The Challenges and Promise of Research on Classroom Goal Structures

Authored by: Tim Urdan

Handbook of Research on Schools, Schooling, and Human Development

Print publication date:  May  2010
Online publication date:  June  2010

Print ISBN: 9780805859485
eBook ISBN: 9780203874844
Adobe ISBN: 9781135283872


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Achievement goal theory is one of the dominant frameworks for research on motivation, in part because of its emphasis on the contextual influences on achievement goals. Goal researchers have always argued that features of the achievement situation, including performance feedback (E. S. Elliott & Dweck, 1988), grouping and reward structures in the classroom (Ames & Felker, 1979), and even cultural values (Maehr & Nicholls, 1980) affect the goals that people pursue. This early research and speculation was followed by the development of theory and research regarding the specific policies and practices of educators that can create classroom goal structures (Ames, 1992; Ames & Archer, 1988; Maehr & Midgley, 1991). Classroom goal structures are defined as the policies, practices, and perhaps shared beliefs or norms among students in a classroom that make mastery or performance goals salient.

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