A New look at an old problem: examining the relation between goals and achievement in a domain-specific context

Natasha R. Magson, Rhonda Craven, Genevieve F. Nelson, Alexander Seeshing Yeung

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


Traditional achievement goal theory posited that students’ Mastery goal orientations are positively related to desirable educational outcomes, whilst a Performance goal orientation is detrimental to such outcomes. However, one significant limitation of Mastery goal research is the failure to consistently find a positive link between Mastery goals and academic performance. Despite early agreement among researchers on the effects of various goals on achievement, more recent research has revealed a more complex relation and some researchers have begun to question whether or not goals can predict achievement at all. In the pas it has been assumed that student motivation is generally consistent across school subject, however, it is suggested here that an explanation for the inconsistent finding may be that goals operate differently in various academic settings and as a result global measures of students’ motivational goals may be inadequate. As such, the purpose of the current study was to examine the relation between students’ motivational goals and academic achievement in both domain general and domain-specific contexts in order to ascertain whether the latter produced more theoretical consistency. A total of 476 Australian secondary students completed self-report motivational measures and a standardised achievement test. Confirmatory factor analyses showed support for the domain-specificity of motivational goals and demonstrated that both the domain-general and domain-specific motivational measures were demonstrated more theoretically consistent results when examined in a domain-specific context. It was concluded that in order to capture the true complexity of how student goals operate in specific subjects, it may be more appropriate to use domain-specific motivational measures. Theoretical and practical implications, potential limitations, and directions for future research are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 5th International Biennial SELF Research Conference 2009
Subtitle of host publicationenabling human potential : the centrality of self and identity
Place of PublicationUK
PublisherUniversity of Oxford
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational Biennial SELF Research Conference (5th : 2009) - Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Duration: 13 Jan 200915 Jan 2009


ConferenceInternational Biennial SELF Research Conference (5th : 2009)
CityDubai, United Arab Emirates


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