It’s boring I won’t do that : State and Trait boredom predicting students’ career aspirations

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2017
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Paper presented at AERA 2017 Annual Meeting
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Theoretical Framework and Objectives. Students’ career aspirations are important outcome variables in the school context. Whereas the influence of cognitive variables on these aspirations is well investigated (e.g., Gottfredson, 2003), the role of emotions is still not well understood. With respect to both cognitive and affective variables, theoretical and empirical evidence suggests that habitual (trait) reports have a greater impact on distal outcomes, such as career aspirations, compared to situational (state) reports. This may be due to the fact that trait reports are influenced by semantic, generalized knowledge and strongly reflect individuals’ subjective beliefs about their past experiences (Kahneman et al., 1993; Robinson & Clore, 2002). The present study examines central cognitive and affective variables in a school context, namely challenge and boredom, with the latter being the most frequently experienced emotion at school (e.g., Goetz & Hall, 2014). As previous research deemed non-optimal challenge as an important antecedent of boredom (Mercer-Lynn et al., 2014), we hypothesize that boredom mediates the effects of being over- and unchallenged on career aspirations. Additionally, we hypothesize that trait reports of challenge and boredom have a stronger impact on career aspirations than state reports. Data and Methods. The sample consisted of N = 1.222 high-school students (grade 9 and 10) from 56 classes. Discrete trait boredom in mathematics, subject-specific trait challenge, and career aspirations regarding mathematics-related fields were assessed via a trait questionnaire. Additionally, we used an experience-sampling approach, in which we assessed students’ state emotions and state perceived challenge after each mathematics lesson for three consecutive weeks. Multilevel SEM analyses with Mplus 7.11 (Muthén & Muthén, 1998-2012) were conducted to investigate the direct and indirect effect of trait challenge on career aspirations while taking the clustered data structure (students within classes) into account. This mediation was also tested with the state data accounting for the special data structure (within-measures of challenge and boredom, predicting between-measures of career aspirations). Results and Discussion. In line with our assumption, boredom mediated the effects of being over- and unchallenged on career aspirations. This mediation occurred for the trait as well as state assessment with the effects being stronger for the former one. More specifically, we found negative direct (βdirect = -.18, p < .001) and indirect effects (βindirect = -.27, p < .01 for being unchallenged, βindirect = -.06, p < .001 for being overchallenged) of trait boredom in mathematics on students’ career aspirations. This pattern was also revealed for the state data (βdirect = -.07, p < .005; βindirect = -.02, p < .05 for being unchallenged, βindirect = -.04, p < .05 for being overchallenged), but with smaller effect sizes. The trait model explains 25.3% of variance in career aspirations, whereas the state model explains only 7.8%. The results of our study support the key role of boredom arising from non-optimal challenge for career aspirations and demonstrate higher predictive power of trait reports (Schuster et al., 2016; Wirtz et al., 2003). Theoretical and practical implications will be discussed, along with directions for future inquiry.

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370 Erziehung, Schul- und Bildungswesen
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AERA 2017 Annual Meeting, 27. Apr. 2017 - 1. Mai 2017, San Antonio, TX
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ISO 690KRANNICH, Maike, Thomas GÖTZ, Anastasiya A. LIPNEVICH, Anna-Lena ROOS, 2017. It’s boring I won’t do that : State and Trait boredom predicting students’ career aspirations. AERA 2017 Annual Meeting. San Antonio, TX, 27. Apr. 2017 - 1. Mai 2017. In: Paper presented at AERA 2017 Annual Meeting
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    <dcterms:abstract xml:lang="eng">Theoretical Framework and Objectives. Students’ career aspirations are important outcome variables in the school context. Whereas the influence of cognitive variables on these aspirations is well investigated (e.g., Gottfredson, 2003), the role of emotions is still not well understood. With respect to both cognitive and affective variables, theoretical and empirical evidence suggests that habitual (trait) reports have a greater impact on distal outcomes, such as career aspirations, compared to situational (state) reports. This may be due to the fact that trait reports are influenced by semantic, generalized knowledge and strongly reflect individuals’ subjective beliefs about their past experiences (Kahneman et al., 1993; Robinson &amp; Clore, 2002). The present study examines central cognitive and affective variables in a school context, namely challenge and boredom, with the latter being the most frequently experienced emotion at school (e.g., Goetz &amp; Hall, 2014). As previous research deemed non-optimal challenge as an important antecedent of boredom (Mercer-Lynn et al., 2014), we hypothesize that boredom mediates the effects of being over- and unchallenged on career aspirations. Additionally, we hypothesize that trait reports of challenge and boredom have a stronger impact on career aspirations than state reports. Data and Methods. The sample consisted of N = 1.222 high-school students (grade 9 and 10) from 56 classes. Discrete trait boredom in mathematics, subject-specific trait challenge, and career aspirations regarding mathematics-related fields were assessed via a trait questionnaire. Additionally, we used an experience-sampling approach, in which we assessed students’ state emotions and state perceived challenge after each mathematics lesson for three consecutive weeks. Multilevel SEM analyses with Mplus 7.11 (Muthén &amp; Muthén, 1998-2012) were conducted to investigate the direct and indirect effect of trait challenge on career aspirations while taking the clustered data structure (students within classes) into account. This mediation was also tested with the state data accounting for the special data structure (within-measures of challenge and boredom, predicting between-measures of career aspirations). Results and Discussion. In line with our assumption, boredom mediated the effects of being over- and unchallenged on career aspirations. This mediation occurred for the trait as well as state assessment with the effects being stronger for the former one. More specifically, we found negative direct (βdirect = -.18, p &lt; .001) and indirect effects (βindirect = -.27, p &lt; .01 for being unchallenged, βindirect = -.06, p &lt; .001 for being overchallenged) of trait boredom in mathematics on students’ career aspirations. This pattern was also revealed for the state data (βdirect = -.07, p &lt; .005; βindirect = -.02, p &lt; .05 for being unchallenged, βindirect = -.04, p &lt; .05 for being overchallenged), but with smaller effect sizes. The trait model explains 25.3% of variance in career aspirations, whereas the state model explains only 7.8%. The results of our study support the key role of boredom arising from non-optimal challenge for career aspirations and demonstrate higher predictive power of trait reports (Schuster et al., 2016; Wirtz et al., 2003). Theoretical and practical implications will be discussed, along with directions for future inquiry.</dcterms:abstract>
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