Poster Number

046

Session Title

The College Experience

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Psychology

Faculty Mentor

Matthew Hayes, Ph.D.

Abstract

The present study examined whether the effect of competition on achievement goals depends on student ability. The 129 college students who participated in this study received a packet that included a short learning activity with corresponding questions, an achievement goal questionnaire, and demographic items. Half of the packets contained instructions that had students answer the questions to the best of their ability, which created a non-competitive environment. The other half contained instructions that had students do the best that they could, because their scores would be ranked against those of their classmates. This facilitated classroom competition. Afterward, the students completed a questionnaire to assess the achievement goals used to complete the learning activity. Finally, the students answered demographic questions. Self-reported GPA was used to measure student ability. The results found that competition did not affect achievement goals for any students; it is possible that the competitive manipulation was not strong enough or that achievement goals are more trait-based than state-based in nature. It was found that low-ability students tended to have approach motivation, as they either wanted to learn the material or do better than their peers. Overall, students exhibited more performance goals than mastery goals. Students who did have mastery goals tended to have an approach motivation, meaning that they wanted to learn the material from the activity. This indicates that student learning at the collegiate level is not entirely performance-oriented for all students. It can be concluded that competition does not affect students’ achievement goals when facilitated through instruction.

Previously Presented/Performed?

Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, April 2020; Sixth Annual Showcase of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (SOURCE), Winthrop University, April 2020

Start Date

24-4-2020 12:00 AM

Included in

Psychology Commons

Share

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Apr 24th, 12:00 AM

The Effects of Competition and Student Ability on Achievement Goals

The present study examined whether the effect of competition on achievement goals depends on student ability. The 129 college students who participated in this study received a packet that included a short learning activity with corresponding questions, an achievement goal questionnaire, and demographic items. Half of the packets contained instructions that had students answer the questions to the best of their ability, which created a non-competitive environment. The other half contained instructions that had students do the best that they could, because their scores would be ranked against those of their classmates. This facilitated classroom competition. Afterward, the students completed a questionnaire to assess the achievement goals used to complete the learning activity. Finally, the students answered demographic questions. Self-reported GPA was used to measure student ability. The results found that competition did not affect achievement goals for any students; it is possible that the competitive manipulation was not strong enough or that achievement goals are more trait-based than state-based in nature. It was found that low-ability students tended to have approach motivation, as they either wanted to learn the material or do better than their peers. Overall, students exhibited more performance goals than mastery goals. Students who did have mastery goals tended to have an approach motivation, meaning that they wanted to learn the material from the activity. This indicates that student learning at the collegiate level is not entirely performance-oriented for all students. It can be concluded that competition does not affect students’ achievement goals when facilitated through instruction.

 

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