Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Preferred Name

Aaron J. Myers

Date of Award

Spring 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Sara J. Finney

John D. Hathcoat

Kenneth E. Barron


Expectancy-value theory applied to examinee motivation suggests examinees’ perceived value of a test indirectly affects test performance via examinee effort. This empirically supported indirect effect, however, is often modeled using importance and effort scores measured after test completion, which does not align with their theoretically specified temporal order. Retrospectively measured importance and effort scores may be influenced by examinees’ test performance, impacting the estimate of the indirect effect. To investigate the effect of timing of measurement, first-year college students were randomly assigned to one of three conditions where (1) importance and effort were measured retrospectively; (2) importance was measured prospectively; and (3) importance and effort were measured prospectively. Additionally, importance and effort were measured retrospectively in conditions two and three to determine if the rank-order and average importance and effort scores change from before to after the test. The indirect effect was invariant across conditions, indicating no effect of behavioral commitment on retrospective importance and effort scores. Although the unstandardized indirect effect using prospective and retrospective importance and effort scores was invariant across conditions, the standardized indirect effect was smaller in the prospective condition. Thus, testing practitioners should be cautious when interpreting and making decisions based on the standardized indirect effect. Average latent retrospective effort scores were lower than prospective effort scores via cross-sectional analyses. Moreover, examinees completing both importance and effort measures reported lower retrospective effort than prospective effort. This decrease in effort was not related to test performance, indicating change in effort is not influenced by test performance. However, given examinees tend to decrease ratings of effort after experiencing the test, results from techniques such as motivation filtering will differ depending on when motivation is measured. Importantly, examinees primed by engaging in prospective ratings of motivation had higher average levels of test performance than examinees that did not provide prospective ratings. Although the increase in test performance was small, priming may provide a cheap intervention aimed at increasing test performance.

Available for download on Thursday, April 19, 2018