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Shaping achievement goal orientations in a mastery-structured environment and concomitant changes in related contingencies of self-worth

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Abstract

Across three time-points spanning 9 months, changes in achievement goal orientations and contingencies of self-worth were assessed as a function of participating in a mastery-structured academic program for high-ability adolescents (N = 126). Endorsement of mastery goal orientations increased during the program and remained high even after students returned to their home learning environments. In contrast, performance-approach and performance-avoidance goal orientations decreased during the summer program, but returned to previous levels when assessed 6 months later. Latent growth curve models assessed the covariation of performance goal orientations and two contingencies of self-worth (outperforming others and others’ approval) hypothesized to represent elements of performance goal orientations. Changes in the contingency of self-worth based on outperforming others positively covaried with observed changes in both performance goal orientations; however, changes in self-worth contingent on others’ approval did not. Results are discussed in terms of mastery-structured environments’ potential to alter achievement goal orientations via their underlying psychological processes. Implications for achievement goal theory and the design of achievement-oriented environments are discussed.
ORIGINAL PAPER
Shaping achievement goal orientations in a mastery-structured
environment and concomitant changes in related contingencies
of self-worth
Paul A. O’Keefe
Adar Ben-Eliyahu
Lisa Linnenbrink-Garcia
Published online: 8 April 2012
Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012
Abstract Across three time-points spanning 9 months,
changes in achievement goal orientations and contingen-
cies of self-worth were assessed as a function of partici-
pating in a mastery-structured academic program for
high-ability adolescents (N = 126). Endorsement of mas-
tery goal orientations increased during the program and
remained high even after students returned to their home
learning environments. In contrast, performance-approach
and performance-avoidance goal orientations decreased
during the summer program, but returned to previous levels
when assessed 6 months later. Latent growth curve models
assessed the covariation of performance goal orientations
and two contingencies of self-worth (outperforming others
and others’ approval) hypothesized to represent elements
of performance goal orientations. Changes in the contin-
gency of self-worth based on outperforming others posi-
tively covaried with observed changes in both performance
goal orientations; however, changes in self-worth contin-
gent on others’ approval did not. Results are discussed in
terms of mastery-structured environments’ potential to
alter achievement goal orientations via their underlying
psychological processes. Implications for achievement goal
theory and the design of achievement-oriented environ-
ments are discussed.
Keywords Achievement goals
Achievement motivation Classroom context
Contingencies of self-worth Goal orientations
Introduction
People vary in their reasons for engaging in particular
achievement behaviors and endorse various achievement
goal orientations (Dweck and Leggett 1988; Elliot 2005;
Elliot and McGregor 2001). Similarly, achievement con-
texts vary with respect to the achievement goal orientations
they invoke. Environments may stress the importance of
outperforming others, developing competencies, or both
(Ames 1992b; Patrick et al. 2001). Theory and research has
sought to understand how these contextual goal structures
influence personal goal orientations, with a particular
interest in understanding how to design environments that
engender adaptive patterns of motivation and learning (see
Ames 1992a, b; Epstein 1988; Maehr and Midgley 1996;
Urdan 2010). The nature and trajectory of their influence,
however, are not fully understood.
Research in this area has generally investigated the effect
of goal structures on motivation and learning by examining
shifts in goal orientations across school transitions (Ander-
man and Midgley 1997; Gutman 2006) as well as the relation
between students’ perceived classroom goal structure and
their own goal endorsement (Church et al. 2001; Kaplan and
Maehr 1999; Midgley and Urdan 2001; Murayama and Elliot
2009; Nolen and Haladyna 1990; Urdan 2004; Wolters
2004). Little is known, however, about the intervening
effects of an intensive mastery-structured environment and
P. A. O’Keefe A. Ben-Eliyahu L. Linnenbrink-Garcia
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University,
Durham, NC, USA
Present Address:
P. A. O’Keefe (&)
Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Jordan Hall,
Building 420, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
e-mail: paul.okeefe@stanford.edu
Present Address:
A. Ben-Eliyahu
Learning Research and Development Center,
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
123
Motiv Emot (2013) 37:50–64
DOI 10.1007/s11031-012-9293-6
how experiencing such an environment may continue to
shape personal goal orientations once individuals move to
other achievement contexts. And we know even less about
the concomitant psychological mechanisms through which
goal structures shape personal goal orientations. As such, the
purpose of the current study was to (a) examine the tempo-
rally proximal and distal effects of engaging in a mastery-
structured learning environment on personal achievement
goal orientations and theoretically related contingencies of
self-worth, and (b) to consider whether these contingencies
of self-worth serve as underlying psychological processes
through which environmental goal structures shape perfor-
mance goal endorsement.
Theoretical background
Achievement goal theory proposes two main goal orien-
tations that influence individuals’ interpretations and
reactions to achievement situations (Ames 1992b; Dweck
and Leggett 1988; Kaplan and Maehr 2007; Maehr and
Nicholls 1980; Maehr and Zusho 2009). A mastery goal
orientation refers to a focus on developing competence.
With a performance goal orientation, the focus is on
demonstrating competence. Goal orientations can be
thought of as interpretative frameworks or schemas, which
focus the individual’s attention towards the self or the task
(Maehr 2001). In this way, a performance goal orientation
activates a focus on demonstrating competence, which is
realized through impression management (showing others
that you are smart) and outperforming others (normative
strivings). In contrast, a mastery goal orientation activates a
focus on developing competence through an emphasis on
improvement, learning, and deepening understanding. Goal
orientations include beliefs about the purposes for engag-
ing in goals, how competence and standards are defined,
and the meaning of success, ability, effort, and failure
(Kaplan and Maehr 2007; Maehr and Zusho 2009; Pintrich
2000a). This goal orientation perspective is distinct from
the conceptualization of achievement goals as standards
that define competence (see Elliot and Thrash 2001; Elliot
et al. 2011; Hulleman et al. 2010; Senko et al. 2011). The
standards approach focuses on goals, not goal orientations,
and defines goals more narrowly as competence-related
aims (e.g., earning a higher grade than before, or earning a
better grade than one’s classmates), while the goal orien-
tation approach reflects a broader schema-based goal
construct.
Both goal orientations and goals can have an approach
or avoidance focus (Elliot 1997, 1999; Middleton and
Midgley 1997; Pintrich 2000a). People endorsing a per-
formance-approach goal orientation are concerned with
appearing competent, while those endorsing a perfor-
mance-avoidance goal orientation are concerned with
evading appearing incompetent. This same approach-
avoidance distinction has been applied to mastery goal
orientations (Elliot 1999; Elliot and McGregor 2001;
Pintrich 2000b), although there is less empirical evidence
supporting mastery-avoidance goal orientations (Maehr
and Zusho 2009) and it is generally more aligned with
the goals as standards perspective (see Elliot et al. 2011).
Thus in the current paper, we employ the commonly used
trichotomous model of achievement goal orientations,
examining performance-approach, performance-avoidance,
and mastery (approach) goal orientations.
Goal structure
Researchers have long sought to understand how environ-
ments can be structured to most effectively elicit
achievement motivation (Brophy 2008). This research on
contextual supports spans multiple theoretical perspectives,
but has been most thoroughly researched from a self-
determination theory perspective (Ryan and Deci 2000),
social cognitive perspective (Bandura 1993), or an
achievement goal theory perspective (Ames 1992b). Given
our focus on supporting goal orientations, we highlight the
latter perspective, although there is substantial overlap
among them, especially regarding autonomy support and
the use of challenging tasks.
Most goal theorists have focused on the primary
dimensions of TARGET, identified by Ames (1992a) and
Epstein (1988), as key structures within a school or class-
room. TARGET identifies six main areas that are thought
to shape the endorsement of achievement goal orientations
within a particular context. These include the nature of the
Tasks in which students engage (e.g., the extent to which
they are novel or challenging), the Authority in the class-
room (e.g., the extent to which instructors provided
autonomy support), how students are Rewarded (e.g., how
instructors acknowledge and reinforce student achieve-
ments and their learning progress), how students are
Grouped (e.g., organizing students based on their similar-
ities or differences), Evaluation and recognition practices
(e.g., the standards, procedures, and methods used to
ensure students are learning and progressing), and flexi-
bility of Time (e.g., the pace of the instruction and
assignments). In more recent work, the importance of
considering the socio-emotional climate has also been
noted (Patrick et al. 2001).
Using this framework as a guide, researchers have
investigated how the presence (or absence) of these con-
textual qualities invoke or support particular goals or
goal orientations as well as other academic outcomes (see
Urdan 2010 for a review). Much of the research on goal
structures has emphasized how they shape key educational
outcomes (e.g., Ames and Archer 1988; Gutman 2006;
Motiv Emot (2013) 37:50–64 51
123
Karabenick 2004; Ryan et al. 1998; Urdan et al. 1998).
However, a number of studies also considered how the
educational context shapes students’ goals and goal ori-
entations. Although most of this work has been conducted
from the goal orientation perspective, compelling evidence
also comes from the goals as standards perspective. Church
et al. (2001), for example, examined how students’ per-
ceptions of particular characteristics of the classroom
environment determined their goal adoption. Students
endorsed mastery goals when the lectures were engaging
and when an evaluation focus and harsh evaluation were
absent. In contrast, performance-approach goals were
adopted when students perceived the classroom to have an
evaluation focus, while performance-avoidance goals
resulted when students perceived a presence of evaluation
focus and harsh evaluation.
There is also research suggesting that perceptions of the
classroom goal structure and the goal orientations endorsed
by socialization agents (e.g., teachers and parents) shape
personal goal orientation endorsement (e.g., Ciani et al.
2010; Friedel et al. 2007; Kaplan and Maehr 1999; Midgley
and Urdan 2001; Murayama and Elliot 2009; Roeser et al.
1996; Urdan 2004; Wolters 2004). Qualitative examina-
tions of classroom goal structures have further clarified that
there are clear variations in classroom goal structures that
can be readily identified by both students in the classroom
and outside observers (Patrick et al. 2001; Urdan 2004).
Taken together, there is fairly strong empirical evidence
to suggest that the perceived goal structure of the class-
room is related to personal goal endorsement as well as
achievement-related behavior and beliefs, and that per-
ceived mastery goal structures are generally more benefi-
cial for achievement-related behaviors and beliefs than
performance-goal structures (Urdan 2010). Despite the
apparent benefits of mastery goal structures, very little
research has explicitly examined it as an educational
intervention and identified its potential effects on student
motivation over time. Maehr and Midgley (Anderman et al.
1999; Maehr and Midgley 1996; Midgley and Maehr 1999)
engaged in a 3-year intervention study working with both
elementary and middle school administrators to shift the
schools’ focus towards a mastery mindset. At the elemen-
tary level, there were no significant differences in students’
reports of the motivational environment—although this
may be due to the use of self-report instruments with
younger elementary school students. For middle school
students, both performance-approach goal orientations and
perceived classroom goal structures were lower in the
intervention school; however, there were no differences in
self-reported mastery goals. While not using an intervention
framework, per se, Linnenbrink’s (2005) quasi-experi-
mental study also provides evidence that the classroom goal
structure shapes students’ goal endorsement as well as other
academic-related outcomes such as help-seeking and
achievement.
Some insight can also be gained from prior research on
the transition from elementary school to middle school,
which often reflects a shift from a mastery- to a perfor-
mance-structured learning environment (see Anderman and
Midgley 1997; Midgley 1993; Midgley et al. 1995). These
studies have demonstrated that the transition to middle
school is associated with increased endorsement of per-
formance goals and decreased endorsement of mastery
goals, increased perception of the classroom as perfor-
mance-structured and decreased perception of the class-
room as mastery-structured, and decreased perceived
competence (Anderman and Midgley 1997).
Aside from the few intervention and observational
studies noted, the majority of research on classroom goal
structures has relied on students’ perceptions of the class-
room goal structure. As Urdan (
2010) discussed, this may
be problematic in that studies employing hierarchical linear
modeling (HLM) report the majority of variability in
classroom goal structures occurs within, rather than
between, classrooms. Moreover, Koskey et al. (2010) anal-
ysis of students’ interpretation of the mastery goal structure
scale suggests that some students may interpret the items
relative to their own views rather than the classroom goal
structure itself, especially when items are framed in terms of
the class in general (‘‘In my science class’) rather than in
terms of the teacher (‘‘My teacher’). Finally, prior
research has primarily investigated how perceived class-
room goal structures relate to changes in personal goal ori-
entations, other forms of motivation (e.g., perceived
competence and interest), and subsequent behaviors and
achievement. Little attention has been paid to how the
classroom environment shapes other psychological pro-
cesses, such as contingencies of self-worth, that may
underlie changes in achievement goal orientations.
Accordingly, we now turn to a discussion of these related
psychological processes through which classroom goal
structures may shape personal goal endorsement.
Performance goal orientations and related contingencies
of self-worth
Goal orientations comprise a host of beliefs regarding the
purpose of goal engagement, the development of compe-
tencies, standards of success, and the meaning of failure
(Kaplan and Maehr 2007; Maehr and Zusho 2009; Pintrich
2000a). Because they are composed of various elements, it
is reasonable to assume that changes in any of these ele-
ments may influence changes in goal orientations them-
selves. Thus, another major goal of the current study was to
examine how goal orientations and theoretically related
elements change in response to a mastery-structured
52 Motiv Emot (2013) 37:50–64
123
intervention, and whether these responses covary. In par-
ticular, we examined two relevant contingencies of self-
worth, as they represent two major underlying elements of
performance goal orientations.
Crocker and her colleagues (see Crocker and Wolfe
2001 for a review) note that individuals judge their self-
worth based on domain-specific criteria and that these
judgments can exert situational effects on self-esteem. For
example, an individual whose self-worth is contingent on
academic competence may suffer decrements in self-
esteem when he or she fails an exam. Conversely, that
same individual may experience an increase in self-esteem
after earning an A. Those whose self-worth is not contin-
gent on academic competence, however, would not expe-
rience such dramatic shifts in state self-esteem under the
same circumstances. Of particular relevance to the present
study are self-worth contingent on outperforming others
and approval from others. As we discuss below, both
constructs are theoretically related to performance goal
orientations. Importantly, we were not interested in these
constructs as they relate to the assessment of self-worth,
per se, but rather their relation to the contingencies for
success associated with the endorsement of performance
goal orientations. Therefore, we operationalized these
related contingencies of self-worth as two central elements
of performance goal orientations, and conceive of these
contingencies as being susceptible to situational change.
First, we hypothesize that performance goal orientations
are linked to beliefs about self-worth contingent on out-
performing others. This proposed relation is based on con-
vergent evidence that a major element of performance goal
orientations is the desire to outperform others as a means of
demonstrating normative ability (Grant and Dweck 2003;
Urdan and Mestas 2006). Specifically, Urdan and Mestas’
(2006) interviews of students identified as having a per-
formance goal orientation revealed that the orientations
consisted of several distinct categories that represented the
reasons for pursuing performance goals. Among these are
competition-related goals, which refer to students’ desire to
outperform others. Research by Grant and Dweck (2003)
yielded a similar element of performance orientations,
which they termed a ‘normative outcome goal.’ These, too,
reflect a heightened concern for normative standards of
success and a desire to outperform others. Although the
contingency of self-worth based on outperforming others
largely reflects a social concern rather than a discrete goal
or broader goal orientation, the normative element of per-
formance goal orientations is conceptually similar; people
who endorse performance goal orientations are theoretically
motivated by a concern for normative success as a mecha-
nism for demonstrating competence.
Second, self-worth contingent on others’ approval
is also hypothesized to relate to performance goal
orientations. As noted previously, performance goal ori-
entations are primarily concerned with either demonstrat-
ing competence, or the avoidance of appearing
incompetent (Kaplan and Maehr 2007). This can be further
tied to a desire to gain the approval of others (e.g., dem-
onstrate competence to others). Consistent with this rea-
soning, Urdan and Mestas’ (2006) research suggested that
appearance-related concerns are also an important element
of performance goal orientations. Because many achieve-
ment contexts are social in nature, performance can
become a means of self-presentation (Baumeister 1982).
People are often inclined to manage their impression to
others, including impressions of competence, in the service
of social approval (Leary 1995). Therefore, it is reasonable
to assume that the focus on demonstrating competence
arises, at least in part, from a poignant desire to gain others’
approval.
By this reasoning, contingencies of self-worth relating to
outperforming others and desiring approval from others
represent major elements of performance goal orientations.
However, the distinction between goal orientations and
contingencies of self-worth is also worth noting. Perfor-
mance goal orientations reflect the reasons why individuals
engage in achievement-related activities, thus reflecting the
purpose for their engagement. Contingencies of self-worth,
on the other hand, reflect deeper beliefs about the self and,
in the context of the current research, capture the degree to
which success is tied to outperforming others or others’
approval.
In summary, we propose that the contingencies of self-
worth based on outperforming others and others’ approval
represent critical elements of performance goal orienta-
tions. We also propose that these contingencies of self-
worth are subject to situational change depending on the
goal structure of the environment in which one is engaged.
To this end, we hypothesize that changes in these contin-
gencies of self-worth may underlie and accompany chan-
ges in performance-approach and performance-avoidance
goal orientations. Understanding the relation between
performance goal orientations and their core elements will
help to shed light on the psychological mechanisms
through which achievement goal orientations change as a
function of classroom settings.
The present research
The present study had two main objectives. Its first purpose
was to identify the temporally proximal and distal changes
associated with engaging in a mastery-structured learning
environment. In particular, we examined changes in
personally endorsed achievement goal orientations and
related contingencies of self-worth. Observing how goal
orientations change in response to a mastery-structured
Motiv Emot (2013) 37:50–64 53
123
environment extends prior research, which has largely been
limited to the study of students’ perceptions of the class-
room. This is an important extension, as students’ own goal
orientations may alter their perceptions of the context
(Linnenbrink 2004; Urdan 2001).
The second purpose was to examine whether the
observed changes in performance goal orientations covar-
ied with the contingencies of self-worth hypothesized to
represent two of its primary elements. This latter objective
is of particular interest, as it might help explain the psy-
chological processes involved in the modification of goal
orientations and the role of the environment’s goal struc-
ture. Theoretically, we assert that the goal structure of a
learning environment exacts change on performance goal
orientations by manipulating these two elements. Because
learning environments may emphasize or de-emphasize
normative ability and the desire for others’ approval, they
may also augment or attenuate these performance goal-
related concerns, thus altering broader goal orientations. As
an initial step in addressing this theoretical issue, we
examined the covariation of growth trajectories between
performance goal orientations and the contingencies of
self-worth based on outperforming others and others’
approval.
We investigated these two primary research questions
by examining high-ability adolescents participating in a
mastery-structured residential summer program. Using a
short-term, 3-phase longitudinal design to follow partici-
pants over the course of 9 months, we surveyed partici-
pants before, during, and after their participation in the
3-week summer program.
We hypothesized that engagement in the mastery-
structured learning environment would alter students’
personal achievement goal orientations and related con-
tingencies of self-worth. First, given the summer program’s
focus on enrichment and learning, we hypothesized that
mastery goal orientations would be enhanced during the
summer program, but would return to prior levels once
students returned home. Second, because the academic
summer program explicitly deemphasized normative
evaluation, we hypothesized that students’ performance-
approach and performance-avoidance goal orientations
would be attenuated during the summer program, as well as
their judgments that their self-worth was contingent on
outperforming others and others’ approval. As with mas-
tery goal orientations, we hypothesized that this shift would
be temporary, and that students would return to pre-pro-
gram levels after returning to their traditional educational
contexts. Moreover, because contingent self-worth based
on outperforming others and others’ approval represent
core elements of performance goal orientations (see Grant
and Dweck 2003; Urdan and Mestas 2006), we hypothe-
sized that changes in these contingencies would covary
with changes in performance goal orientations over time.
That is, these constructs should all decrease while attending
the summer program and return to baseline levels after
leaving the program, and the growth trajectories of self-
worth contingent on outperforming others and others’
approval should positively correlate with the growth
trajectories of performance-approach and performance-
avoidance goal orientations.
Method
Participants
Participants were 8th through 10th grade students
(N = 126; 54 % male, 46 % female). The mean age was
14.61 years (SD = .91). All participants were enrolled in
science courses during a rigorous 3-week residential sum-
mer educational enrichment program for high-ability ado-
lescents. Qualification for enrollment in the summer
program was based on a national talent search. Talent
search participants took a standardized test (either the ACT
or the SAT) in the 7th grade, with students scoring 500 or
higher on either the math or critical reasoning SAT (or the
ACT equivalent) qualifying for participation in the summer
program.
The sample included adolescents from a variety of
ethnic/racial groups: 71 % Caucasian, 11 % Asian, 6 %
Latino/a, 3 % African Americans. An additional 3 % of
participants responded ‘Other’’, and 6 % either did not
respond to the item or responded as ‘Unknown.’ Socio-
economic background was also diverse, as financial aid
was provided for students to help reduce the costs of
attending the summer program.
Additionally, 16 (10 females) of the 17 summer program
instructors agreed to complete a survey regarding their
instructional practices during the summer program. The
mean age of the instructors was 26.94 (SD = 6.19), rang-
ing from 21 to 48 years old. All but one instructor was
under the age of 30. Fifteen instructors were Caucasian;
one instructor did not to report his ethnicity. Course
instructors varied in teaching experience. About 70 percent
of the instructors had taught as part of the summer program
in previous years; all instructors were required to have at
least 1 year of experience at the graduate or secondary
level or in professional employment related to the topic
area they would be teaching. Instructors were selected
based on their experience level and their depth of knowl-
edge in the course-specific material. Each instructor was
required to create a course syllabus, develop a challenging
course curriculum, and attend an orientation session prior
to the start of the summer program. Instructors received
training regarding the goals of the program (see description
54 Motiv Emot (2013) 37:50–64
123
of summer program below) as well as individual guidance
regarding course creation and teaching methods.
Summer program
The residential summer program was designed as an
enrichment opportunity for high-ability students. The pro-
gram lasted for 3 weeks, during which students attended an
academically rigorous class for 7 h on weekdays and 3 h
on Saturday for a total of 120 class hours. The topics of the
courses were varied, including subjects such as Aerospace
Engineering, Introduction to Medical Science, Marine
Biology, and Pharmacology, and courses were taught by
instructors who specialized in the course subject. Prior to
the summer program, instructors participated in an orien-
tation program and received training materials that detailed
specific pedagogical methods that they were expected to
carry out in their classrooms.
The pedagogical approach of the summer program was
aligned with the principles delineated by Ames (1992a, b)
for creating a mastery goal structure and de-emphasiz-
ing performance-related concerns. The curriculum and
instruction combined elements of enrichment and acceler-
ation, intellectual risk-taking, and non-normative evalua-
tion. Instructors were encouraged to assess students’
knowledge and interests at the beginning of the program so
that they could tailor activities to the students’ level of
knowledge and interest in the subjects.
As previously discussed, tasks that are challenging and
varied help to create a mastery-structured educational
context (Ames 1992a, b). In the summer program, activities
were developed to build on prior knowledge, while also
challenging students and introducing new materials;
instructors also aimed to support connections between the
course materials and their students’ daily lives. Instructors
employed a range of class activities such as lectures, small
group work, experiments, other hands-on and/or inquiry-
based activities, and discussion, with an emphasis on col-
laboration and creativity. There was also an explicit
emphasis on exposing students to complex principles and
concepts, with the goal of enhancing and progressing stu-
dents’ learning. Thus, activities were designed to be chal-
lenging, but not intimidating, allowing enough time for
students to process the information while fostering a col-
legial attitude towards fellow learners.
Another classroom characteristic that facilitates a mas-
tery goal structure is autonomy support (Ames 1992a, b),
which instructors were trained to implement in several
ways. They were coached to encourage students’ research
and exploration for the sake of learning rather than to
directly provide answers to students. In this way, students
were encouraged to be independent and self-directive in
their learning. For instance, instructors were trained to pose
questions such as ‘What do you think?’ rather than pro-
viding an answer themselves. Moreover, instructors
encouraged students to draw their own conclusions and
justify them, explore aspects of class subjects that interest
them most, and make decisions regarding what they prefer
to learn and how they would like to learn those mate-
rials. This encouraged the students to be active, creative
learners.
Furthermore, the evaluation and recognition methods
employed in the program adhered to those that promote a
mastery-structured environment (and de-emphasized per-
formance goal-related concerns) by encouraging improve-
ment and recognizing effort and growth, while de-
emphasizing normative comparison. Instructors were told
to place an emphasis on problem-solving, rather than
achieving a high grade. Additionally, the feedback given to
students was formative and focused on the learning pro-
cesses rather than the learning outcome. For example,
students’ papers and presentations were evaluated with
respect to their coherent organization, effective transitions,
appropriate vocabulary, and substantive and relevant con-
tent. Furthermore, students did not receive formal grades
for their course work. Instead, after the program was
completed, students received more general feedback from
their instructors on the components of learning and strategy
use (rated from 1 = never or rarely met course expecta-
tions to 5 = exceeded course expectations). Throughout
the course, there was also an explicit focus on reducing
social comparison among summer program participants
and providing opportunities for all students to participate
and engage in the instruction, thereby de-emphasizing
normative comparisons that are indicative of a performance
goal structure.
In addition to academics, social activities provided
opportunities to interact with peers in non-academic set-
tings. Students were encouraged to build friendships with
others in the program and were consequently not assigned
homework. The emphasis on the social aspect of the
learning environment is in line with current research sug-
gesting that an academically and emotionally supportive
classroom coincides with a mastery goal structure (Patrick
et al. 2011). Creating an environment where amicable
social interactions are valued is crucial in providing
opportunities for group work, promoting collaboration and
discussions, and sharing, all of which are indicative of a
mastery-structured environment.
In summary, the program explicitly encouraged intel-
lectual risk-taking, academic engagement, self-direction,
and academic excellence through knowledge-building, all
of which are in line with a mastery classroom goal struc-
ture. Moreover, it discouraged normative evaluations,
social comparison, and competition, which is in keeping
with a de-emphasis of a performance goal structure.
Motiv Emot (2013) 37:50–64 55
123
Procedure
Recruitment for study participation occurred prior to stu-
dents’ arrival at the program. Potential participants (those
registered for a science course at the summer program)
were contacted by mail in the spring before their partici-
pation in the summer program and were invited to com-
plete an assent form and the Phase 1 (baseline) survey;
parental consent was also obtained at that time. A second
survey (Phase 2) was administered at the end of the 3-week
summer program. Finally, 6 months after students returned
home from the summer program, participants received a
Phase 3 survey by postal mail. All measures (described
below) were completed during each of the three phases,
with the exception of perceived classroom goal structure,
which was only administered in Phase 2.
As might be expected in a longitudinal design, there was
some attrition across the three phases (Phase 1, n = 126;
Phase 2, n = 110; Phase 3, n = 83). Attrition analyses
indicated that there were no significant differences in
gender, race, or any of the other variables included in the
study between participants who completed and did not
complete Phase 1, Phase 2, and/or Phase 3. There were also
no differences between students who participated only in
Phase 1, those who participated in Phases 1 and 2 but not 3,
or those who participated in Phases 1 and 3 but not 2. This
suggests that the attrition resulted in data that was missing
at random without any specific demand characteristics in a
certain group of participants.
Measures
Personal achievement goal orientations
Students’ mastery (5 items; a
Phase1
= .89, a
Phase2
= .91,
a
Phase3
= .93), performance-approach (5 items; a
Phase1
=
.94, a
Phase2
= .95, a
Phase3
= .95), and performance-avoid-
ance (4 items; a
Phase1
= .86, a
Phase2
= .87, a
Phase3
= .90)
goal orientations in science were assessed at all three
phases using the Patterns of Adaptive Learning Survey
(PALS) (Midgley et al. 2000). To assess mastery, partici-
pants responded to items such as ‘It’s important to me that
I learn a lot of new concepts in science’ (mastery). In line
with the conceptualization of performance goal orienta-
tions as schemas that include both an appearance and a
normative/evaluative component, the performance scales
included both appearance (performance-approach: ‘‘One of
my goals is to show others that I’m good at science’’;
performance-avoidance: ‘One of my goals is to keep oth-
ers from thinking I’m not smart in science class’’) and
normative/evaluative (performance-approach: ‘One of my
goals is to look smart in comparison to the other students in
my science class’’; performance-avoidance: ‘‘It’s important
to me that my teacher doesn’t think that I know less than
others in science class’’) items. Items were rated on a
5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree)to5
(strongly agree).
Contingencies of self-worth
Two sub-scales of the contingency of self-worth scale were
used to assess the extent to which self-worth judgments
were based on outperforming others (5 items; a
Phase1
=
.89, a
Phase2
= .93, a
Phase3
= .90) and others’ approval (5
items; a
Phase1
= .86, a
Phase2
= .87, a
Phase3
= .86) (Crocker
et al. 2003). Examples include ‘Doing better than others
gives me a sense of self-respect’ (outperforming others),
and ‘‘What others think of me has no effect on what I think
about myself’ (others’ approval). Participants rated the
items using a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly
disagree)to5(strongly agree).
Individual interest
Individual interest in science was measured using Lin-
nenbrink-Garcia et al.’s (2010) individual interest scale (8
items; a = .92). The scale assessed the extent to which
students enjoy science, as well as whether they found sci-
ence to be personally meaningful and relevant. Participants
responded to statements such as ‘Science is exciting to
me’ and ‘Science helps me in my daily life outside of
school’ on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly
disagree)to5(strongly agree). Interest was used as a
control variable in one of the analyses; thus, we only uti-
lized the Phase 1 assessment.
Classroom goal structure
Using an adaptation of the Patterns of Adaptive Learning
Survey (PALS) (Midgley et al. 2000), we assessed stu-
dents’ perceptions of their classroom environment during
Phase 2, as well as teachers’ self-reported instructional
practices. Students were asked to rate their level of
agreement with statements to measure perceptions of a
mastery (7 items; a = .78) and performance goal structure
(5 items; a = .88) on a 5-point Likert scale anchored at 1
(strongly disagree) and 5 (strongly agree). For example,
participants responded to items such as ‘In our class, it’s
important to understand the work, not just memorize it’
(mastery goal structure) and ‘In our class, the most
important thing is to look smart’ (performance goal
structure). Similarly, instructors answered questions related
to mastery instructional practices, such as ‘During class, I
often provide several different activities so that students
can choose among them’ (3 items; a = .71), and perfor-
mance instructional practices, such as ‘I point out those
56 Motiv Emot (2013) 37:50–64
123
students who do well academically as a model for the other
students’ (5 items; a = .79).
Results
In this section, we first report results regarding students’
perception of their classroom goal structures and teachers’
reports of their instructional practices to further support our
claim that the summer program did, indeed, emphasize
mastery and de-emphasize performance goal-related con-
cerns. Next, we report results pertaining to changes in
achievement goal orientations and related contingencies of
self-worth across the three phases. Finally, we examine the
covariation of performance goal orientations and contin-
gencies of self-worth based on outperforming others and
others’ approval.
Perceptions of the learning environment
and instructional practices
As previously discussed, the summer academic program
was designed to promote engagement in the course mate-
rial and intrinsic motivation, with a decreased focus on
normative evaluation and competition. It also emphasized
intellectual curiosity and self-directed learning, which are
elements of a mastery goal structure (Ames 1992a, b). That
said, the program was not modeled on achievement goal
theory, so it was necessary to first test the assumption that
the goal structure of the program was more mastery- than
performance-focused. To this end, we examined students’
perceptions of the classroom goal structure during the
summer program. As expected, students perceived their
learning environments to be significantly more mastery-
structured (M = 4.24, SD = .49) than performance-struc-
tured (M = 1.51, SD = .56), t(104) = 33.41, p \ .001,
d = 5.17. This was also consistent with what instructors
reported regarding their instructional practices. They
reported using significantly more mastery-related practices
(M = 3.63, SD = .96) than performance-related prac-
tices (M = 2.14, SD = .81; t(19) =-6.53, p \ .001,
d = 1.68). Taken together, these results suggest that stu-
dents’ perceptions of their classroom goal structures were
consistent with what instructors had intended to create.
Changes in goal orientations and related contingencies
of self-worth
Our first research question concerned the effect of a mas-
tery-structured learning environment on students’ person-
ally endorsed goal orientations and related contingencies of
self-worth. To control for the interrelation of the dependent
variables (see Table 1 for correlations between variables),
we conducted a multivariate analysis of variance
(MANOVA), which included four of the dependent vari-
ables (performance-approach and -avoidance goal orienta-
tions, and contingencies of self-worth based on
outperforming others and others’ approval). Changes in
mastery goal orientation (the remaining dependent vari-
able) were examined in a separate analysis of covariance
(ANCOVA), because it was the only analysis for which we
included a covariate. We begin with this latter analysis and
follow with the MANOVA analysis.
To examine changes in mastery goal orientations, we
conducted a repeated measures ANCOVA of students’
mastery goal orientations across the three phases, control-
ling for individual interest in science. There was a signif-
icant effect of time (F(2, 138) = 6.46, p = .002,
g
p
2
= .09)
suggesting that personal mastery goal orientations changed
across the three phases. Interest was employed as a
covariate because the students in our sample had high
initial levels of interest (M = 4.16, SD = .64), and prior
research suggests that interest is reciprocally related to a
mastery-approach goal orientation (Harackiewicz et al.
2008). Specifically, the students in our sample had elected
to enroll in a science course from a variety of available
courses in the social and natural sciences, as well as the
humanities. Therefore, we wished to examine changes in
mastery goal orientation independent from the influence of
their interest. As depicted in Fig. 1, a significant linear
trend was also found (F(1, 69) = 13.40, p \ .001,
g
p
2
= .16; M
adj1
= 4.30, M
adj2
= 4.36, M
adj3
= 4.37),
suggesting an increase in mastery goal orientations over
time. In an effort to understand the nature of this trend,
planned contrasts were performed, which indicated that
there was an increase from Phase 1 to Phase 2 (F(1,
69) = 7.62, p = .007, g
p
2
= .10), but not from Phase 2 to
Phase 3 (F(1, 69) \ 1, p = .45, g
p
2
= .01). Taken together,
these results suggest that students’ mastery goal orientations
were augmented while engaging in the mastery-structured
learning environment and were sustained 6 months after
returning to their home learning environments.
Next, we conducted a repeated measures MANOVA on
the remaining dependent variables: performance-approach
and performance-avoidance goal orientations, and contin-
gent self-worth based on outperforming others and others’
approval. The test yielded a significant multivariate effect
of time (F(8, 63) = 2.39, p = .025, g
p
2
= .23) indicating
statistically significant changes across time among the
dependent variables. A series of follow-up repeated mea-
sures ANOVAs then tested changes in each of the depen-
dent variables across the three phases. The first analyses
yielded the predicted effects of time for performance-
approach (F(2, 140) = 4.64, p = .01, g
p
2
= .06) and per-
formance-avoidance (F(2, 140) = 5.60, p = .005, g
p
2
=
.07) orientations. These results indicate that students’
Motiv Emot (2013) 37:50–64 57
123
endorsement of performance-approach (M
1
= 3.22, M
2
=
2.95, M
3
= 3.23) and performance-avoidance (M
1
= 3.39,
M
2
= 3.10, M
3
= 3.36) goal orientations decreased during
the summer program and then returned to previous levels
when they returned to their home environment (see Fig. 1).
The quadratic trends for these effects were also statistically
significant for both performance-approach goals (F(1, 70) =
9.92, p = .002, g
p
2
= .12) and performance-avoidance
goals (F(1, 70) = 11.46, p = .001, g
p
2
= .14), suggesting
that the mastery goal structure may have attenuated their
performance-related goals and concerns during the summer
program.
A similar effect was found for students’ contingency of
self-worth based on outperforming others. A repeated
measures ANOVA revealed a statistically significant effect
for time (F(2, 140) = 5.73, p = .004, g
p
2
= .08). The
quadratic trend was also significant (F(1, 70) = 10.15,
p = .002, g
p
2
= .13; M
1
= 3.82, M
2
= 3.60, M
3
= 3.79;
see Fig. 2), suggesting that concerns about outperforming
other students were attenuated during the summer program
and returned to previous levels when returning to their
home environment.
Contrary to our predictions, however, self-worth con-
tingent on others’ approval did not significantly change
across the three phases (F(2, 140) = 1.10, p = .34,
g
p
2
= .02; M
1
= 2.79, M
2
= 2.85, M
3
= 2.91; see Fig. 2).
We had anticipated the contingency of self-worth based on
others’ approval to decrease while participating in the
mastery-structured program, but this prediction was not
observed.
Growth curve covariation: performance goal
orientations and related contingencies of self-worth
To examine whether the change in performance goal ori-
entations were related to the changes in contingencies of
self-worth, we tested four growth curve models, each
specifically designed to test the correlation of their change
rates. The models tested were performance-approach goal
Table 1 Correlations between goal orientations and related contingencies of self-worth at all three phases
1 2 3456789101112131415
1 Mastery
1
2 Mastery
2
.79***
3 Mastery
3
.68*** .71***
4 Performance-approach
1
.23** .23* .15
5 Performance-approach
2
.17 .11 .08 .73***
6 Performance-approach
3
.22* .26* .28** .66*** .66***
7 Performance-avoidance
1
.21* .19 .12 .91*** .67*** .67***
8 Performance-avoidance
2
.14 .09 .14 .68*** .91*** .64*** .70***
9 Performance-avoidance
3
.20 .29** .24* .65*** .65*** .94*** .66*** .65***
10 CSW outperforming others
1
.03 -.00 .04 .59*** .51*** .46*** .56*** .51*** .42***
11 CSW outperforming others
2
-.00 -.04 .13 .56*** .64*** .53*** .55*** .65*** .50*** .73***
12 CSW outperforming others
3
.05 .11 .20 .52*** .52*** .67*** .56*** .54*** .63*** .67*** .69***
13 CSW others’ approval
1
-.21* -.17 -.24* .25** .25* .11 .28** .28** .10 .30*** .25** .24*
14 CSW others’ approval
2
-.19 -.15 -.23* .25** .30*** .08 .29** .31*** .09 .27** .34*** .23* .76***
15 CSW others’ approval
3
-.23* -.12 -.17 .42*** .31** .27* .43*** .34** .21 .46*** .36** .41*** .71*** .61***
Subscript numbers indicate phase of data collection
CSW contingency of self-worth
* p B .05. ** p B .01. *** p B .001
2.5
3
3.5
4
4.5
5
Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3
Strength of Endorsement
Time of Assessment
Performance-
Approach
Performance-
Avoidance
Mastery
Fig. 1 Changes in mastery (controlling for initial individual interest),
performance-approach, and performance-avoidance goal orientations
across the three phases of data collection
58 Motiv Emot (2013) 37:50–64
123
orientations with self-worth contingent on outperforming
others (Model 1), performance-avoidance goal orientations
with self-worth contingent on outperforming others (Model
2), performance-approach goal orientations with self-worth
contingent on others’ approval (Model 3), and perfor-
mance-avoidance goal orientations with self-worth con-
tingent on others’ approval (Model 4). The growth pattern
of each variable for each model was specified heuristically
with observed patterns in the repeated measures analyses
previously described. Figure 3 graphically depicts the
general model employed for these tests with the specific
measure of two processes listed for each model.
The first model examined the correlation of change
rates between performance-approach goal orientations and
self-worth contingent on outperforming others (Model 1 of
Fig. 3). Time scores for the first two phases of both vari-
ables were specified to be linear, while Phase 3 was
allowed to be freely estimated. Furthermore, the residual
variances of both variables in the first phase were set to be
correlated. The model fit the data very well (v
2
= 5.99,
df = 5, p = .31, CFI = .997, TLI = .992, and RMSEA =
.04). Changes in performance-approach goal orientations
were associated with similar changes in the contingency of
self-worth based on outperforming others, as indicated by
the statistically significant correlation between the two
slope factors (/ = .670, z = 2.28, p = .01). Thus, the
decrease in performance-approach goal orientations during
the mastery-structured summer program corresponded with
the decrease in self-worth contingent on outperforming
others; both performance-approach goal orientations and
self-worth contingent on outperforming others returned to
prior levels in Phase 3.
The second model examined the correlation of change
rates between performance-avoidance goal orientations and
self-worth contingent on outperforming others (Model 2 of
Fig. 3) and was specified in the same manner as the first
model. The fit of the model to the data was satisfactory
(v
2
= 7.58, df = 5, p = .31, CFI = .993, TLI = .978, and
RMSEA = .06). The accelerated change of performance-
avoidance goal orientations was positively associated with
accelerated change in self-worth contingent on outper-
forming others, as indicated by the significant correlation
between the two slope factors (/ = .805, z = 2.51,
p = .006). Thus, there was a similar decrease during
the mastery-structured program for performance-avoid-
ance goal orientations and self-worth contingent on
2.5
3
3.5
4
4.5
5
Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3
Strength of Endorsement
Time of Assessment
Outperforming Others
Others' Approval
Fig. 2 Changes in the contingencies of self-worth based on outper-
forming others and others’ approval across the three phases of data
collection
Fig. 3 General growth curve
model testing correlations
between slopes of performance
goal orientations and
contingencies of self-worth
based on outperforming others
and others’ approval (Models 1,
2, 3, and 4). The labels i1 and i2
refer to the intercepts for the
first and second factors,
respectively. Similarly, s1 and
s2 refer to the slopes of the first
and second factors, respectively.
Paths labeled 0 and 1 were
constrained accordingly, and
those marked with an asterisk
(*) were allowed to be freely
estimated
Motiv Emot (2013) 37:50–64 59
123
outperforming others, which returned to previous levels in
Phase 3.
The next set of analyses examined the relation of growth
curves for both performance goal orientations and self-
worth contingent on others’ approval. The first model
examined performance-approach goal orientations and the
contingencies of self-worth based on others’ approval
(Model 3 of Fig. 3), and was specified in the same manner
as Models 1 and 2. This model yielded a satisfactory fit
(v
2
= 8.16, df = 5, p = .15, CFI = .989, TLI = .966, and
RMSEA = .07), but no statistically significant correlation
of slope factors (/ = .339, z = .29, p = .39). Contrary to
our predictions, but in line with the repeated measures
analyses reported above, the trajectory of performance-
approach goal orientations and self-worth contingent on
others’ approval did not covary across the three phases.
The final model tested the correlation of slopes between
performance-avoidance goal orientations and contingencies
of self-worth based on others’ approval (Model 4 of
Fig. 3), which was specified in the same manner as pre-
vious models. The model yielded a satisfactory fit
(v
2
= 8.16, df = 5, p = .15, CFI = .989, TLI = .966, and
RMSEA = .07). As with performance-approach goal ori-
entations, there was no statistically significant correlation
of slopes (/ = .229, z = .47, p = .32). Again, these
results did not conform to our prediction that performance-
avoidance goal orientations and self-worth contingent on
others’ approval would covary across the three phases, but
are consistent with the general patterns observed for self-
worth contingent on others’ approval reported in the
repeated measure analyses.
Discussion
The present research assessed the intervening influence of a
mastery-structured learning environment on students’ per-
sonally endorsed achievement goal orientations and related
contingencies of self-worth, and their concomitant changes
over time. First, it was hypothesized that participating in
the mastery-structured environment, which emphasized
mastery goals and de-emphasized performance goals,
would be associated with increases in students’ personally
endorsed mastery goal orientations. Whether or not this
increase would be sustained over time, was not clear given
the susceptibility of goal orientations to situational changes
in the classroom environment. Results suggested that stu-
dents’ mastery goal orientations were augmented during
participation in the summer program and were sustained
when assessed 6 months after returning to their home
learning environments. That these changes remained even
after students returned to their regular school environment
is intriguing, and suggests the potential long-term benefit of
mastery-structured environments for shaping mastery goal
orientations.
We also hypothesized that the educational environment
would attenuate students’ performance goal orientations
given the de-emphasis of competition and normative
evaluation during the summer program. As expected, stu-
dents experienced a significant decrease in performance-
approach and performance-avoidance goal orientations
relative to their reported performance goal orientations
while in their home learning environments before and after
the summer program. A similar pattern was observed for
self-worth contingent on outperforming others. This was
not true, however, for self-worth contingent on others’
approval, which did not change significantly across the
three phases.
Furthermore, it was expected that changes in contin-
gencies of self-worth based on outperforming others and
others’ approval would be associated with changes in
performance goal orientations. These two contingences of
self-worth represent underlying psychological processes
through which performance goal orientations were pre-
dicted to change (see Grant and Dweck 2003; Urdan and
Mestas 2006). As expected, the growth curve analyses
suggested that changes in both performance-approach and
performance-avoidance goal orientations were associated
with similar changes in self-worth contingent on outper-
forming others. Contrary to our predictions, however,
growth trajectories for both performance goal orientations
were not associated with changes in self-worth contingent
on others’ approval. These results reveal a compelling
possibility; that changes in self-worth contingent on out-
performing others may be more susceptible to situational
change than self-worth contingent on others’ approval,
making it a potentially critical factor in shaping perfor-
mance goal orientations. In contrast, self-worth contingent
on others’ approval may be more stable over time and
across contexts. Reducing its saliency in achievement
contexts may be a less practical means of attenuating
individuals’ performance goal orientations.
Overall, our results suggest that personal performance
goal orientations are highly susceptible to changes in the
environmental goal structure. This may occur because
performance goals depend on contextual supports due to
the relative ability element, as evidenced by the concomi-
tant changes of performance goal orientations and self-
worth contingent on outperforming others. That is, the
degree to which information about relative ability is
available to students is strongly embedded in the context.
In a high mastery-structured/low performance-structured
environment, such as the summer program studied here,
information about relative ability was not readily available.
This may have made it difficult to pursue performance
goals in that context or to make judgments about relative
60 Motiv Emot (2013) 37:50–64
123
levels of competence. When students returned to more
typical classroom settings, however, they may have been
able to engage in social comparisons, thus supporting the
endorsement of performance goal orientations.
What is particularly noteworthy about these findings is
that both performance-approach and performance-avoid-
ance goal orientations decreased in relation to the summer
program and then returned to prior levels when students
returned to more traditional educational settings. While
some goal theorists have argued that performance-
approach goals may be beneficial (e.g., Harackiewicz et al.
1998, 2002; Senko et al. 2011), there is widespread
agreement that performance-avoidance goals are detri-
mental. We observed similar changes in both approach and
avoidance forms of performance goal orientations, and
changes in both types of performance goal orientations
were associated with changes in contingencies of self-
worth on outperforming others. This brings into question
the idea that an environment can emphasize competition
and normative strivings without shaping both performance-
approach and performance-avoidance goal orientations and
further highlights that caution should be used in structuring
environments that emphasize competition, as it is likely to
shape both forms of performance goal orientations.
Importantly, the mastery-structured environment also
seemed to support changes in mastery goal orientation
endorsement. And, this heightened endorsement of mastery
goal orientations was sustained even when students
returned to a more traditional classroom environment in
which performance goal orientations might be more readily
endorsed. This may have occurred, in part, because mastery
goal orientations are not linked to the desire for normative
success, allowing it to exist in a diverse array of social
climates and remain less dependent on particular situa-
tional supports.
This study helps to extend prior research on contextual
supports for achievement goal orientations in several ways.
First, given concerns about the reliance on self-reported
classroom goal structures (Linnenbrink 2004; Urdan 2001,
2010), our findings help to support the contention that the
classroom goal structure can change students’ personal
goal orientations. While there is some empirical evidence
showing that changes in classroom goal structures relate to
changes in personal goal orientations (Anderman et al.
1999; Linnenbrink 2005), most studies rely on students’
perceptions of the classroom goal structure. Thus, the
current study adds to the very limited body of research
examining how students respond to an environment
focused specifically on supporting mastery goals and
de-emphasizing performance goals. Moreover, there is a
lacuna of research examining how an intensive mastery-
focused environment relates to both immediate and sub-
sequent changes in achievement goal orientations. Our
findings regarding the potential of such an environment to
support mastery goals even when students are no longer in
the mastery-supportive environment are promising with
respect to interventions. Third, by examining concomitant
changes in contingencies of self-worth, the current study
extends prior research by examining potential underlying
psychological mechanisms that may help to explain, at
least in part, changes in performance goal orientations.
Limitations and future directions
The present research provides a foundation for future
investigations of the potential of environments to shape
achievement goal orientations. This future research should
be designed to address several limitations of the current
study. First, causal conclusions cannot be drawn from
correlational research, such as the study presented here.
Although students perceived the summer program to be
highly mastery-structured and not performance-structured,
the instructors’ reported practices were in keeping with a
mastery goal structure, and the program’s pedagogical
principles were consistent with a mastery goal structure, it
is possible other variables exerted an influence on the
observed effects. Thus, we cannot conclude that the mas-
tery goal structure of the learning environment was solely
responsible for the observed changes in achievement goal
orientations and related contingencies of self-worth. We
also cannot determine if changes in self-worth contingent
of outperforming others is, in part, responsible for changes
in performance goal orientations, or if the inverse is true.
One main intention of the present study, however, was to
begin exploring the underlying mechanisms associated
with changes in goal orientations. A greater understanding
of these mechanisms and how their manipulation affects
goal orientations will help in constructing environments
that bring about the most adaptive patterns of goal
engagement. Follow-up experimental research will need to
be conducted in order to isolate the effects of these vari-
ables and to draw causal conclusions.
Second, and related to the first point, students’ perceptions
of their classroom goal structure, as well as instructors’
reported classroom goal structure, were assessed only during
the summer program. Although there is evidence to suggest
that traditional learning environments in middle and high
schools are performance-structured (e.g., Anderman and
Midgley 1997; Midgley et al. 1995), students’ home learning
environments were not assessed either before or after their
participation in the summer program. Therefore, it is difficult
to definitively conclude that the changes observed for goal
orientations and contingencies of self-worth after the
summer program were due to a return to a performance-
structured environment, per se.
Motiv Emot (2013) 37:50–64 61
123
Additionally, the sample for the present study was
composed of high-ability adolescents who participated in a
voluntary academic summer enrichment program. Our
sample, therefore, is limited to a particular population and
subject to self-selection biases. Thus, it will be important
for future studies to replicate these findings using more
typical samples for the purpose of generalization. None-
theless, there is certainly value in understanding how goal
orientations shift among high-ability populations. High-
ability individuals are found in selective universities,
graduate and professional schools, law firms, hospitals,
think tanks, and high levels of public office, public agen-
cies, the military, corporations, and non-profit organiza-
tions, to name just a few. It is a large population with a
profound potential to influence individuals and society, for
better and for worse. Examinations of how the goal ori-
entations of highly able individuals are shaped by their
achievement contexts may lead to a better understanding of
how to design influential institutions and organizations to
bring about optimal achievement-related outcomes.
Conclusion
The present research highlights the importance of under-
standing not only the temporally proximal and distal
influence of goal structures on related contingencies of
self-worth, but also their potential role as psychological
processes through which goal orientations can be shaped.
Because goal orientations comprise a host of beliefs
regarding competence and achievement, they can be
influenced by multiple sources. Understanding which
components of goal orientations to emphasize (and which
to de-emphasize) in achievement contexts will be essential
to the design of work and learning environments and the
effectiveness with which goals are pursued.
Acknowledgments The research reported in this manuscript was
supported by a grant from the Duke Talent Identification Program to
Lisa Linnenbrink-Garcia. The findings and views reported in this
manuscript are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect the views of
Duke TIP. We also wish to thank Chongming Yang for his contri-
butions to the present research.
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... Previous achievement goal interventions have had two foci: a structure-focus and a person-focus. Structure-focused interventions aim to cultivate a mastery-based climate in the learning context (Bardach et al., 2020;Maehr & Midgley, 1996;O'Keefe, Ben-Eliyahu, & Linnenbrink-Garcia, 2013). For example, in a quasi-experimental study (Peng et al., 2013), a mastery-based climate was fostered by offering suggestions and materials for teaching practices that focused on the task-focused evaluation, recognition for individual progress, and the opportunity for choice; seventh-grade students in the mastery-based classrooms showed higher creativity compared to those the control group. ...
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Mastery-approach (MAP) goals, focusing on developing competence and acquiring task mastery, is posited to be the most optimal, beneficial type of achievement goal for academic and life outcomes. Although there is meta-analytic evidence supporting this finding, such evidence does not allow us to conclude that the extant MAP goal findings generalize across cultures. Meta-analyses have often suffered from over-representation of Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic (WEIRD) samples, reliance on bivariate correlations, and lack the ability to directly control individual-level background variables. To address these limitations, this study used nationally representative data from 80 societies (N= 612,004 adolescents) to examine the relations of MAP goals to four personality antecedents (workmastery, competitiveness, fear of failure, and mindset) and 16 consequences (i.e., task-specific motivational, achievement-related, and well-being outcomes), and tested the cross-cultural generalizability of these relations. Results showed that MAP goals were: (a) grounded primarily in positive (workmastery, competitiveness) but not negative achievement motives (fear of failure, fixed mindset); (b) most strongly predictive of well-being outcomes (e.g., life satisfaction, resilience), followed by adaptative motivational (e.g., enjoyment, perceived competent) and achievement-related (e.g., test performance, educational aspirations) outcomes; (c) weakly negatively associated with maladaptive outcomes (perceived task difficulty); and (d) uniquely predictive of various consequences, controlling for the personality antecedents and covariates. Further, the results of four different approaches provide consistent, strong support for cross-cultural generalizability of these relations, which has practical implications regarding the benefits of MAP goal pursuit in daily life and directions for educational intervention in a global context.
... Another important point is the relation between mindset and teaching approaches. In prior literature, instructors have been found to influence student mindsets and achievement [72] and their physics identity [73], particularly for students from underrepresented groups [74]. A recent study found that course grade differences by race or ethnicity were found to be twice as large in classrooms taught by the STEM faculty who endorsed a fixed mindset view than in classrooms taught by faculty who held and used a growth mindset in their teaching approaches [75]. ...
... Crocker and Wolfe (2001) stated that individuals evaluate their self-worth according to domain-specific criteria and that these judgments may have effects on self-esteem. For example, a person whose self-worth depends on academic proficiency may experience decreases in self-esteem when they fail an exam (O'Keefe, Ben-Eliyahu, & Linnenbrink-Garcia, 2013). Appearance-contingent self-worth is the degree to which a person attributes one's value as a person to his or her appearance (Sanchez & Crocker, 2005), and appearance can lead to social disapproval or rejection. ...
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The author suggests how these papers converge in portraying the nature of motivation, learning, and achievement. That portrayal proceeds from a social???cognitive framework that stresses the centrality of goals in framing whether, when, and how students are likely to approach or avoid academic tasks. He points out, however, that approach and avoidance, although an important aspect of motivation, do not fully encompass a domain that is and has been considered the fitting purview of motivation theory and research. Especially in the realm of education, the quality of engagement that eventuates is of equal if not greater importance relative to choice and direction. However, a primary question raised in these comments relates to the nature of goals and how they operate in framing action, thought, and feelings. Some of the work reflected in the wider goal theory literature as well as in some of these papers, suggests that goals are closely linked to a varying role of self in determining the nature and direction of action, feelings, and thought. Some of the work seems to limit goals to a specific kind of objective under limited circumstances. Finally, questions are raised about whether or how the work presented would define the role of context in determining motivation. Clearly, although work reflected in these papers is truly impressive, it is impressive not just for conclusions reached but also for new questions prompted.
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The author suggests how these papers converge in portraying the nature of motivation, learning, and achievement. That portrayal proceeds from a social—cognitive framework that stresses the centrality of goals in framing whether, when, and how students are likely to approach or avoid academic tasks. He points out, however, that approach and avoidance, although an important aspect of motivation, do not fully encompass a domain that is and has been considered the fitting purview of motivation theory and research. Especially in the realm of education, the quality of engagement that eventuates is of equal if not greater importance relative to choice and direction. However, a primary question raised in these comments relates to the nature of goals and how they operate in framing action, thought, and feelings. Some of the work reflected in the wider goal theory literature as well as in some of these papers, suggests that goals are closely linked to a varying role of self in determining the nature and direction of action, feelings, and thought. Some of the work seems to limit goals to a specific kind of objective under limited circumstances. Finally, questions are raised about whether or how the work presented would define the role of context in determining motivation. Clearly, although work reflected in these papers is truly impressive, it is impressive not just for conclusions reached but also for new questions prompted.