Self-Regulation, Goal Orientation, and Academic Achievement of Secondary Students in Online University Courses

Article excerpt


An increasing number of secondary students in the United States are now being required to take an online course as a graduation requirement. The state of Michigan, for example, now requires that all students take at least one online course for graduation from high school. There are also increased funding opportunities in the United States to support initiatives serving secondary students with options to take university courses in areas such as mathematics, science, and foreign languages, while still enrolled in secondary schools. To capitalize on these funding opportunities and increased competition and pressure to entice secondary students to universities, some universities are offering university courses for university and secondary school credit. These programs, often called Post-Secondary Programs, may have secondary students attend university part-time or have a secondary classroom educator teaching university courses to secondary students within their secondary classrooms.

The blurring, or erasing, of the line between secondary school and higher education is viewed by some to be very problematic for a variety of reasons. For example, the academic rigor of university course content taught within secondary schools is often called into question as are the qualifications of the secondary teacher to teach university courses. Furthermore, enticing secondary school students to attend university courses in which professors may or, more likely, may not understand the learning and developmental needs of adolescents and fail to provide them with the instructional support and guidance that they need to be successful university students. While this paper does not attempt to weigh in on these matters, they were important considerations for the design of the program illustrated in this paper.

This study investigated potential changes in motivation, goal orientation, and self-regulation of high achieving secondary students as they complete an online university course. Utilizing a pre-test/post-test design, changes in high-achieving secondary students' motivation and self-regulation after they complete an online university course was explored. This cross-sectional study also investigated the relationship between the self-regulation, goal orientation, and academic achievement of high school students enrolled in online college science courses. Data from application essays and focus interviews were also used to illustrate key findings and probe remaining questions. The primary question explored in this study was: What is the relationship between self-regulation, goal orientation, and academic achievement of high school students enrolled in online college courses?

Self-Regulation, Goal Orientation, and Achievement of K-12 Online Learners

The primary purpose of this study was to investigate key variables that have been found by researchers to influence student cognition, learning, and achievement: self-regulation and goal orientation (McCaslin & Hickey, 2001; Pintrich & DeGroot, 1990; Wolters, Yu, & Pintrich, 1996; Zimmerman, 1990, 1994, 2001; Zimmerman & Schunk, 2001). This study also investigated the use of self-regulation by high school students to navigate the completion of online college courses. The study is significant for it provided insight into the relationship between self-regulation, goal orientation and achievement of high school students enrolled in university courses. Furthermore, this study investigated the potential that online teaching and learning affords higher education, by creating a corridor to higher education for high school students.

Student achievement within Brick-and-Mortar learning environments has been found to be influenced by the degree to which a student has effective use of self-regulation, or the ability of students to plan, monitor, and evaluate their own behavior, cognition and learning strategies (McCaslin & Hickey, 2001; Winne, 2001; Zimmerman, 1990, 1994, 2001; Zimmerman & Schunk, 2001). …


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