Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Self-Regulatory Beliefs, Values and Achievement

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Self-Regulatory Beliefs, Values and Achievement

Article excerpt


This study examined the frequency of motivational and cognitive self-regulatory behaviors, valuation, and achievement levels of 131 African American males and 154 African American females who attended high school in a large urban school district. The results suggest that African American females who receive free and reduced lunch more frequently exhibit motivational and cognitive self-regulatory attitudes and behaviors in academic settings, achieve higher grade point averages and were more likely to admire, respect and emulate achievement related behaviors than their same-SES male counterparts.


Ultimately, the challenge faced by those who educate African American males of all socioeconomic groups is to convince them to exhibit the attitudes and behaviors that contribute to achievement. To this end, Tuckman (2003) developed four specific strategies for achievement borne of research on effectance and mastery motivation: take reasonable risk, take responsibility for your outcomes, search the environment and use feedback. These strategies encourage students to begin by analyzing the task and interpreting task requirements; then set task-specific goals, implement learning strategies, adjust their approach based upon internal and external feedback, and utilize volitional control to stay on-task (Tuckman 2001; Tuckman, 2002a; Tuckman et. al., 2002b). The utilization of these strategies has been found to increase academic achievement, particularly for underperforming African American college students (Tuckman, 2003).

Several research studies have suggested that the extent to which African American students employ motivational and cognitive processes in academic situations may relate to the manner in which Black students perceive their ethnicity (Franklin & Boyd-Franklin, 2000). Low-achieving African American students are often likely to take an inordinate amount of risk, perhaps based upon a failure to recognize the contingency between effort and outcomes (Gill, 1991). Low achieving African American students often shift responsibility to external causes in instances of failure based upon perceptions of racism and discrimination in their daily lives (McAdoo, 2002). With age, this tendency to blame forces outside of oneself for failure because stronger among African American students (Van Laar, 2000). Low-achieving African American students who perceive the school environment as dominated by a mainstream culture that is restrictive and foreboding may not be likely to ask questions and search the environment as an information processing strategy (Parham, White & Ajamu, 1999). Lastly, unsuccessful Black students ate more likely than White students to receive inaccurate performance feedback from teachers and other adults; as a result, those students suffer both academically and psychologically. Inflated but inaccurate praise may also motivate distrust and may lead Black students to devalue and disregard even accurate feedback (Steele & Aronson, 1995).

The interplay of educational issues coupled with the external pressures of what is perceived as an unwelcoming societal structure may also exert an influence on the achievement motivation, resulting in the formation of task values and career aspirations that may be qualitatively different for members of different socioeconomic groups as well as between males and females. Achievement values focus on the perceived importance, attractiveness or usefulness of achievement-directed attitudes or behaviors (Wigfield & Eccles, 1994). Values have motivational properties; students who place little value on academic achievement are not likely to utilize strategies or exhibit behaviors that will lead to school success (Graham, Taylor & Hudley, 1998). Researchers have further suggested that African American students may selectively devalue performance dimensions that are perceived to be incompatible with expected group behaviors (Steele & Aronson, 1995; Osborne, 1997). …

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