Think About Thinking
Test Your motivation Skills:
Mindset, Self-Efficacy, Test Anxiety, Mastery Orientation
Keep reading through this section if you are interested in learning more about self-efficacy and the steps you can take to improve these perceptions.
You will be confident and self-assured you have the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in completing online learning activities.
You are somewhat confident you can learn, perform well, and succeed in an online environment. Alternatively, you may believe you only have the skills and knowledge to succeed on some learning tasks (e.g., writing) or in some online classes (e.g., English).
You are not very confident you have the knowledge or skills needed to succeed in most online learning situations.
Increasing your self-efficacy is about seeing success and reminding yourself that you can do it! Once Maria’s confidence began to rise, she felt less overwhelmed by her online course and was able to succeed in the online learning environment.
Learners with a Growth Mindset believe their intelligence can change with effort. They view mistakes as a normal part of learning and want to improve as they encounter challenges.
Learners with a Fixed Mindset believe their abilities cannot be changed. They struggle to move forward after making mistakes because they think these mistakes reflect their unchangeable low ability or intelligence.
Learners with a Mixed Mindset may believe their intelligence and abilities can only change for some classes, topics, or situations. They use both positive and negative learning strategies and adhere to both Growth and Fixed Mindsets for different situations.
You likely think “My intelligence can change over time with effort.”
You likely think “I can get smarter, depending on the situation.”
You likely think “My intelligence cannot change regardless of what I do.”
It took some time and support from his adviser, but Omar eventually realized that his Fixed Mindset was limiting his potential. By reframing how he viewed ability and the role of practice in improvement, he began to think more frequently about how he was learning and developed a more adaptive sense of confidence about his ability to improve and learn in school.
Goal orientation refers to the reasons why individuals engage in learning as well as their overall approach to learning. Typically, learners will exhibit either a mastery orientation or a performance orientation. Mastery learners tend to enjoy learning just for the sake of learning and are interested in developing their knowledge.
Learners with a performance orientation will typically engage in learning because they want to attain good grades, outperform others, or avoid looking incompetent. These learners tend to focus primarily on the outcome because they want to be viewed by others as capable.
Although both types of goals can motivate people, research shows that mastery goals are more helpful and useful.
You learn because you want to expand your knowledge and skills and because you simply like to learn.
You may find that you exhibit characteristics of both mastery and performance goal orientations.
You learn because you want good grades and because you want others to think you are competent.
Developing a mastery goal orientation helps people enjoy learning. The focus becomes more about putting forth effort and mastering content rather than being preoccupied with just getting good grades or presenting oneself as competent to others.
Test anxiety refers to the experience of negative thoughts (e.g. worrisome and fear-inducing thoughts), uncomfortable feelings (e.g. anxiety), and undesirable physical responses (e.g. increased heart rate) when you are evaluated. Anxiety can also occur with many different types of learning activities, not just tests.
When learners experience high anxiety, they will often feel “on edge” and avoid activities such as homework or studying. A key goal for many students is to figure out ways to better manage and control these feelings.
You rarely feel overly stressed and concerned about how you will perform on academic evaluations (e.g., tests).
You sometimes feel worried about failing tests and evaluations, or may only feel worried about some classes and topics.
You feel overly worried and scared that you will perform poorly on your assignments, projects, and/or tests.
George used strategies to help him calm his mind and feel more at ease. He felt more prepared to handle tests and other evaluations and more confident in his abilities to succeed. Although George still got nervous from time to time (as most students do), George’s experience in college was much less stressful and overwhelming.