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Within-Learner Affective Changes and Relationships with Skill Learning Open Access

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Skill learning research typically approaches the question of affect in self-regulated learning through a static, between-persons perspective. Such research also focuses on affect as a source of information from abstract, self-focused cognitions (e.g., self-competence). However, a large body of evidence in affective sciences and an emerging body of evidence in the organizational sciences indicate that individuals often construct affective experiences psychologically using information not about one’s self-concept, but about the environment in which the individual is embedded. This perspective emphasizes the importance of affective changes within-individuals and that individuals tend to experience a small set of qualitatively different patterns of such changes. This dissertation elucidates the role of within-learner affective changes in skill learning, which is accomplished by integrating affective evaluative space theory with motivated action theory. Results (N = 213) from multidimensional item response theory and latent change score modeling indicated: (1) affective responses coupled with cues in the learner’s environment (i.e., contextualized affective experiences) were explained by two dimensions of approach and avoid, (2) learners experienced changes in contextualized approach and avoid affect from pre- to post-training, (3) skill learning was highest when learners experienced reciprocal patterns of contextualized affect change where, either avoid affect became more activated and approach affect became more inhibited, or approach affect became more activated and avoid affect became more inhibited. These findings suggest the role of affect in skill learning is more complex than previously considered and that future work should seek to understand affect and skill learning as a dynamic process unfolding over time.

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