Publications & Resources

On Cognitive Abilities and Motivational Processes in Students’ Science Engagement and Achievement: A Multidimensional Approach to Achievement Validation

Jul 2002

Shun Lau, Robert W. Roeser, and Haggai Kupermintz

This study examined how cognitive and motivational factors jointly contributed to science achievement, engagement, and choice of science-related majors and careers in a sample of 491 high school students. Students completed cognitive and motivational measures in three different sessions: (a) a survey of motivational processes, including competence beliefs, task values, and behavioral engagement in the science classroom; (b) assessments of fluid, crystallized, and spatial abilities; and (c) a science achievement test. Results of regression analyses showed that the inclusion of motivational variables enhanced the predictive validity for science achievement. General ability was the strongest predictor of achievement outcomes, whereas motivational variables were the strongest predictors of engagement and choice. General ability had a direct effect on achievement and an indirect effect through the mediation of competence beliefs. Competence beliefs and task values had direct effects on achievement and indirect effects through the mediation of engagement. The study highlights the differential predictive validity of cognitive and motivational factors for different types of outcome and corroborates the mediational pathways linking self-system processes, action, and outcomes.

Lau, S., Roeser, R. W., & Kupermintz, H. (2002). On cognitive abilities and motivational processes in students’ science engagement and achievement: A multidimensional approach to achievement validation (CSE Report 570). Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles, National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing (CRESST).