The Chicken and the Egg: Causal ordering of goals and self-concept and its effect on academic achievement

Year: 2003

Author: Dowson, Martin, Barker, Katrina, McInerney, Dennis

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This study examines causal relations between students' academic achievement and their multidimensional and hierarchically arranged academic goal orientations and academic self-concepts. Specifically, the study tests a series of models (using data collected over three waves from over 2000 students) positing different causal and non-causal orderings of academic goal orientations, academic self-concepts and achievement in mathematics and English. For both English and mathematics achievement, the models positing a goals to self-concept to achievement ordering (with all fit indices exceeding criterion values) were superior to all other causal and non-causal models tested in the research - and also to nested versions of the preferred models. The results of the study suggest that students' interacting goals and self-concepts provide a cogent explanation for students' achievement across domains.