A body of work has examined one of the key motivational messages used by teachers prior to high-stakes examinations, namely fear appeals. Fear appeals are persuasive messages designed to highlight the negative consequences of failure and the actions required to avoid failure. Based on models derived from the health promotion and stress appraisals literature, studies have examined how fear appeals are experienced by students and relate to important educational outcomes including motivation, emotion, engagement, and achievement. The aim of the present article was to review these studies and consider directions for future research. We propose that fear appeals represent a specific type of communicated value message that is loss-framed (i.e., focused on failure). We discuss a bidirectional model whereby fear appeals are indirectly related to educational outcomes through the way messages are evaluated by students. Educational outcomes can relate to subsequent evaluations and teacher use of messages in a reciprocal fashion. Gain-frame messages (messages focused on success), teacher-student relationships, distal background influences on message evaluations (e.g., socio-economic status), and alternative educational contexts (e.g., health professions education) are useful potential avenues for further studies to examine.
|Advances in Motivation Science
- Fear appeals
- Motivational messages
- Communicated value
- High-stakes examinations