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Book Chapter

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Book Summary: Interest in Mathematics and Science Learning is the first volume to assemble findings on the role of interest in mathematics and science learning. As the contributors illuminate across the volume’s 22 chapters, interest provides a critical bridge between cognition and affect in learning and development. This volume will be useful to educators, researchers, and policy makers, especially those whose focus is mathematics, science, and technology education.

Chapter Summary: The primary purpose of this chapter is to explore the process whereby students transition from a short-term, situational interest in mathematics or science to a more enduring individual interest in which they incorporate performance in mathematics or science into their self-definitions (e.g. "I am a scientist"). We do so by examining the research related to domain identification, which is the extent to which students define themselves through a role or performance in a domain, such as mathematics or science. Understanding the process of domain identification is important because it can contribute to an understanding of how individual interest develops over time. The means through which students become highly domain identified involves many factors that are internal (e.g. goals and beliefs) and external (e.g. family environment and educational experiences) to them. Students who are more identified with an academic domain tend to demonstrate increased motivation, effort, perseverance (when faced with failure), and achievement. Importantly, students with lower domain identification tend to demonstrate less motivation, lower effort, and fewer desirable outcomes. Student outcomes in a domain can reciprocally influence domain identification by reinforcing or altering it. This feedback loop can help explain incremental changes in motivation, self-concept, individual interest, and, ultimately, important outcomes such as achievement, choice of college major, and career path. This dynamic model presents possible mechanisms for influencing student outcomes. Furthermore, assessing students' domain identification can allow practitioners to intervene to prevent undesirable outcomes. Finally, we present research on how mathematics and science instructors could use the principles of the MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation to enhance students' domain identification, by (a) empowering students, (b) demonstrating the usefulness of the domain, (c) supporting students' success, (d) triggering students' interests, and (e) fostering a sense of caring and belonging. We conclude that by using the MUSIC model, instructors can intentionally design educational experiences to help students progress from a situational interest to one that is more enduring and integrated into their identities.

Required Publisher's Statement

Original version is available from the publisher, the American Educational Research Association.