Predictors and Consequences of Achievement Goals in the College Classroom: Maintaining Interest and Making the Grade

Published on Jan 1, 1997in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology5.92
· DOI :10.1037/0022-3514.73.6.1284
Judith M. Harackiewicz50
Estimated H-index: 50
Kenneth E. Barron25
Estimated H-index: 25
(UW: University of Wisconsin-Madison)
+ 2 AuthorsAndrew J. Elliot81
Estimated H-index: 81
(UR: University of Rochester)
The authors investigated personality predictors of achievement goals in an introductory psychology class, as well as the consequences of these goals for the motivation and performance of 311 undergraduates. Two dimensions of achievement motivation (workmastery and competitive orientations; J. T. Spence & R. L. Helmreich, 1983) predicted the goals endorsed. Individuals high in workmastery were more likely to adopt mastery goals and less likely to adopt work avoidance goals, whereas competitive individuals were more likely to endorse performance and work avoidance goals. Students adopting mastery goals were more interested in the class, but students adopting performance goals achieved higher levels of performance. These results suggest that both mastery and performance goals can lead to important positive outcomes in college classes. Each semester as students decide whether to enroll in a particular class, those of us lurking in the halls hear students asking each other the following questions: "How much will I learn in this class?," "How did you do in this course?," and "How much work is required for this course?" These questions illustrate the issues that are important to college students in academic achievement situations and provide insight into the types of goals they might adopt for a particular course. Achievement goals are situationally specific orientations that represent the desire to develop, attain, or demonstrate competence in a particular context (Ames, 1992; Dweck, 1986; Nicholls, 1984, 1989), and they can affect the way that students approach and perform their coursework (Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Maehr & Braskamp, 1986). Although theoretical perspectives and labels differ, there is an emerging consensus that two primary types of achievement goals are important determinants of motivation and performance
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