Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Beyond IQ series: An overview of the Model of Academic Competence and Motivation (MACM)

Interest in social-emotional learning and resiliency training (click here and here for just two examples) in education has shown a recent uptick on activity. Given this activity, IQs Corner is starting a series to explain the previously articulated Model of Academic Competence and Motivation (MACM), which was a model ahead of it's time (IMHO).

The imporance of non-cognitive (conative) characteristics in learning have been articulated since the days of Spearman, the father of the construct of general intelligence. Richard Snow's work on the concept of "aptitude," which integrates cognitive and conative individual difference variables, is the foundation of the Beyond IQ MACM. Non-cognitive (cognitive) characteristics of learners are important for learning and are more manipulable (more likely to be modified via intervention) than intelligence. Thus, the MACM components make sense as potential levers for improving school learning and pursuing more well rounded life-long learners.

This material comes a larger set of materials on the web (click here).

This current (first) installment in the Beyond IQ series provides an overview of the MACM framework. All installments in this series (and other related posts and research) can be found by clicking here.


Overview of MACM framework

Although a variety of models of school learning have been articulated (see Haertel et al., 1983, for a review), it is only recently that a model with sufficient breadth and depth has emerged with the potential to serve as a “bridging” mechanism between educational and psychological theory/research and educational practice. Based on a systematic program of educational research, the integration of the extant literature (which included a review of four existing taxonomies; Snow, 1973), and an emphasis on the relatively stable constructs causally related to educational performance, Richard Snow ventured a provisional taxonomy (Corno et al., 2002; Snow, Corno & Jackson, 1996).

The figure below presents a proposed and adapted version of the Snow Academic Aptitude Model (SAAM). Although the broad strokes of the SAAM are drawn primarily from the writings of Snow and colleagues, based on a contemporary literature review, it was found necessary to modify portions of the model and/or the model’s terminology. For example, Corno et al. (2002) describe and present learning orientation under the sub-domain of motivational orientation. Most contemporary motivation research refers to this construct as academic goal orientation (see Anderman, Austin & Johnson, 2002). In this adapted and extended model the more contemporary achievement goal orientation terminology is used. Where necessary and appropriate, modifications are made to the original SAAM terminology to reflect contemporary research and writings.

(double click on image to enlarger click here)

In addition, a contemporary literature review uncovered specific behaviors and/or skills not included in the broad-stroke SAAM. These “newcomer” domains were logically placed under the SAAM category that appeared most appropriate. For example, relatively new research surrounding the construct domain of thinking dispositions (Perkins, Tishman, Ritchhart, Donis & Andrade, 2000) is related to a learner’s ability conception (Dweck, 2002).

The meaning of the MACM variables presented in the figure are amplified by the four categories of questions proposed by Wigfield and Eccles (2002).

Do I (does she/he) want to do this activity and why? Learner characteristics related to this question include, but are not limited to, achievement interests and values, intrinsic motivation, academic goal orientation, and social goals and their relations to motivation. Obviously, learners who have repeated consistent school failure would, as a group, be predicted to respond in the negative to this question.

Can I (he/she) do this activity? When pondering this question, learners reflect on a number of motivational self-beliefs (e.g., self- confidence, academic self- concept, academic self- efficacy) that have dominated social cognitive models of motivation research the past three decades. Although germane to all learners, this question is particularly salient for learners who have experienced repeated academic failure (e.g., learners with disabilities, disadvantaged learners).

What do I (does she/he) need to do to succeed? High motivation and positive self-beliefs are necessary but insufficient conditions for succeeding in educational environments. A bridge must link cognitive/academic abilities and motivation with actual behavior. The primary link is the presence of self-regulated learning strategies (e.g., study skills, cognitive and learning strategies, engagement, adaptive help-seeking) that allow individuals to manage efforts to accomplish their goal.

How do I (does he/she) need to behave towards others to succeed? Traditionally U.S. schools have valued student characteristics such as citizenship, conformity to social rules and norms, cooperation, and positive social behavior (Wentzel, 1993). The learner who does not know how (or who lacks the appropriate skills) to behave appropriately and responsibly is at increased risk for academic failure.

Finally, the recent version of the SAAM makes little mention of the domain of social ability, an ability that was touched on in earlier articulations of the SAAM (under the category of orientation towards others). As noted by Snow et al. (1996), psychologists have historically displayed a strong interest in the construct of social intelligence, which is typically defined as the ability to act wisely in interpersonal relations and being sensitive towards others (Thorndike, 1920). Educators and researchers have consistently demonstrated the importance of prosocial behavior and social skills to learner success (O'Sullivan & Guilford, 1975; Wentzel, 1989).

Social ability has two primary dimensions: “the ability to decode social information, including the ability to understand nonverbal cues and make accurate social inferences, and the ability to behave adaptively and effectively in social situations” (Snow et al., 1996, p. 278). These two dimensions roughly correspond to the cognitive (internal mental processes) and behavioral (observable behaviors) components of social functioning. As presented in the model, a cognitive-behavioral social ability distinction is made in the model.

Stay tuned......more to come...

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