Re-conceptualizing achievement goals from a cultural perspective

Year: 2003

Author: Ng, Chi-hung

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Past studies on achievement goals showed that mastery and performance goals would have distinguished effects on both learning processes and outcomes. Recent studies in the field have begun to explore these goals within different learning contexts. One important contextual consideration is how cultural influences affect the operation of achievement goals. While achievement goals can still be considered as individual's cognitive purposes for learning and achievement, these cognitions within a specific cultural context are exposed continually to the impact of different cultural values, beliefs and practices. This paper argues that achievement goals can be recast as a cultural construction solidified after internalization of cultural values at the individual level. To forge a cultural re-configuration of achievement goals and their effects, I first reviewed research on achievement goals among Asian students, mainly from different Chinese societies, highlighting some notable cultural differences in findings. I then proposed a model showing how both mastery goals and different forms of performance goals interact within a complex goal network among Chinese students. It is argued that achievement goals not only provide these students with a personal sense of purposes for learning, they also help them adjust effectively to sociocultural norms or demands related to learning and achievement.