Academic journal article Cognitie, Creier, Comportament

Personal and Classroom Promoted Achievement Goals: Interdependence between Students and Teachers

Academic journal article Cognitie, Creier, Comportament

Personal and Classroom Promoted Achievement Goals: Interdependence between Students and Teachers

Article excerpt


Teachers exert a significant influence on students' motivation, as conceptualized in the achievement goal theory. Our study investigates the complex interactions among student perceptions of classroom promoted goals and personal achievement goals, with a focus on classroom-promoted performance approach orientations. We also tap into the goal structures teachers promote in their classrooms, and their approaches to instruction. We employed the Pattern of Adaptive Learning Scales - PALS (Midgley et al., 2000) on a sample of middle-school students (N = 113) and their teachers. Research has shown that the subjective reports teachers and students provide on instructional practices are not always consonant. Therefore, in order to enhance students' academic motivation, both students' and teachers' perceptions must be adequately appraised. Moreover, the investigation of perceived goal orientations of students' ideal teacher points out valuable information about students' personal proclivities in respect to classroom goals.

KEYWORDS: academic motivation, achievement goals, PALS, Romania, middle-schools.

Student motivation has proven to be of critical importance in determining school success. According to the achievement goal theory, students' achievement goals are strongly related to a considerable range of learning and academic performance outcomes (Ames, 1992; Midgley, Kaplan, & Middleton, 2001; Nicholls, 1984). Therefore, in order to understand the underlying mechanisms and enhance student motivation, research must identify determinants of achievement goals, both at personal and school level. Although several multidimensional variables have been found to be influential factors of achievement goals development, there still are a lot of blanks to be filled in order to understand what students want to achieve in academic settings (Midgley, Kaplan, & Middleton, 2001; Régner, Loose, & Dumas, 2009). Hence, in the present research we focus on an analysis of achievement goal components in a sample of middle-school students from Romania, by analyzing both personal, teacher and classroom determinants.

Academic motivation and achievement goals

Achievement goals represent key elements in the academic development of students at all ages and educational levels. They encompass purposes for behavior that are perceived or pursued in a competence-relevant setting (Midgley, Kaplan, & Middleton, 2001). The school environment gradually builds intentionality in students, focusing on the construction of different competence domains, which can refer to academic subjects (e. g., foreign languages, Mathematics, Physics), social and emotional competences, academic self-regulation, and so on. The development of competence is intrinsically related to achievement motivation, as the latter refers to the criteria that students learn to use, value, adopt and then consciously choose when they learn in school.

Two major categories of achievement goals have been proposed in the achievement motivation literature: (a) goals that focus the student on ability and self development, described as "mastery goals" "learning goals" or "task goals" and (b) goals that orient the student on social comparisons with others, most often in terms of ability demonstration or avoidance of lack of ability demonstration, defined as "performance goals" "ego goals" or "ability goals" (Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Nicholls, 1984). On the one hand, a student who predominantly employs mastery goals in his academic learning focuses on the task at hand and especially on developing competence and gaining understanding and insight. On the other hand, a student who mainly uses performance goals will focus on the manner in which what he does is judged and evaluated by others and is compared to the performances of others. These types of achievement goals are related to specific patterns of cognition, affect, and behavior, at different educational levels (Harackiewicz, Barron, Carter, Lehto, & Elliot, 1997). …

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