A1 Journal article – refereed

Individual interest and learning in secondary school STEM education

List of Authors: Erkka Laine, Marjaana Veermans, Andreas Gegenfurtner, Koen Veermans

Publisher: European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction EARLI

Publication year: 2020

Journal: Frontline learning research

Volume number: 8

Issue number: 2

eISSN: 2295-3159

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14786/flr.v8i2.461

URL: https://doi.org/10.14786/flr.v8i2.461


Interest research offers different hypotheses about the
association between interest and learning outcomes. The standard
hypothesis proposes that interest predicts learning outcomes: people
acquire new knowledge about a topic they find interesting. The affective
by-product hypothesis assumes that learning predicts interest: by
learning something, people develop an interest in this topic. Finally,
the reciprocal hypothesis states that interest and learning covary. This
longitudinal study aimed to test the predictive validity of these three
hypotheses in the context of secondary school STEM education. The
participants were 104 Finnish 7th grade students aged 12-14. Data were
collected at three times during the school year through questionnaires
and grade evaluations in mathematics and biology. A partial least
squares (PLS) path modeling approach was used to determine the
relationships between interest and course grades across the three
measurement points: at the beginning of the autumn semester, at the
beginning of the spring semester, and after the spring semester at the
end of the school year. The results differed between the autumn and
spring semesters: During the autumn semester, students’ interest
predicted their grades, whereas during the spring semester, grades
predicted their interest. These findings indicate that the relationships
between students’ individual interest towards science and mathematics
with learning vary. As a practical implication, more focus should be put
on when and what type of performance feedback is given to students with
differing interest profiles.

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