British Journal of Educational Psychology vol:84 issue:1 pages:152-174
Background. The multidimensionality of the academic self-concept in terms of domain specificity has been well-established in previous studies whereas its multidimensionality in terms of motivational functions (the so-called affect-competence separation) needs further examination.
Aim. The present study aims at exploring differential effects of enjoyment and competence beliefs on two external validity criteria in the field of mathematics.
Sample. Data analyzed in the present study were part of a large-scale longitudinal research project. Following a five-wave design, math enjoyment, math competence beliefs, math achievement, and perceived math effort expenditure measures were repeatedly collected from a cohort of 4,724 pupils in Grades 3‒7.
Method. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) was used to test the internal factor structure of the math self-concept. Additionally, a series of nested models was tested using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) in order to examine longitudinal reciprocal interrelations between math competence beliefs and math enjoyment on the one hand, and math achievement and perceived math effort expenditure on the other.
Results. Our results showed that CFA models with separate factors for math enjoyment and math competence beliefs fit the data substantially better than models without it. Furthermore, differential relationships between both constructs and the two educational outcomes were observed. Math competence beliefs had positive effects on math achievement and negative effects on perceived math effort expenditure. Math enjoyment had (mild) positive effects on subsequent perceived effort expenditure and math competence beliefs.
Conclusion. This study provides further support for the affect-competence separation. Theoretical issues regarding adequate conceptualization and practical consequences for practitioners are discussed.