Stirling to test for joy factor

August 17, 2001

Psychologists at Stirling University are set to investigate why students enjoy some courses more than others and whether higher education boosts or undermines their motivation as they progress through a degree.

Richard Remedios and David Lieberman said research suggested that people took one of three approaches to carrying out tasks.

Those with a mastery approach want to understand as much as they can about what they are doing. They are not so concerned if they fail because they feel they have learnt from the attempt.

Those with a performance approach want to do as well as possible and may abandon the task for another if they fear they are failing.

Those with a performance avoidance approach do the minimum to achieve a reasonable standard, trying to avoid performing badly rather than performing well.

The Stirling team will issue questionnaires to 700 psychology students at their beginning of the course to determine their approaches. At the end of their course, students will be quizzed on how much they enjoyed it.

Stirling attracts psychology students from both arts and science backgrounds. The team hopes to see whether or not the two have different levels of enjoyment.

The research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

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