How students perceive cost is an important factor when predicting academic and motivational outcomes (Perez et al., 2014) . Cost is described as the effort and sacrifices made to complete a task (Eccles et al., 1983), however, no work has investigated how anticipated cost beliefs predict experienced cost or if experienced and anticipated costs predict academic and motivational outcomes differently. Additionally, no research has been done on the relations of anticipated to experienced costs and differential relations of the two cost beliefs on academic results. In order to close these gaps, Beymer et al. aimed to understand the differences in the influence of anticipated and experienced costs on calculus students in order to inform interventions on cost beliefs. Specifically, they studied the associations between anticipated and experienced costs, the differences in  experienced and  anticipated costs in relation to course grades and STEM career intention, and to what degree experienced costs act as a mediator of the effects of anticipated cost on course grade and intention in a STEM career. 


To examine how anticipated and experienced costs affect a student’s mathematical achievements and intentions of pursuing a STEM career,  the recruited calculus students were asked to complete a pre-survey during the first two weeks of the semester that measured their expectancies and values along with anticipated cost in task effort(TE), outside effort(OE), loss of valued alternatives(LV), and emotional(EM). They were also asked to complete a diary measure for 11 weeks that was emailed to them once a week which measured the subjective experiences of students in order to determine the experience costs. Students were asked to report what they are experiencing in the calculus class and scale their TE, OE, LV, and EM costs and were asked to complete questions such as “After today’s class I feel like…” Lastly, students were asked to complete a post-survey that surveyed their intention on pursuing a STEM career. Students’  achievements were measured by a 4.0 grading scale. As a result, anticipated cost was positively associated with experienced cost and grades. Specifically, expecting a calculus course to be hard motivates the student to put in more effort in the course, and the student does well due to their effort. However, experienced cost was negatively associated with grades. Anticipated cost also predicted grades through experienced cost - anticipated cost negatively predicted experienced cost, which then negatively predicted grades. In other words, if a student had a low anticipated cost and later experienced a high cost in the course, their performance may suffer. Beymer et al. suggest that it is possible that students are less adaptive to experienced cost. For instance, when something comes up in another course, the student’s grade in the current course may suffer due to the increased experience cost. Beymer et al. suggests that it is best to intervene on experienced cost since it is less adaptable for students. 


Beymer et al’s (2023) study provides educators insight into the impact of anticipated and experienced cost on achievement and STEM career intentions. Additionally, because experienced cost is less adaptive, educators should aid and motivate students when they are facing experienced cost to continue their motivation and help them succeed. Also, the main focus of the study relates to EPIC’s study of motivating high school students when faced with setbacks in STEM. EPIC’s future study can also investigate expectations of setbacks prior to it taking place to find out more about anticipated cost and its link to failures in STEM students. 


To learn more about Beymer et al.’s (2023) study, check out the link to retrieve this article:


This post is written by Katelyn Chow. 



Beymer, P. N., Flake, J. K., & Schmidt, J. A. (2023). Disentangling students’ anticipated and experienced costs: The case for understanding both. Journal of Educational Psychology, 115(4), 624–641.

Eccles, J. S. (2005). Subjective task values and the Eccles et al. model of achievement related choices. In A. J. Elliott & C. S. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 105–121). Guilford Press.

Perez, T., Cromley, J. G., & Kaplan, A. (2014). The role of identity development, values, and costs in college STEM retention. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(1), 315–329.