Expectancy- Value Theory
Group #6
Tricia Alexander, Shane Clemons, Aaron Lewis
The Expectancy Value Theory of Motivation focuses on the constructs of
ability beliefs, expectancies for success, and the components of subjective task
values. “Expectancy-value models of motivation assume that expectancy-related
beliefs and subjective task values are most directly linked to individuals’ choice,
persistence, and related achievement behaviors.” (Conley, 34) Ability beliefs refer
to the individuals’ own perceptions of how good they are at a certain task. An
individual’s ability may be compared to other students or to other tasks. Such as,
how do they compare to other students or compared to other subjects in school,
how good is the individual at reading.
Expectancy items are based on an individual’s perception of previous
experiences. For example a student who struggled in math last year may have a very
low expectancy for having success in their math class this year. Therefore, ability
beliefs focus on an individual’s present ability, whereas expectancies focus on future
abilities. The components of subjective task value include: usefulness, importance,
and interest of the item to the individual. The value placed on the specific item or
task will influence a student’s motivation. If the students believe that they will be
able to use this information outside of the classroom or that it is important in
comparison to their other activities, they will be more motivated to participate or
learn. “Expectancies and values are assumed to be influenced by task-specific beliefs
such as ability beliefs, the perceived difficulty of different tasks, and individuals’
goals, self-schema, and affective memories.” (Eccles, 69) Therefore, expectancy and
value directly affect student’s motivation to learn.
Figure 1.1 Shows a model of the Expectancy-Value theory and all of the constructs that
may affect the student’s motivation to learn.
Constructs of the expectancy-value theory directly affect learning because
student’s beliefs about how well they will do are directly related to their motivation
to learn. For example, if a student says, “If I study hard for the next test, I’m going to
do well”, they believe that they can do well on the test and choose to study. Or their
expectancy-value is high, therefore so is their motivation to learn. Beliefs about
performance may also influence a student’s behavior towards learning. “Adolescents
who expect positive consequences of working hard in class and completing
homework may have more reasons to resist misbehaving in class and getting into
fights with peers.”(Borders, 541) However, beliefs about outcomes are only a part of
how expectancy value can influence learning. A student’s belief about their
intelligence, capability, and value also influence learning. Beliefs about intelligence
can affect learning in two different ways, depending on if the student has an entity
view of intelligence or an incremental view of intelligence. If the student has an
entity view on intelligence, and they believe they are no good at math, they will have
no motivation to learn, because they believe that their intelligence is fixed and
uncontrollable. Because of this little or no learning will take place. However, if the
student has an incremental view of intelligence and they believe that their ability in
math can be improved with effort, they will be more likely to take additional steps to
make sure that they succeed. To this student failure will only mean that more
studying or effort needs to take place. Beliefs about capability, or self-efficacy, have
a very similar affect on learning but are also dependent on four factors. Self –efficacy
is related to past performance, modeling, verbal persuasion, and emotional state.
Value also has a direct affect on learning. Value can be broken down into
three different types: attainment, utility, and cost. Attainment value refers to the
importance that is attached to the task or activity. The more importance that is
placed on the task, the more learning that will take place. Utility value is the belief
that the task will be useful in your future. Again, if utility value is high a higher level
of learning will take place. Finally, cost is what a person must give up to partake in
that activity. If a student is giving up a lot to participate in a specific activity or task,
they will have a higher motivation to learn.
Parents, teachers, peers, and society influence constructs of expectancy-value
theory. Parents can influence a students beliefs, based on their past performances. If
a parent was bad at English, the child may believe that they have inherited that gene
from their parents that makes them bad at English as well. Parents may also have an
influence on how much value the student places on a specific task. For example, they
may stress the importance of getting good grades or getting a good job. The student
will then place an attainment value on those tasks. “Higher levels of job expectancy
would combine with higher levels of job importance (job expectancy x job
importance) to generate additional job-seeking behavior.” (Lynd-Stevenson, 102)
Good teachers can improve expectancy-value for students, and bad teachers
can diminish the student’s expectancy-value. By choosing to make their lessons
interesting and engaging they will help the students place value on tasks in the
classroom. Also, they can use different teaching methods to help the student believe
they can succeed. Peers can influence their self-efficacy belief, because “seeing
others deliver excellent reports can also increase your self-efficacy by raising
expectations and providing information about the way a skill should be performed”.
(Eggen, 344) Finally, societies beliefs about what a person should or should not be
able to do can influence their desire to learn. “Individuals draw from their own
experiences of what they find enjoyable. They are also grounded in what people tell them
about what is appropriate for people like them to do. Gender is one of the organizing
social categories.” (Bembenutty, 533) This is often seen in Family and Consumer
Sciences classrooms. In the past, females have assumed the role as homemaker and
were in charge of roles such as cooking and cleaning. Therefore, it is typically
females who feel dominant in these areas as well as place a high value on obtaining
these skills. However, males have much lower beliefs about their capability in these
areas and feel no value in learning these skills. There are many reasons why these
constructs develop in students, which is why it is important for teachers to be aware
of each one and adapt to meet the students needs for success.
For teachers, the Expectancy Value Theory has very real implications.
Knowing that students view their own ability as a stagnant characteristic gives
teachers the ability to head many problems and issues off before they become
serious concerns. For instance, teachers may want to find ways to break down
complex assignments such as papers that would otherwise overwhelm some
students. In this example, the teacher may have a student that believes himself to be
below par at writing papers. By breaking the paper down into more manageable
sections with deadlines for each section, the teacher may be able to show that
student that the paper really is something that he can do, and the successful
completion of the paper will give the student more confidence in his own ability
moving forward.
The expectancy of one’s own performance is only one facet of the theory.
Teachers also need to use knowledge of the value portion of the theory to design
meaningful projects that don’t appear to be simply busy work. This is a problem
experienced by the majority of subject areas, especially in advanced classes such as
calculus, literature, and AP chemistry. These classes tend to be very difficult, and
students rarely use the information learned in these classes outside of school in
their daily lives. This is where creativity and flexibility become key aspects of being
a teacher. Instructors have to know when their assignments and lessons are being
interpreted as useless, and the teacher must be willing to adjust the assignment and
explain how the assignment helps students in the future. By creating meaningful
assignments that hold a high value to the students, teachers can effectively raise the
student’s motivation by simply making the task interesting.
Works Cited
Bembenutty, H. (2008). The last word: The scholar whose
expectancy-value theory transformed the understanding of
adolescence, gender differences, and achievement: An interview
with Jacquelynne S. Eccles. Journal Of Advanced Academics, 19(3),
Borders, A., Earleywine, M., & Huey, S. J. (2004). Predicting Problem
Behaviors with Multiple Expectancies: Expanding ExpectancyValue Theory. Adolescence, 39(155), 539-550.
Conley, A. M. (2012). Patterns of motivation beliefs: Combining
achievement goal and expectancy-value perspectives. Journal Of
Educational Psychology, 104(1), 32-47.
Eccles, J., Wigfield, A. (2000) Expectancy-value Theory of
Achievement Motivation.
Eggen, P., Kauchak, D. ( 2013) Educational Psychology: Windows on
Lynd-Stevenson, R. M. (1999). Expectancy-value theory and
predicting future employment status in the young unemployed.
Journal Of Occupational And Organizational Psychology, 72(1)

Expectancy/ Value theory of Motivation Paper