Kelsey Chamberlin: A mixed-methods approach to exploring the impact of grades on academic motivation at three North American universities.
Grades may support or undermine intrinsic and autonomous motivation for learning. Although the impact of grades has been examined in schools, few studies have been conducted in universities, and no studies have qualitatively explored student’s subjective experience with grades. Here we experimentally examined the effect of grades at three universities that differed in educational environment, and explored students’ experience with grades through interviews at one university. Using a survey, we compared the effects of four priming conditions (1. grade-prime alone, 2. grade-prime and autonomy-prime, 3. grade-prime and control-prime, or 4. no-prime) on academic motivation. Our results showed that intrinsic and autonomous motivation decreased when students were given the grade-prime and control-prime compared to the grade-prime alone, whereas students given the grade-prime and autonomy-prime reported higher intrinsic motivation. The grade-prime on its own did not affect motivation. The effect of the priming conditions was influenced by student GPA, and field of study. The interviews revealed students’ experiences with grades can support and frustrate the three basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness that are necessary antecedents to intrinsic and autonomous motivation. The results of this study suggest that providing autonomy-support is important in maintaining intrinsic and autonomous motivation. Furthermore, the broader educational environment and individual differences such as past experiences with grades may affect the impact of grades on motivation. Thus, to enhance academic engagement, universities should carefully design pedagogical practices and grading schemes to temper the possible negative effects of grades on intrinsic motivation.
Deryn LeDuke: The hippocampus is not necessary for cued location or discriminative cue memory in a novel two-platform water task in rats
One of the primary structures involved in memory consolidation is the hippocampus (HPC). The HPC has been previously linked to the consolidation of discriminative cue and spatial memory (Sutherland et al., 1983; McDonald & White, 1995). One of the tools used to study place learning in animal models is called the Morris water task (MWT) (Morris, RG., 1984). The role of the hippocampus in response to visual/spatial cues that are in conjunction or competition with each other in the MWT remains ambiguous. The focus of this study is to determine the role of the hippocampus in these types of memory in a novel interpretation of the MWT. Two platforms were placed in a circular pool, colored either black or striped. Half the animals were given lesions of the complete hippocampus (>80%). Following recovery, animals were trained to escape the pool by means of one platform while avoiding the other. After training, platforms were shifted to either neutral positions in the pool, or they were shifted to opposite positions. HPC lesion animals and control animals both choose the incorrect platform in the opposite shift- exhibiting evidence of place learning without the hippocampus. In the neutral shift, control animals swam randomly to either platform. The behavior of the animals in the neutral shift could be due to a phenomenon known as “global remapping” (Witharana et al., 2016). This study ultimately provides insight into the role of the hippocampus in the control of behavior, and provides evidence to modern theories of hippocampal function.