Background comment regarding this series
Interest in social-emotional learning and resiliency training (click here and here for just two examples) in education has shown a recent uptick on activity. Given this activity, IQs Corner is starting a series to explain the previously articulated Model of Academic Competence and Motivation (MACM), which was a model ahead of it's time (IMHO). The imporance of non-cognitive (conative) characteristics in learning have been articulated since the days of Spearman, the father of the construct of general intelligence. Richard Snow's work on the concept of "aptitude," which integrates cognitive and conative individual difference variables, is the foundation of the Beyond IQ MACM. Non-cognitive (cognitive) characteristics of learners are important for learning and are more manipulable (more likely to be modified via intervention) than intelligence. Thus, the MACM components make sense as potential levers for improving school learning and pursuing more well rounded life-long learners. This material comes a larger set of materials on the web (click here).
Current MACM Series Installment
This in the Beyond IQ series provides a definition and learning implications of goal orientation, a subdomain under motivation orientation in the MACM model. . [All installments in this series (and other related posts and research) can be found by clicking here].
Achievement Goal Setting: Definition and Conceptual Background
A person’s set of beliefs that reflect the reasons why they approach and engage in academic and learning tasks. A performance goal orientation is exemplified by a concern for personal ability, a normative social comparison with others, preoccupation with the perception of others, a desire for public recognition for performance, and a need to avoid looking incompetent. A learning goal orientation reflects a focus on task completion and understanding, learning, mastery, solving problems, and developing new skills.
Academic goal orientation is based on contemporary “goal-as-motives” theory where it is posited that “all actions are given meaning, direction, and purpose by the goals that individuals seek out, and that the quality and intensity of behavior will change as these goals change” (Covington, 2000, p. 174). Achievement goal theory is particularly important in education as it is believed that by differentially reinforcing some goals (and not others), teachers can influence (change) the reasons why students learn—that is, change their motivation (Covington, 2000).
Different groups of researchers have converged on strikingly similar findings regarding the importance of academic goal orientation for academic success (Snow et al., 1996). The resultant achievement goal theory has received considerable attention during the past decade (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002; Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2002b). Goal theory focuses on the role that “purpose” plays in motivation attitudes and behavior (Anderman & Maehr, 1994; Eccles &Wigfield, 2002; Maehr, 1999; Snow et al., 1996; Urdan & Maehr, 1995). Goal orientation focuses on the student’s reasons for taking a course or wanting a specific grade (Anderman et al., 2002). In this document, academic goal orientation is defined as an individual’s set of beliefs that reflect the reasons why they approach and engage in academic tasks (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002; Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2002a; Pintrich, 2000b; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2002; Wentzel, 1999).
Although the specific terminology may differ amongst researchers, goal theory typically proposes two general goal orientations (Covington, 2000; Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2002a). Nicholls and colleagues (e.g., Nicholls, Cobb, Yackel, & Wood, 1990) classify goals as either ego- or task- involved (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002). Dweck and colleagues (see Dweck, 1999) distinguish between performance (such as ego-involved goals) and learning goals (such as task-involved goals). Ames (1992) refers to performance and mastery goals. A performance goal orientation is characterized by self-questions such as “Will I look smart?” and/or “Can I out- perform others?” which reflect a concern for personal ability, a normative social comparison with others, preoccupation with the perception of others, a desire for public recognition for performance, a need to avoid looking incompetent, and “outperforming others as a means to aggrandize one’s ability status at the expense of peers”(Covington, 2000, p. 174). In contrast, a student with a learning goal orientation would more likely ask the questions “How can I do this task?” and “What will I learn?” The learning goal orientation reflects a focus on task completion and understanding, learning, mastery, solving problems, developing new skills, and an appreciation for what one learns (Covington, 2000; Eccles & Wigfield, 2002; Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2002b; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2002).
Achievement Goal Setting: Learning Implications
Locke and Latham’s (2002) review of the goal-setting research suggest the following implications: (See Locke and Latham (2002) for theoretical models that describe the hypothesized relations between assigned goals, self- set goals, self-efficacy, and performance, and the essential elements of Goal-Setting Theory and a “high performance cycle.”)
Specific and difficult goals lead to higher performance than do simple admonitions to students to “do their best.” Research suggests that “do-your-best” goals have “no external referent and thus are defined idiosyncratically. This allows for a wide range of acceptable performance levels, which is not the case when a goal level is specified” (Locke & Latham, 2002, p. 706)..
Goal setting is a key variable in self-regulated learning.
The goals set, or endorsed by a student, are hypothesized to play an important role in the student’s subsequent satisfaction or dissatisfaction vis-à-vis the provision of a criterion point for the performance standard.
Specific academic goals are a necessary but insufficient condition for maintaining effort. Students need formative and summative feedback on their progress toward goals. Consistent feedback allows students the opportunity to adjust their strategies and/or the direction or level of their effort
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