A Study on Achievement Goals Determining Learning Strategies of Undergraduate College Students

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examined the students' learning strategies in relation to achievement goals. Two hundred and eight (208) female undergraduate college students completed the Achievement Goal Questionnaire and Cognitive/Metacognitive and Motivational Scalse. Findings of this study presented overall empirical support for the achievement goal theory in the context of learning strategies. Findings revealed that mastery-approach/avoidance goals were the positive significant predictors of deep processing, persistence, and effort. Performanceapproach goals were found as positive predictor of surface processing, persistence, and effort while performance avoidance goals predicted the surface processing and disorganization.

Keywords: Achievement Goals, Study Strategies, Motivation, College Students.

Sarwat Sultan*

Irshad Hussain**

Introduction

Learning and achievement are interrealed constructs in education and training. Students leam to achive certain goals specified to a particular level of education. In other words goals are standards to meaure the learning of students at a specified stage which are expected to be met by them. These goals also inspire students by enhancing their learning to achieve them. The phenomenon may be labeled as achievement motivation. The achievement motivation appears to accomplish the constmct of achievement goals. Therefore, achievement goals are considered to be the motives making students leam for achieving them properly. These are motivational forces behind learning of students. Typically, the achievement goals are behaviors related to attaining class evel competencies (Elliot, 1997) which students are desired to acquire. Simialrly, Dweck (1986, & 1999) indicated two types of goals consisting on mastery goals and performance goals. Urdan (1997) further explained that the former goals focus on acquisition of competence through skills and mastery in the learned task; whereas the later (i.e. the performance) goals characterize as accomplishment of competencies for the purpose of social comparisons and for avoiding the negative feedback from others.

Elliot & Church (1997) stated that mastery and performance goals are distinctive in terms of approach and avoidance motivation. The mastery-approach goals refer to the most positive perspective and focus on developing competence to be skillful and learned. Students aiming at mastery-approach goals are desired to leam new skills and enhance their competencies with understanding; whereas, the mastery-avoidance goals refer to avoiding the failure to learn with understanding (Ames, 1992). Performance-approach goals are focused on relative competencies in certain context. The students having learnt performance-approach goals acquire competency for social comparisons and exhibit their abilities, while performance-avoidance goals reflect avoidance to the negative assessment about their competencies by others. Therefore, students work and study to prove them better others while in comparison with them by avoiding a perception of being incompetent (Urdan & Maehr, 1995). Hence the learning strategies assumed by the students vary in relation to their cognitive/ metacognitive and motivational aspects. Nolen (1996) found these strategies to be significant for realizing achievement goals intended by students. However, Entwistle (1988) asserted three important strategies in cognitive and /or metacognitive domain including deep processing, surface processing, and disorganization.

Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, & McKeachie (1993) defined the three strategies individually. The deep processing strategy grounds in critical thinking for justifying reliability of knowledge. It accumulates new knowledge blending with earlier information. Similarly, the surface processing embraces rote learning of information by incorporating recalling of learning materials. However, the disorganization deals with difficulties of students which they face in developing and processing integrated methods of learning. …