to which the model fit the data and t tests of specific path coefficients to determine whether or not each of the hypothesized relationships had been confirmed. For an acceptable model fit, the ratio [chi square]/df should be less than, or equal to, 3, the root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) should be less than or equal to .08, and the nonnormed fit index (NNFI), also called the Tucker-Lewis Index (TLI), and the comparative fit index (CFI) should both be greater than, or equal to, .95 (Schermelleh-Engel, Moosbrugger, & Muller, 2003). Prior to analysis, the variables were screened for outliers and normality. In addition, the means, standard deviations, and zero-order intercorrelations were computed for the variables.
As shown in Table 1, the skewness and kurtosis values for all variables were within an acceptable range of [+ or -] 2 (George & Mallery, 2001). Therefore, there was no concern about deviation from normality. On average, participants held positive perceptions of assessment tasks in terms of congruence with planned learning, authenticity, transparency, and diversity, but not student consultation. On average, they also reported high self-efficacy levels and tended to hold positive perceptions of the value of the tasks in terms of importance, interest, and utility. An examination of the zero-order correlations revealed that perceptions of assessment tasks were positively and significantly related, and each was significantly and positively associated with self-efficacy and perception of task value. Task value and self-efficacy were positively and significantly related, which is consistent with the expectancy-value theory (Wigfield & Eccles, 1992).
Initial analysis of the model in Figure 1 yielded poor goodness-of-fit index values, [chi square] = 287.14 (p = .00, df = 5), RMSEA = .16 with 90% confidence interval (CI) = .15 .18, NNFI = .66, and CFI = .92. A Wald test by simultaneous process suggested dropping the path from transparency to task value. This was not statistically significant. A Lagrange multiplier test by simultaneous process suggested adding direct paths from congruence with planned learning, authenticity, and transparency to self-efficacy. Taking the results of these tests into consideration, the initial model was respecified, on the basis of previous studies (e.g., Alkharusi, 2013; Dorman et al., 2006). The final path analysis model including perceptions of assessment tasks, task value, and self-efficacy is shown in Figure 2. Results yielded an inferential test of [chi square] = 4.427 (p = .219, df = 3), with the following descriptive fit indices: RMSEA = .02 with 90% CI = .00-.04, NNFI = .99, and CFI = 1. These results show that the respecified model provided an excellent fit to the observed data.
With respect to the path coefficients, as shown in Figure 2, there were statistically significant positive direct effects of congruence with planned learning (y = .15, t = 6.99), authenticity (y = .18, t = 8.38), and transparency (y = .10, t = 4.92) on self-efficacy. At the same time, congruence with planned learning (y = .06, t = 6.96) and authenticity (y = .07, t = 8.07) had statistically significant indirect effects on self-efficacy through task value. In addition, student consultation (y = .02, t = 2.83) and diversity (y = .02, t = 2.96) had statistically significant indirect effects on self-efficacy through task value. There were no statistically significant direct effects either of transparency on task value, or of student consultation and diversity on self-efficacy. As also shown in Figure 2, the perceptions of assessment tasks were related positively and significantly, with correlations ranging from .31 between congruence with planned learning and diversity, to .47 between student consultation and diversity. Overall, the model accounted for 31.8% of the variance in self-efficacy and 15.7% of the variance in task value.
Our major contribution to the literature is the empirical test of theoretical and conceptual models, by combining variables from classroom assessment research and expectancy-value and self-efficacy theories in a sociocultural and educational context different from that in Western culture.
The results of our study lend additional support to the theoretical perspectives about the role of classroom assessment in student academic motivation and achievement (Brookhart, 1997; McMillan & Workman, 1998). They also provide evidence that classroom assessment tasks are designed and administered by the teacher in ways that activate students' perceptions of the importance, utility, and value of the tasks, and beliefs about their ability to do the tasks (Brookhart, 1997; McMillan & Workman, 1998). Overall, the results emphasize the importance of developing assessment tasks in ways that ensure construct validity and consequential validity. Construct validity means that the assessment tasks are representative of classroom instruction and real-life situations (Messick, 1994). Consequential validity means that the assessment tasks have a positive impact on student achievement-related outcomes (Messick, 1994).
There are several implications in this study for ways in which teachers can foster student self-efficacy and perception of task value through classroom assessment. We demonstrated that students are likely to develop strong self-efficacy when the objectives of a particular assessment task match classroom instructional goals, the nature of the task is authentic, representing real-life situations, and the scoring standards and criteria of the assessment task are clear to the students in advance. In addition, involving students in the assessment process, and individualizing the assessment and learning process are likely to activate positive perceptions of the importance, utility, and value of engaging in the tasks. These perceptions are likely to result in a strong sense of self-efficacy (McMillan & Workman, 1998).
The results in the current study are methodologically limited by the use of correlational data in that no causal inferences can be drawn from the relationships among the variables. It is possible for many variables in the model to have reciprocal relationships. Future researchers may consider conducting longitudinal studies to test the causal ordering of the relationships among the variables. In addition, students' reports of their perceptions of classroom assessment tasks and their beliefs about task value and self-efficacy may not be the same as their perceptions and beliefs at the time they are actually engaging in classroom assessment tasks. This situation may have attenuated the magnitude of the some of the paths linking perceptions of assessment tasks and beliefs about task value and self-efficacy in the model. Future researchers may consider conducting classroom observations and interviews with students in addition to the self-report survey.
Moreover, our findings are limited by our testing only a small number of variables. Our understanding of the role of classroom assessment in student achievement and motivation could be enhanced by considering other background and demographic variables such as gender, socioeconomic status, and past achievement. Also, classroom assessment researchers have shown that assessment practices may vary across subject areas (Zhang & Burry-Stock, 2003), and, as such, students' perceptions of assessment tasks may be driven by the nature of the assessment practices in the subject. Thus, future researchers may need to include the subject area as a variable. Future researchers should also test the generalizability of the results.
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HUSSAIN ALKHARUSI, SAID ALDHAFRI, AND HILAL ALNABHANI
Sultan Qaboos University
Ministry of Education, Oman
Hussain Alkharusi, Said Aldhafri, and Hilal Alnabhani, Sultan Qaboos University; Muna Alkalbani, Ministry of Education, Oman.
This study was supported by a grant (RC/EDU/PSYC/12/01) from The Research Council in Oman. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to: Hussain Alkharusi, Department of Psychology, College of Education, Sultan Qaboos University, P.O. Box 32, Al-Khod 123, Sultanate of Oman. Email: email@example.com
Table 1. Means, Standard Deviations, Skewness, Kurtosis, and Intercorrelations for the Study Variables Variables 1 2 3 4 5 1. Congruence -- 2. Authenticity .42 ** -- 3. Student consultation .32 ** .40 ** -- 4. Transparency .43 ** .43 ** .40 ** -- 5. Diversity .31 ** .39 ** .47 ** .33 ** -- 6. Task value .30 ** .34 ** .24 ** .24 ** .24 ** 7. Self-efficacy .37 ** .40 ** .23 ** .33 ** .24 ** Variables 6 M SD Skewness Kurtosis 1. Congruence 3.27 .32 -.63 1.67 2. Authenticity 3.24 .34 -.78 2.00 3. Student consultation 2.99 .43 -.50 .09 4. Transparency 3.24 .32 -.63 1.98 5. Diversity 3.05 .43 -.59 .40 6. Task value -- 3.13 .37 -.48 1.12 7. Self-efficacy .47 ** 3.23 .33 -.76 2.00 Note. N = 2,137. ** p < .001.
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|Author:||Alkharusi, Hussain; Aldhafri, Said; Alnabhani, Hilal; Alkalbani, Muna|
|Publication:||Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2013|
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