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Session Overview
POS-7: Goals and Goal Orientation
Time: Thursday, 30/Aug/2012: 10:30am - 11:30am
Location: 0.251


Pursuing different learning agendas: Why mastery and performance goals have different effects on achievement.

Corwin Senko1, Hidetoshi Hama2

1State University of New York - New Paltz, United States of America; 2State University of New York - Buffalo, United States of America

One conundrum in achievement goal theory is that performance-approach goals (striving to demonstrate competence by outperforming peers) predict academic achievement more robustly than do mastery-approach goals (striving to develop competence) (Hulleman et al., 2010). This present research tested a recent explanation by Senko and Miles (2008), who contend that the two goals nudge students to pursue different learning agendas, with consequences to their achievement. 157 American university students completed measures of their goals and various learning strategies prior to their first exam. Results showeed that mastery-approach goals triggered an interest-based studying approach in which students allocate study time disproportionately to personally interesting material over duller material, and that this tactic undermined their exam performance. Conversely, performance-approach goals heightened students’ vigilance for cues about how to succeed, which was conducive to achievement for those who were accurate in their appraisals about which topics were most vital to study. These findings contribute to the broader discussion about when and why achievement goals affect achievement. They also provide a bridge between instructional importance theorizing and motivational variables (Broekkamp & Van Hout-Wolters, 2007).

Testing the 3 × 2 achievement goal model: Evidence regarding construct validity and nomological network

Felix C. Dinger, Oliver Dickhäuser

University of Mannheim, Germany

The 3 × 2 achievement goal model postulates that achievement goals may be differentiated according to how competence is defined, i.e. in terms of an absolute (task goals), intrapersonal (self goals), or interpersonal (other goals) standard, and according to how competence is valenced, i.e. positively (approach goals) or negatively (avoidance goals). The present research examines the construct validity and the nomological network of this recent achievement goal model in two samples consisting of high-school students and college students, respectively. Testing the convergent and discriminant validity of the 3 × 2 achievement goal questionnaire, subjects’ completed this lately developed scale as well as an established measure assessing their achievement goals within the prevalent trichotomous framework. In exploring the nomological network of the 3 × 2 achievement goal model, relations to motivational and personality characteristics were of central interest. Regarding motivational characteristics, subjects’ perceived competence, hope of success and fear of failure, as well as their naïve theory about the malleability of their capabilities were assessed. Concerning personality characteristics, subjects’ Big Five traits, perfectionism, and their tendency to procrastinate were assessed. Analyses focus especially on the task goals and self goals of the 3 × 2 achievement goal model since these have not been differentiated before, but collapsed into mastery goals. Results are discussed with regard to the utility of this differentiation.




In the last three decades, the role played by personal goals in the school context has been largely addressed, with an increasing body of knowledge revealing the complex intertwining between factors such as motivational, cognitive and affective dimensions in explaining learning. However, researchers have focused mainly on achievement goals rather than on social goals, and structured methods have been privileged. Therefore, this study aimed to examine differences in personal goals spontaneously reported by students, taking into account the role of factors such as level of generality (school in general, specific subject-matter), subject-matter (Italian, Mathematics) and class level (fourth, seventh, eleventh grade). The participants were 149 Italian students who underwent a semi-structured interview about goals related to school or to a specific subject-matter. Main results indicate that students referred mostly to mastery-approach goals, social approval from family, and social status. As regards level of generality, references to performance-approach goals and social status were more frequent for school than for a specific subject-matter. In addition, references to social affiliation were more frequent as regards Italian than Mathematics. Finally, some differences due to age emerged, mainly indicating higher frequency of goals (such as mastery-approach, social approval, and social status goals) for older students. To sum up, the present study contributes to the motivation field by focusing on students’ spontaneous representation of goals relevant to learning contexts, using qualitative instruments, i.e. interviews, as highly ecological tasks similar to those performed daily by students, thus reducing the risk of influencing spontaneity.

Are there performance goals without social others in mind?

Robert Grassinger, Markus Dresel

University Augsburg, Germany

Goal orientation theory is a fruitful approach to explain learning behaviour and performance within the social context. Conceptual a differentiation is generally made between mastery and performance goals with the orientation of approach and avoidance. Although there is considerable consensus about the conceptualization and consequences of mastery goals, components of performance goals are discussed. Some theorists assume that learners can pursue performance goals only with others’ performance in mind. Recently there is some empirical evidence that there is a further component of performance goals, a focus on ones’ own performance only and without the others in mind (Elliot et al., 2011; Grant & Dweck, 2003). The aim of the present study was to analyze the component structure for performance goals and by doing this to answer the question after the existence of performance goals without social others in mind. Confirmatory structure analyses with a dataset of 1.069 pupils (436 boys, 633 girls) attending grades 9 (mean age = 15.39, SD = 0.47) lead to a four factor model: approach with social others in mind, approach without social others in mind, avoidance with social others in mind, and avoidance without social others in mind. A further linear regression analysis shows the validity of the component of performance goals without others’ performance in mind.




The aims of this work were to study (a) the presence of achievement goals as conceptualized by the 2 X 2 model (Elliot & McGregor, 2001) in Italian students from different school levels, and (b) the relationships between goals, pleasantness, and academic performance. To measure achievement goals we used an Italian version of the Achievement Goal Questionnaire-Revised (AGQ-Revised, Elliot & Murayama, 2008). The participants were 365 fourth, seventh and eleventh graders who completed two questionnaires about two specific subject-matters, Italian and Mathematics. Each questionnaire included 12 items, three for each goal: mastery-approach (MAPG), mastery-avoidance (MAVG), performance-approach (PAPG) and performance-avoidance (PAVG). Pleasantness and academic performance were also measured. First, exploratory factor analyses were carried out: results indicated for both subject-matters the existence of three factors, relating to MAPG, MAVG and performance goals. The analyses were repeated separately for each class level, confirming the results obtained (except for Italian for the fourth graders). Secondly, repeated-measure ANOVAs were carried out, revealing that scores decreased as age increased for all goals (except for MAVG), and particularly for PAPG and PAVG. Third, regarding relationships between goals, pleasantness, and academic performance, preliminary analyses suggested significant positive correlations. This study allowed to analyse in depth such a complex issue, at a time when discrepancies from the literature highlight the need to compare achievement goals in different contexts within and between cultures. Further analyses on relationships between the considered variables could provide suggestions to teachers and educators on interventions aiming to modify negative attitudes towards learning.

Classroom goal structure and student affective outcomes: a multilevel analysis

Noémie Baudoin, Benoît Galand

Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL), Belgium

This research aims to firstly investigate by a multilevel framework the effects of the classroom goal structure on the student well-being and secondly explore the effects of the classroom goal structure on different measures of well-being (various discrete emotions and an aggregated measure). Nine hundred and ten Belgian French-speaking students (7th – 12th grade) from 55 classrooms completed a self-reported questionnaire about their emotions and their perceptions of the goals emphasized by instructional practices in their classroom and of teacher-students relationship. Results of the multilevel analysis show a positive effect of classroom performance goal structure on anger, anxiety, shame and sadness but no effect on boredom and joy. No relation between mastery goal structure and emotions was found. Lastly, results show a negative impact of teacher-students relationship on anger and boredom. This study indicates that there are different conclusions according to the way to measure the emotional well-being and underlines the importance of this choice in research about the influence of school environment on student well-being.

Effects of Personal and Contextual Achievement Goals on Academic Emotions and Achievement

Rosanda Pahljina-Reinic

University of Rijeka, Faculty of Art and Sciences, Croatia

The aim of this study was to examine the effects of a quasi-experimental contextual achievement goals (mastery, performance-approach, combined mastery/performance-approach) and personal achievement goals (work avoidance, performance/work avoidance, unmotivated and mastery cluster) on academic emotions and achievement in learning from expository text. Participants were 232 high school students. The study was performed in real classroom contexts with each class randomly assigned to one of the experimental goal condition or control condition. Goal manipulation included the induction of a goal structure of the expository text learning task by the verbal instruction. Beside the text learning task the study included assessment of a self-report personal achievement goals and learning-related emotions measures as well as the immediate and delayed assessment of the students achievement in text learning task. The obtained results suggest that both personal and contextual achievement goals exert important but also different effects on students learning outcomes. Personal achievement goals showed significant effects on students learning-related emotions but not on their achievement. The most adaptive pattern was observed for the mastery cluster showing positive emotional profile. Contextual achievement goals exert significant effects mainly on students achievement in learning from expository text supporting empirical evidence on the beneficial effects of performance-approach and multiple classroom goal structures on students achievement. These findings suggest that there is a need for separation of findings regarding contextual and personal achievement goals as well as a need for being cautious in making applications of the findings from personal achievement goals to classroom or school context.

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