The role of teacher feedback–feedforward and personal best goal setting in students’ mathematics achievement

a goal setting theory perspective

Emma C. Burns*, Andrew J. Martin, Paul A. Evans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Teacher feedback in mathematics is a potential strategy for redressing declining international trends in high school mathematics achievement. Effective feedback comprises corrective information (feedback) and guidance for improvement (feedforward)—referred to herein as ‘feedback–feedforward’. Relatively little research has examined the motivational mechanisms linking teacher feedback to achievement, with even less linking feedback–feedforward to achievement. Goal setting theory proposes that goal setting, especially growth-oriented (e.g. personal best) goal setting, may mediate the positive impact of feedback on achievement. Using structural equation modelling, this study (N = 362 Australian students) builds on this to examine if (a) teacher feedback–feedforward and PB goal setting predicted achievement in mathematics and (b) PB goal setting mediated the link between teacher feedback–feedforward and achievement. Mathematics teacher feedback–feedforward predicted PB goal setting, PB goal setting predicted achievement, and PB goal setting fully mediated the link between feedback–feedforward and achievement. Implications for mathematics teacher feedback–feedforward and goal-setting interventions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEducational Psychology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • mathematics motivation
  • mathematics achievement
  • goal setting
  • feedback
  • growth

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