Students’ motivational beliefs about learning physical science are critical for achieving positive educational outcomes. In this study, we incorporated expectancy-value theory to capture the heterogeneity of adolescents’ motivational trajectories in physics and chemistry from seventh to twelfth grade and linked these trajectories to science-related outcomes. We used a cross-sequential design based on three different cohorts of adolescents (N = 699; 51.5 % female; 95 % European American; Mages for youngest, middle, and oldest cohorts at the first wave = 13.2, 14.1, and 15.3 years) coming from ten public secondary schools. Although many studies claim that physical science motivation declines on average over time, we identified seven differential motivational trajectories of ability self-concept and task values, and found associations of these trajectories with science achievement, advanced science course taking, and science career aspirations. Adolescents’ ability self-concept and task values in physics and chemistry were also positively related and interlinked over time. Examining how students’ motivational beliefs about physical science develop in secondary school offers insight into the capacity of different groups of students to successfully adapt to their changing educational environments.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)