Student beliefs about learning and their relationships with ability, academic course satisfaction and performance

Year: 1996

Author: Archer, Jennifer, Bourke, Sid, Cantwell, Robert

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The paper addresses relationships between self reports of achievement goals (Archer, 1994) and control beliefs (Cantwell & Moore, 1995), and their relationships with measures of general abilities (ACER, 1982), course satisfaction (Ramsden 1990) and course achievement. Participants in the study were 223 mature-age students completing a foundation course as preparation for undergraduate university entry. Constructs for achievement goals (mastery, performance and academic alienation) and control beliefs (adaptive, inflexible and irresolute) were developed using a series of one-factor congeneric models. The first part of the study sought to specify the interrelationships between control beliefs and achievement, and to investigate the degree of independence between student beliefs and more general verbal reasoning abilities. In the second part of the study, the relationships between beliefs, ability and the measures of course satisfaction and course achievement were investigated and modelled.

Preliminary results indicate that, for these students, both mastery and performance goals have positive correlations with adaptive control and negative correlations with irresolute control. Academic alienation exhibited a different pattern being significantly negatively correlated only with inflexible control. Only a mastery orientation was significantly correlated with ability. Mastery goals and adaptive control were both associated with greater course satisfaction while irresolute control was associated with lower course satisfaction. Of all six achievement goals and control beliefs, only adaptive control was significantly correlated with course achievement. Theoretical and applied implications of these result are discussed.