Academic Values:  Implications
Although a complete understanding of why students come to value different academic activities and domains is illusive (Brophy, 1999), the available research (Eccles, 2005; Graham & Taylor, 2002; Wigfield, 1994; Wigfield and Eccles, 1992) suggests the following implications:
  • Academic values impact achievement outcomes via the choices students make to become engaged (or not engaged) in certain tasks or domains.  Even students who are competent in a domain may choose not to engage in a learning activity if it has no personal value.
  • The development of positive competence beliefs, vis-à-vis success during learning activities, is important for the formation of positive values toward learning tasks and activities.  That is, academic success increases the probability of the student placing greater value on the specific academic domain or class of activities.
  • Although longitudinal research on the development of academic values is limited, the available research suggests that educators and adults should be sensitive to the fact that even during the early elementary grades, students begin differentiating between academic competence beliefs and academic values.  As children move through the grades, specific task values in the academic domain become more differentiated and crystallized.
  • Although the motivational constructs of academic goal orientation and academic values both focus on a student’s purpose for differential engagement in academic activities and domains, these two related constructs have been demonstrated to be empirically distinct.  In general, the development and enhancement of intrinsic positive academic values increases the probability that a student will adopt a more adaptive mastery goal orientation.  In contrast, students who, via their learning experiences, start to value tasks or activities for utilitarian reasons, tend to adopt the less desirable academic performance goal orientation. 
  • Research suggests that the influence of academic values on learning may not be immediate.  Values may exert their influence on achievement indirectly via student.  When a student values a particular academic activity or domain, they tend to study more diligently and effectively.  Furthermore, students who have “synchronized” academic values (i.e., positive intrinsic reasons for engaging across academic domains) demonstrate higher academic motivation than students with asynchronous academic values (i.e., high intrinsic interest in some domains coupled with only a utilitarian value in other domains).
  • Although the research literature is limited, academic values are hypothesized to play a role in adaptive self-regulated learning, particularly during the pre-engagement phase of planning and preliminary decision-   making.  The role of academic values in self- regulation is believed to be more significant for older versus younger students.
  • Classroom learning activities that are personally meaningful, more authentic, and tied to the student’s “real-world,” are suggested as contributing to the development of positive academic values toward such learning activities.  Furthermore, depressed academic values have been associated with lowered performance-based environmental expectations and feedback.
  • Related to the construct of locus of control, students may place less value on effort and academic success if they perceive that external factors (outside of their personal control) are capable of affecting their educational or long-term occupational outcomes.
  • It is believed that an individuals subjective task values are not absolute, but rather, are hierarchical in nature.  An individuals within-person value hierarchy is more important, with regard to potential activity engagement, than absolute normative value comparisons with others.