Isaac Scientific Publishing

Journal of Advances in Education Research

Situational Interest and Actualized Individual Interest: Two Problematic Constructs

Download PDF (171.7 KB) PP. 110 - 112 Pub. Date: August 14, 2019

DOI: 10.22606/jaer.2019.43002


  • David Palmer*
    School of Education, University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia


Interest is currently thought to be an important construct that it can influence student
motivation. It has widely been recognized that there are long-term and short-term forms of interest
(often referred to as individual interest and situational interest, respectively), but it has not always
been recognized that these may interact. For example, the term actualized individual interest can be
used to refer to the arousal of interest that occurs when educational material aligns with one’s preexisting
individual interest. This form of interest is important because it results in high level and
persistent engagement in learning, yet it is not a widely studied phenomenon. The purpose of the
present commentary is to bring attention to this important construct, with the aim of promoting
conversation among researchers.


individual interest, situational interest


[1] J. G. Cromley, T. Perez, and A. Kaplan (2015), Undergraduate STEM achievement and retention: Cognitive, motivational, and institutional factors and solutions. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1- 8.

[2] N. B. Dohn (2013), Situational interest in engineering design activities. International Journal of Science Education, 35, 2057-2078.

[3] M. Durik and K. L. Matarazzo (2009), Revved up or turned off? How domain knowledge changes the relationship between perceived task complexity and task interest. Learning and Individual Differences, 19, 155- 159.

[4] A. M. Durik, S. McGee, L. Huber, and J. Witers (2011, September), Curiosity, exploration, and the moderating role of individual interest. Poster presented at ESERA 2011, the Biennial Conference of the European Science Education Research Association, Lyon, France.

[5] M. J. Gruber, B. D. Gelman, and C. Ranganath (2014), States of curiosity modulate hippocampus-dependent learning via the dopaminergic circuit. Neuron, 84, 486-496.

[6] S. Hidi (1990), Interest and its contribution as a mental resource for learning. Review of Educational Research, 60, 549-571.

[7] S. Hidi and J. M. Harackiewicz (2000), Motivating the academically unmotivated: A critical issue for the 21st Century. Review of Educational Research, 70, 151-179.

[8] S. Hidi and K. A. Renninger (2006), The four-phase model of interest development. Educational Psychologist, 41, 111-127.

[9] A. Krapp (2002), Structural and dynamic aspects of interest development: Theoretical considerations from an ontogenetic perspective. Learning and Instruction, 12, 383-409.

[10] L. Linnenbrink-Garcia, K. J. Pugh, K. L. Koskey, and V. C. Stewart (2012), Developing conceptual understanding of natural selection: The role of interest, efficacy, and basic prior knowledge. Journal of Experimental Education, 80, 45-68.

[11] A. V. Maltese, C. S. Melki and H. Wiebke (2014), The nature of experiences responsible for the generation and maintenance of interest in STEM. Science Education, 98, 937-962.

[12] A. Randler and F. X. Bogner (2007), Pupils’ interest before, during, and after a curriculum dealing with ecological topics and its relationship to achievement. Educational Research and Evaluation, 13, 463-478.

[13] K. A. Renninger and S. Hidi (2011), Revisiting the conceptualization, measurement, and generation of interest. Educational Psychologist, 46, 168-184.

[14] K. A. Renninger and S. Hidi (2016), The power of interest for motivation and engagement. New York, NY: Routledge.

[15] J. I. Rotgans and H. K. Schmidt (2017), Interest development; Arousing situational interest affects the growth trajectory of individual interest. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 49, 175-184.

[16] U. Schiefele (1999), Interest and learning from text. Scientific Studies of Reading, 3, 257-279.

[17] S. Swarat, A. Ortony, and W. Revelle (2012), Activity matters: Understanding student interest in school science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49, 515-537.

[18] A. Tapola, M. Veermans, and M. Niemivirta (2013), Predictors and outcomes of situational interest during a science learning task. Instructional Science, 41, 1047-1064.

[19] D. B. Thoman, J. A. Arizaga, J. L. Smith, T. S. Story, and G. Soncuya (2014), The grass is greener in nonscience, technology, engineering, and math classes: Examining the role of competing belonging to undergraduate women’s vulnerability to being pulled away from science. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 38, 246–258.

[20] R. Trend (2005), Individual, situational and topic interest in geoscience among 11- and 12-year-old children. Research Papers in Education, 20, 271-302.