Competition, Achievement, and Gender: A Stress
Donald R. Brown
University of Michigan
The relationship between competition and achievement might seem to educational psychologists an issue resolved some time ago. After all, everybody "knows" that competitive situations are inferior to cooperative settings when it comes to letting students fulfill their potential (see Johnson & Johnson, 1975; Johnson, Maruyama, Johnson, Nelson, & Skon, 1981). Why would this chapter then revisit this issue?
One general reason for considering this issue one more time can be seen when looking at the title of this volume: Student Motivation, Cognition, and Learning. This title captures an understanding of student achievement as not just being driven by students' potentials and abilities or given opportunities for learning; it also implies that all learning is influenced by subjective factors, specifically by the way we feel and think about subject matters and learning. The way we feel and think about competitive settings is just one instance in which the significance of these factors can--and will be--demonstrated.
A more specific reason for this chapter relates to the frequency with which competition comes up when talking with undergraduate