Date of Award

12-1990

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Malott

Second Advisor

Dr. Dale Brethower

Third Advisor

Dr. Jack Michael

Fourth Advisor

Dr. LeRoi Ray

Abstract

The purpose of the research was to evaluate the effects of accountability procedures on the productivity of performance managers in an academic support program. The contractors were responsible for supporting the academic performance of high-risk students enrolled in a one-credit-hour self-management course. The contractors awarded students points that counted toward their self-management course grade when the students produced assignments of value in their content courses. Prior research had shown that students sometimes performed poorly in the self-management course and that the contractors were often unsuccessful in helping these students improve their grades. Consequently, the experimenter speculated that the amount of time effectively spent by the contractors to help high-risk students would increase if a portion of their grades were based on the grades of the students they supervised.

In Experiments 1 and 2, the performance of the contractors did not improve systematically when part of their grade was based on students' grades. Although the contractors had been instructed in appropriate techniques to use to help the students, the motivational operation (basing part of the contractor's grade on the grades of their students) was not sufficient. In Experiment 3, contractors were provided with a list of alternatives that detailed what they should do when a student's grade was below standard; and the contractors earned points toward their own grade when they implemented these procedures. This method substantially and systematically improved the performance of the contractors. Thus, the specific description of contractor behaviors plus a grading system based on points earned for engaging in the behaviors was sufficient to alter contractor behavior, suggesting that the deficit in contractor performance was not motivational but due to a deficit in task specification.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Psychology Commons

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