Harackiewicz portrait

Judith Harackiewicz
Photo by Michael Forster Rothbart

Date: Thursday, March 22, 2012
Place: Room 233, Strand Union Building
Time: 4 p.m.

Title: Promoting Interest and Performance in STEM Fields: The Importance of Utility Value

Sponsoring department: Psychology


Dr. Harackiewicz will discuss two recent lines of intervention research. In one, her lab tested utility value interventions with high school students in science classes and with college students in an introductory psychology class. In a second line of research, they examined the role of parents in communicating utility value to their teens, and tested an intervention intended to encourage parental communication with teens about utility value. Theoretically, this research contributes to our understanding of value transmission and interest development, and practically, this research suggests that teachers and parents can make important contributions to students’ mathematics and science learning and motivation by focusing on utility value.

About the speaker:

Dr. Harackiewicz studies human motivation, specifically intrinsic motivation, interest and achievement motivation. She studies how different kinds of performance evaluation and feedback influence an individual’s intrinsic interest in an activity. For example, she examines how achievement goals, rewards, competition and cooperation influence task enjoyment and interest, and how personality variables moderate these effects. Harackiewicz also studies motivational issues in educational psychology, particularly how goals affect the development of interest in academic subjects. Her graduate students work with her on experimental laboratory studies as well as longitudinal studies in college classes.