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Students’ motivation frequently fluctuates during a semester. However, it is often difficult for instructors to determine the specific situation under which these changes occur and their academic impact. Furthermore, classroom research in the area is scarce. Utilizing multiple analytic procedures to analyze the responses of 34 students in an upper-division Theories of Personality psychology course, the current study examined changes in expectancy (“Can I do this task?”) as a function of instructor involvement and the effect of expectancy changes on exam performance and test anxiety. Expectancy declined from one teacher-involved action to the next. However, changes in expectancy had no impact on exam performance and test anxiety. These findings confirm that students’ motivation is sensitive to classroom situations and clarify the influence of motivation changes on academic outcomes. The study reveals the importance of carefully considering the nature of the classroom situation when seeking to effect positive motivation changes.
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