This article examines the classroom learning environment in relation to achievement goal theory of motivation. Classroom structures are described in terms of how they make different types of achievement goals salient and as a consequence elicit qualitatively different patterns of motivation. Task, evaluation and recognition, and authority dimensions of classrooms are presented as examples of structures that can influence children's orientation toward different achievement goals. Central to the thesis of this article is a perspective that argues for an identification of classroom structures that can contribute to a mastery orientation, a systematic analysis of these structures, and a determination of how these structures relate to each other. The ways in which interventions must address the independency among these structures are discussed in terms of how they influence student motivation.
We studied how specific motivational processes are related to the salience of mastery and performance goals in actual classroom settings. One hundred seventy-six students attending a junior high/high school for academically advanced students were randomly selected from one of their classes and responded to a questionnaire on their perceptions of the classroom goal orientation, use of effective learning strategies, task choices, attitudes, and causal attributions. Students who perceived an emphasis on mastery goals in the classroom reported using more effective strategies, preferred challenging tasks, had a more positive attitude toward the class, and had a stronger belief that success follows from one's effort. Students who perceived performance goals as salient tended to focus on their ability, evaluating their ability negatively and attributing failure to lack of ability. The pattern and strength of the findings suggest that the classroom goal orientation may facilitate the maintenance of adaptive motivation patterns when mastery goals are salient and are adopted by students.
Changes in students’ achievement values in mathematics and reading were examined in a sample of children and early adolescents. Hierarchical linear modeling techniques were used to account for both classroom- and student-level effects. At the student level, positive changes in students’ achievement values were associated positively with self-concept of ability and the previous year’s achievement values in both reading and math. Measures of teachers’ mastery- and performance-oriented instructional practices were included in the full HLM model. Students experienced decrements in achievement values, after controlling for other student and classroom level variables, in classrooms where performance-oriented instructional practices were used. In the full model, self-concept of ability was related positively to increases in achievement values, whereas gender was unrelated to changes in achievement values.