The effects of a simulation career game on the achievement motivation of vocational students enrolled in developmental arithmetic

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Virginia Tech


The motivational development of students is a concern of the public and community college educators. Educators are challenged to provide instruction to nontraditional students who often lack adequate motivation for success in traditional programs. Therefore, educational experiences for the nontraditional student must consider their motivational needs.

This study examined the effects of a career simulation game upon the math achievement of post secondary students enrolled in developmental arithmetic. Effects of the simulation experience upon student perceived instrumentality were examined with a pretest-posttest comparison group research design. The criterion measure, math achievement, was examined with the posttest-only control group design utilizing a two by two by two factorial design. The factors included in this design were achievement motive orientation (success and avoidant), perceived instrumentality (high and low) and game participation (treatment and comparison groups). Students were assigned to achievement motive orientation and perceived instrumentality groups based upon their scores on the Student Plans Questionnaire, the Test Anxiety Questionnaire, and The 1969 Achieving Tendency Scale for Males. However, students were randomly selected and assigned to experimental and comparison groups of the factorial design. Math achievement was measured by the Basic Skills in Arithmetic Test (Wrinkle, Sanders, and Kendel, 1973) while perceived instrumentality was measured by the Student Plans Questionnaire.

The experimental groups participated in a career simulation game consisting of on-the~job math problems, a job selection activity, and a career ladder graphic for five selected units of the self instructional course. After completing career related problems, students selected a first, second, and third job choice from a list of job descriptions provided on the job selection sheet. The job choice was earned by satisfying the unit test grade requirement which was recorded by the student on a graphic representation of the career ladder.

Students in the sample consisted of those anticipating enrollment in certificate and degree level occupational-technical programs and students not formally seeking career training. The sample size numbered eighty-two. These students were enrolled in the individualized arithmetic courses at John Tyler Community College, Chester, Virginia.

Data analysis of perceived instrumentality used the t test statistic. The difference scores, obtained by subtracting pretest and posttest scores, were compared between the treatment and comparison groups. However, there was no difference between the mean perceived instrumentality scores of the treatment and comparison groups.

Math achievement was analyzed via three way analysis of covariance. Previous studies indicated that age, math placement test scores, and high school grade point average may effect student performance in developmental mathematics. These variables, therefore, were used as covariates. Three hypotheses forming on effects and four hypotheses associated with interactions were retained. Specifically, there was no main effect in math achievement because of game participation, perceived instrumentality levels or achievement motive orientation levels. Examination of one hypothesis indicated an interaction at the .038 level between game participation and perceived instrumentality. This interaction indicated that students who did not participate in the career simulation game with high perceived instrumentality scores received lower grades than those with low perceived instrumentality scores. In addition, game participants with high perceived instrumentality received higher grades than those with low perceived instrumentality. The remaining null hypotheses tested were retained.