Chinese student teachers' achievement goal orientations - Does collectivism really matter?

Year: 2003

Author: Leung, Man-tak, Chan, Kwok-wai

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Over the past several decades of research, consistent differences in academic achievement among students of various racial groups and of different nations have been well-documented. More recent models in accounting for cross-national differences in academic achievement centered on the importance of cultural values (Chen & Uttal, 1988; Stevenson & Lee, 1990). Chen, Stevenson, Hayward, and Burgess (1995) advocated that cultural values and beliefs would be important antecedents affecting students' motivation and learning behaviour, subsequently lead to the academic achievement.

Hau and Salili (1996) asserted that: "Cultural values of collectivism and emphasis on hard work, effort and perseverance have important implications on Chinese achievement orientations. There is some converging empirical evidence from a number of researches suggesting that Chinese are learning goal oriented and attribute their performance more to their effort than to their ability" (p. 129). Based on these speculations, it appears that cultural values such as collectivism and individualism may have influence on the motivational orientations adopted by the students. Recent researches on achievement goals had identified two goals: learning goal and performance goal. There are quite a number of researches that linked achievement goals and the learning strategies/cognitive engagement endorsed/spent by the students. Nolen's (1988) study implicated that task orientation (learning goal oriented) was positively correlated with use of strategies requiring deep processing of information. Greene and Miller's (1996) study had its significance in identifying that performance goals are positively correlated with shallow cognitive engagement. Kong and Hau's (1995) study implicated learning goal orientation is more adaptive in Chinese students. Therefore, with respect to the above findings, converging and significant conclusion can be drawn that achievement goal orientations have direct influences on the learning strategies/cognitive engagement endorse/spent by students in academic achievement behaviours.

In sum, students' learning behaviours should be studied through the mediational effects from cultural and socio-cultural factors. However, most of the studies were based on speculations rather than empirical investigations. It is therefore advocated to examine the relationships through systematic investigation of cultural values, achievement goals and learning strategies.