Date of Award

8-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Robert L. Williams

Committee Members

Christopher Skinner, R. Steve McCallum, John Malone

Abstract

The study examined the effects of two conditions—task choice and reward—on 1) performance during a treatment phase and 2) performance and voluntary engagement after treatment conditions were removed. Voluntary engagement was measured during a continuous-choice activity during which students chose between math tasks and distractor tasks for 10 min. During the treatment phase, students assigned to the Choice conditions were given a choice of math worksheet types, whereas students in the No-Choice conditions were assigned a math worksheet type. Additionally, students worked under either a performance-contingent bonus point condition or a no bonus condition. During treatment, students completed one of two addition worksheets for a 5-min period and answered one question related to perception of choice regarding the task at the end of the assignment. In pretest, posttest, and followup phases, students participated in a 5-min math performance activity and a 10-min continuous-choice activity.

A repeated measures analysis of covariance mixed design (with treatment phases as the repeated measure and choice condition and reward condition as between-subjects variables) was used in the analysis of both math performance and voluntary engagement in math activity. Neither voluntary engagement nor math performance was significantly affected by the treatment conditions. However, visual inspection of plots of the data indicate high levels of voluntary engagement during the posttest phase for students who received both the provision of choice and performance-based bonus points during the treatment phase, followed by students who received the provision of choice with no external reward. Visual inspection indicates that students who received bonus points and no choice of assignments showed the highest levels of performance while treatment conditions were in place (followed by students who received the provision of both bonus points and choice) and on the short-term posttest measure. The data tentatively suggest an additive effect of bonus points and choice on voluntary engagement measures. Students who received neither the provision of choice nor bonus points displayed the lowest levels of performance on almost all measures.

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