are capable of achieving the task at hand (Schunk and Zimmerman, 2006; Schunk and Pajares, 2009), when they believe that intelligence is changeable rather than fixed (Dweck and Master, 2009), and when they are interested in the learning task (Schiefele, 2009). There is promising evidence that these kinds of beliefs, expectancies, goals, and interests can be fostered in learners by, for example, peer modeling techniques (Schunk, Pintrich, and Meece, 2008) and through the interventions described in Chapter 4 (Yaeger and Walton, 2011). Elementary school students showed increased self-efficacy for solving subtraction problems and increased test performance after watching a peer demonstrate how to solve subtraction problems while exhibiting high self-efficacy (such as saying, “I can do that one” or “I like doing these”) versus control conditions (Schunk and Hanson, 1985). As discussed in Chapter 4, research has shown that, in a responsive social setting, learners can adopt the criteria for competence they see in others and then use this information to judge and perfect the adequacy of their own performance (National Research Council, 2001).

Although informal learning environments are often designed to tap into learners’ own, intrinsic motivations for learning, they can also prime and extend this motivation. For example, to prime motivation and support deeper learning in structured informal science learning environments (e.g., zoos, aquariums, museums, and science centers), research suggests that science programs and exhibits should

  • be interactive;
  • provide multiple ways for learners to engage with concepts, practices, and phenomena within a particular setting; and
  • prompt and support participants to interpret their learning experiences in light of relevant prior knowledge, experiences, and interests (National Research Council, 2009a, p. 307).

Similarly, research suggests that to prime learners’ motivation for the difficult task of learning science through inquiry, simulations and games should provide explanatory guidance, feedback, and scaffolding; incorporate an element of narrative or fantasy; and allow a degree of user control without allowing pure, open-ended discovery (National Research Council, 2011b).

Using Formative Assessment

The formative assessment concept (discussed further below) emphasizes the dynamic process of using assessment evidence to continually improve student learning; this is in contrast to the concept of summative assessment, which focuses on development and implementation of an instrument to

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