The More, The Better?: Examining Choice and Self-regulated Learning Strategies
Iyengar and Lepper (2000) suggested the choice overload hypothesis, that for academic tasks there is a critical point where too many choices may have a negative effect, but they did not consider any moderating factors that may influence the effects of choice (Pintrich, 2003). This experimental study addressed this issue by closely modeling Iyengar and Lepper’s study. College students were asked to complete a self-regulated learning strategies questionnaire, and they were randomly assigned to either 30 different sets of course ideas (i.e., the excessive choice condition) or six different sets of course ideas (i.e., the moderate choice condition) to choose from for a course assignment. The results showed that students who received 30 sets of course ideas reported higher intrinsic motivation (i.e., perceived competence, interest, and value) than students who received six sets of course ideas, which was the opposite pattern of Iyengar and Lepper’s study. In a second analysis, involving students’ self-regulated learning strategies as a moderating factor, there was a marginally significant interaction effect between the amount of choice and self-regulated learning strategies on task performance. Specifically, self-regulated learning strategies were not effective in assisting students to choose one among 30 sets of course ideas; they contributed to having lower levels of task performance. The study concludes with a discussion of the findings and implications for future research on the effects of choice.