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This study investigated Classroom goal structure, student motivation and academic achievement among secondary school students. Two hundred and ninety-eight (298) participants comprising 135 males and 163 females participated in the study. Participants were randomly selected from 3 secondary schools. Their ages ranged between 10 to 24 years with a mean age of 15.52 years (SD = 2.26). Two hypotheses were formulated for this study. Cross sectional design was adopted. Regression result indicated that Classroom goal structure (β = .21, p< .001) significantly predicted academic achievement. Motivation (β = .17, p< .01) significantly predict academic achievement Implications of the study were stated, and suggestions made for further studies.



Background to the Study

Academic achievement has become a trending issue of priority to make students academic achievement better and higher (Azmoundeh, 2003).

Academic achievement cannot be executed outside the classroom because from this area where transfer thought begins and students presence in classroom impacts improvement of their ability in doing their best to achieve academic excellence (Appleton,2007).

The Nigerian classroom has changed significantly over the past 25 years. Computers and interactive software are common in most classrooms today, and rows of student desks have been replaced with moveable tables and chairs that promote collaborative learning among two or more students. Many states and private schools have reduced class size to increase learning opportunities, especially for young or high-risk students (Elias,2002).

In America, reform at the middle school level has introduced block scheduling, advisory teams, schools-within-schools, and other structural changes to meet the developmental needs of young adolescents (Eccles 2004). Additionally, major professional organizations such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics have called for paradigm shifts in how teachers think about learning and teaching. Rather than focusing on rote learning and memorization, curriculum standards that began to emerge in the early 1990s emphasized the importance of individual inquiry, problem solving, collaborative learning, and mastery of key concepts. As these reforms were beginning to take hold, new federal legislation, the Leave No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, was enacted to increase accountability and performance standards for public schools. It is anticipated that this new legislation will close achievement gaps and ensure that all students, regardless of any existing disadvantage, will make significant achievement gains in school (Maehr,1994)

Classroom goal structure are used to assess achievement goals, and the influence of different achievement goals on various developmental outcomes, including measures of motivation to learn, classroom engagement and adjustment, and academic achievement ( Ames, 1990).

Educational reform has mandated that every child be granted the educational opportunities that he/she needs to succeed academically. An individual learner’s achievement goal orientation may be further influenced by the goal orientation of the classroom context (Ames & Archer, 1988; Maehr & Midgley, 1996; Midgley & Urdan, 2001). Teachers who emphasize a learning or mastery goal orientation in their classroom tend to use such practices as collaborative or other forms of group learning, more learner-centered approaches to instruction, an emphasis on effort and improvement, and more authentic, individualized assignments and assessments, such as the use of portfolios. In contrast, teachers who emphasize a performance goal orientation tend to emphasize competition, grades, comparison and performance (Anderman & Maehr, 1994).

Anderman and Young (1994) found that the use of performance-oriented instructional strategies was related to lower levels of mastery goal orientation in science classrooms. Anderman and Anderman (1999) administered the Patterns of Adaptive Learning Survey (PALS; Midgley, Maehr, Hicks, Roeser, Urdan, Anderman, Kaplan, Arunkumar, & Middleton, 1997) including the perceptions of classroom goal structure subscale. This study supported the findings of the Anderman and Young (1994) study, and demonstrated that students’ perceptions of the goal structure in the classroom predicted their personal goal orientations. Roeser, Midgley, and Urdan (1996) showed that eighth grade students’ perceptions of a task goal structure in the classroom was positively related to self-efficacy which was mediated through personal task goals leading their academic achievement.

In contrast, perceiving a relative-ability classroom goal structure was negatively related to self-efficacy as mediated through personal task goals. Salisbury-Glennon and Gorrell (1999) found that sixth and seventh grade students in a classroom context that was observed to have a mastery oriented task goal structure demonstrated a significantly greater use of the self-regulated learning strategies of goal-setting and planning, self-evaluation, and seeking social assistance from adults than sixth and seventh grade students at the same school, but who were in a classroom that was observed to have a performance oriented task goal structure..Classroom and other learning environments have frequently been described in terms of the ways in which certain kinds of instructional demands, situational constraints, or psychosocial characteristics relate to various cognitive and

affective outcomes in students. However, there has been little systematic analysis of actual classroom structures examining how certain structures within the classroom can make different goals salient.

Rosenholtz & Simpson, 1984; Stipek & Daniels, 1988 identify certain structures that have been found to impact a range of motivational variables, especially how students view their ability and the degree to which ability becomes an evaluative dimension of the classroom. These structures include, but are not limited to, the design of tasks and learning activities, evaluation practices and use of rewards, and distribution of authority or responsibility. Classroom goal structure is divide into three dimensions: mastery goal orientation(understanding teaching materials),performance approach(students competition for obtaining better score and their encouragements) and performance avoidance(students tries not to lag behind, this means that they avoid obtaining low scores(caleon,2013)

classroom goal structure is one of the factor suggested to the impact of student’s academic achievement and is formed based on the goals and values of the school(alkharusi,2015).

Midgley (2007) subsequently applied the trichotomous model of personal achievement goals to the classroom structure by differentiating• the performance goal structure in term of approach and avoidance. This resulted in three separate classroom goal structures a master goal structure, in which the classroom environment comes on emerging in academic work to develop competence, especially task and interpersonally based competence (b) personal performance approach goal structure, in which the classroom environment focuses on engaging in academic work to demonstrate competence, especially normative competence and (c) a performance avoidance goal structure, in which the classroom environment focuses on engaging in academic work to avoid demonstrating incompetence, especially normative incompetence.

Evidence documents motivation as an important determinant predicting students’ achievement (Beal & Stevens, 2007; Broussard & Garrsion, 2004; Johnson, 1996; Sandra, 2002; E. M. Skaalvik & S. Skaalvik, 2006; Zhu & Leung, 2011).Motivation, like other attitudinal behaviors, encompasses many aspects and one such aspect is motivational orientations. According to Steward, Bachman, and Johnson (2010), motivational orientations act as a driving force that encourages a person to engage in a task. Motivational orientations consist of several constructs and among these are intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, personal relevance, self-efficacy, self-determination, and assessment anxiety.

Intrinsic motivation is an inner force that motivates students to engage in academic activities, because they are interested in learning and they enjoy the learning process as well (Schiefele, 1991). Harter (1978) explained that intrinsic motivation is the true drive in human nature, which drives individuals to search for and to face new challenges. Their abilities are put to the test and they are eager to learn even when there are no external rewards to be won. Students with learning goals of seeking understanding for mastery of science content and skills are said to be intrinsically motivated (Cavallo, Rozman, Blinkenstaff, & Walker, 2003).

Motivation is a fundamental recipe for academic success. It involves internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested and committed to job, role, or subject, or to make an effort to attain a goal. Dornyei  argued that motivation explains why people decide to do something, how hard they are going to pursue it, and how long they are willing to sustain the activity. In order words, “motivation is what gets you going, keeps you going, and determines where you’re trying to go”. Alderman indicates that those students who have optimum motivation have an edge because they have adaptive attitudes and strategies, such as maintaining intrinsic interest, goal setting, and self-monitoring. Besides, motivational variables interact with cognitive, behavioral, and contextual factors to upset self-regulation.

According to Holbrook, Rannikmae, Yager, and De Vreese (2003), students perceive science education as relevant to them through three areas: Firstly, usefulness of science in the society which means they are more interested to learn if the content is related to societal issues; Secondly, students’ interest towards science learning which means that students are motivated to learn and do the tasks and activities in science; and Lastly, importance of science in the course they are taking which means the science content learnt is meaningful and useful to them.

Statement of the problem

A situation where there are no better building structure of secondary schools in Nigeria(including both government and private schools).no conducive environment for learning, teachers are almost incompetent in their field of specialization, lack of appropriate educational facilities, lack of control of classroom environment and in active participation of the secondary school students in learning process, all affects the academic achievement of secondary school students (ellias,2002)  are some of the problems that propelled this research.

Factors such as classroom environment, self belief, self esteem, mastery goal orientation and emotional stability that affect student’s motivation also propelled this study.

Thus, these research problems will addressed in this study:

  1. Would classroom goal structure significantly predict the academic achievement of secondary school students?
  2. Will motivation significantly predict the academic achievement of secondary school students?

Purpose of study

The main purposes of this study are as follows:

  1. To find out if whether classroom goal structure will significantly predict academic achievement of secondary school students.
  2. To investigate whether there will be a statistically significant prediction of motivation on academic achievement of secondary school students

Operational definition of terms

Classroom goal structure: is been described in terms of the ways in which certain kinds of instructional demands, situational constraints, or psychosocial characteristics relate to various cognitive and affective outcomes in students as measured by Patterns of Adaptive Learning Survey (PALS) developed by Midgley,et al (2002).

 Student Motivation: driving force that makes a student to act or behave in a particular way as measured by inventory of school motivation developed by Mclerney et al, (1997).

 Academic Achievement: refers to an accomplishment in academics done successfully with effort, skill or courage as measured by Utrecht work engagement scale developed by Schaufeli, (2003).


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