Turning motivation into self regulation

Year: 1998


Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In terms of achievement goal theory, links have been made between motivational orientations and students' regulation of their learning strategies. In practice, however, these links can appear somewhat tenuous. A motivational intention does not translate automatically into the necessary behaviours to realise the intention, or even the understanding that effective strategies are required. A student who wants to develop a deep understanding of a subject (a mastery achievement goal) does not always have the skill or the will to achieve her goal. However, her desire to understand should help her to persist, to expend effort, and to be alert for the sorts of strategies likely to help her to achieve her goal. What role then does the teacher have in these two related areas: encouraging students' adoption of a mastery achievement goal; and alerting students to the use of effective learning strategies?

The data for the present study are detailed interviews (one half to three quarters of an hour in length) with 54 undergraduate students in their first year, followed by 42 follow-up interviews in their second year. The students were questioned about their motivational orientations, their use of learning strategies, their attributions for success and failure, their confidence in their academic abilities, their emotional reactions to their academic work, and the role of their teachers (in high school) and lecturers (in university) in helping them to learn. A careful analysis of the transcripts will help to add light to the question of how motivational goals translate into self-regulated behaviour and successful performance.