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Contemp Educ Psychol. 2000 Jan;25(1):105-115.

What Is It That I'm Trying to Achieve? Classroom Goals from a Content Perspective.

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  • Department of Human Development, University of Maryland


In this article, goals are discussed with respect to content, that is, as cognitive representations of what it is that an individual is trying to achieve in a given situation. In support of this perspective, I argue that a focus on the content of students' goals can provide unique and valuable insights into ways in which students' multiple social and academic goals might influence their academic accomplishments. Several models of relations between multiple goals are described. First, from a developmental perspective, relations among social and academic goals might be one-directional, with fundamental orientations toward the self and the social environment guiding efforts to be academically competent. Second, relations between goals also can be complementary, with social and task-related goal pursuit independently contributing to academic achievement. Finally, relations between social and academic goal pursuit can be reciprocal and hierarchical in nature, reflecting students' beliefs about how to achieve academic success. The significance of a goal content perspective in relation to other goal-related constructs also is discussed. Copyright 2000 Academic Press.

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