Academic Goals and Learning Quality in Higher Education Students

Article excerpt

In this paper, the relations between academic goals and various indicators that define the quality of the learning process are analyzed. The purpose was to determine to what extent high, moderate, or low levels of academic goals were positively or negatively related to effort regulation, the value assigned to academic tasks, meta-cognitive self-regulation, self-efficacy, beliefs about learning control, and management of time and study environment. The investigation was carried out with a sample of 632 university students (70% female and 30% male) and mean age of 21.22 (SD=2.2).The results show that learning goals, or task orientation, are positively related to all the indictors of learning quality considered herein. Although for other kinds of goals-work-avoidance goals, performance-approach goals, and performance-avoidance goals-significant relations were not found with all the indicators, there was a similar tendency of significant results in all cases; the higher the levels of these goals, the lower the levels of the indicators of learning quality.

Keywords: academic goals, learning quality, higher education

En este trabajo se analizan las relaciones de las metas académicas con varios indicadores que definen la calidad del proceso de aprendizaje. Se trata de comprobar hasta qué punto el tener niveles altos, moderados o bajos en las metas académicas se relaciona positiva o negativamente en la regulación del esfuerzo, en el valor asignado a las tareas académicas, en la autorregulación metacognitiva, en la autoeficacia, en las creencias de control y en la gestión del tiempo y ambiente de estudio. La investigación se llevó a cabo con una muestra de 632 estudiantes universitarios (70% mujeres y 30% hombres) con una edad media de 21.22 (SD=2.2). Los resultados encontrados demuestran que las learning goals, o de aproximación a la tarea, se encuentran relacionadas positivamente con todos los indicadores de calidad del aprendizaje contemplados. En los otros tipos de metas-work-avoidance goals, performance-approach goals and performanceavoidance goals-, aún no habiendo una relación significativa con todos los indicadores, la tendencia de los resultados significativos es la misma en todos los casos, cuanto más altos son los niveles de estas metas, más bajos son los niveles indicadores de calidad del aprendizaje.

Palabras clave: metas académicas, calidad del aprendizaje, educación superior

The concept of Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) integrates research on learning strategies, meta-cognition, learning goals, and, obviously, students' motivation (Lens & Vansteenkiste, 2008; Valle et al., 2007). Therefore, SRL can be defined as an active process in which students establish the goals that direct their learning, attempting to monitor, regulate, and control their cognitions, motivation, and behaviors in order to achieve these goals.

The studies from cognitive psychology were concerned with the analysis of the strategies used by students in the acquisition, storing, and recall of information, and the differences between "experts" and "novices" in these strategies, without taking motivational variables into account (students as motivationally inert subjects). On the other hand, the studies on motivational variables conceived of students as cognitively empty (Pintrich, Brown, & Weinstein, 1994). Although some precursor studies with an integrative conception of the cognitive and motivational variables can be found in the 70s with Bloom's theory of learning, in the 80s and the 90s, both lines of research merge. Interest is aroused because of the results of various studies in which it is observed that motivation affects the cognitive functions and that, in turn, training in cognitive strategies affects certain motivational variables such as self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, etc. (e.g., Dweck, 1986). This aspect is especially assumed with the studies of Paul Pintrich and his collaborators, who begin to integrate both components within the framework of SRL. …