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Motivational goals: a cross sectional perspective

Mansfield, C. (2008) Motivational goals: a cross sectional perspective. In: 11th International Conference on Motivation, 21 - 23 August, Turku, Finland

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This paper presents preliminary findings from a cross sectional study of student motivation in West Australian secondary schools. Increasingly researchers using Goal Theory have been investigating how both academic and social goals are significant to adolescent students’ learning and school achievement, however, relatively little is known about how these goals may change over time. Are mastery goals as prevalent in final year secondary school students as they are in first year students? Do social goals, such as relationship goals strengthen, weaken or remain the same during the five years at school between early and late adolescence?

This mixed method study examines the academic and social motivational goals of 12/13 year olds and 16/17 year olds and makes comparisons to ascertain changes in motivational goals during secondary schooling experiences. A questionnaire using both rating scale items and open ended questions determined the nature of students’ goals and why these goals were deemed important. Focus group interviews were used to investigate further why particular goals were important at particular points in time.

This study develops understandings about why academic and social goals might be prevalent at particular stages of adolescence and extends the ongoing discussion about multiple goals in learning contexts. The findings that there are significant changes in both academic and social goals during adolescence have implications for educators who aim to provide developmentally appropriate learning environments for adolescents and for researchers investigating how motivation and goals change over time.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
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