Teachers' goal orientations and classroom behaviours: an achievement-goal perspective

Year: 2013

Author: George, Sindu, Dorman, Jeffrey, Richardson, Paul

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Background Motivation researchers have provided a wealth of details about a wide array of teacher behaviours, which are positively associated with student motivation.  Although student motivation has long been a major focus of basic and applied research in educational psychology, until recently there has been surprisingly little research on teacher motivation. While there is a body of literature that highlights teachers’ self-efficacy as a strong predictor of their classroom behaviours, Butler (2007) contends that, teacher self-efficacy researchers have ignored the different goals of teachers, which are, as Wheatley (2005) suggested, irreducible parts of self-efficacy. Butler proposed that Achievement-Goal Theory could provide a useful framework for studying teacher motivation and identified five goal orientations of teachers: mastery, ability-approach, ability-avoidance, work-avoidance, and relational goal orientations. Based on the existing theoretical and empirical evidence, the current study considers four behavioural dimensions, namely, expectation, structure, autonomy support, and relatedness which could have significant influence on students’ learning outcomes. Objectives The current paper reports research on the impact of teachers’ mastery, work-avoidance, and relational goal orientations on the four dimensions of classroom behaviours: expectation, structure, autonomy support, and relatedness. Method A sample of 257 Victorian primary (n=115), and secondary school teachers (n =132), responded to the survey. Data on teachers’ goal orientations were collected using Goal Orientations for Teaching Scale (Butler, 2012), and data on teachers’ behavioural dimensions were collected using four self-report scales adopted from Teacher Style Scale (Watt & Richardson, 2007) and Teacher as Social Context Questionnaire (Belmont, Skinner, Wellborn, & Connell, 1988).  Simple, multiple, and canonical correlation analyses explored the relationships among the variables, and, structural equation modeling using AMOS 20 tested the postulated model involving three goal orientations and four dimensions of classroom  behaviours of teachers. Results Confirmatory factor analyses supported the three scale structure for the goal orientations for teaching scale, and the four scale structure for teachers’ classroom behaviours. The internal consistency reliability indices confirmed the high reliability of all scales. Results revealed relational goal orientation of teachers as the strongest predictor of expectation (β=.45, p< 001) and relatedness (β=.63, p<001), while work-avoidance goal orientation strongly predicted structure (β= -.40, p<001) and autonomy support (β= -.39, p<001). Significance The paper underscores the vital role of teachers’ own goal orientations in predicting their different classroom behaviours and contributes to the research on teachers’ goals, which is still in the early stages, by addressing the consequences of different goal orientations of teachers.