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Achievement Goals in Educational Contexts: A Social Psychology Perspective

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Abstract

Research on achievement goals usually defines mastery goals as the desire to acquire knowledge, and performance goals as the desire to outperform (or not to underperform) others. Educational contexts are most of the time social contexts, involving various persons and groups, of various hierarchical positions, and various cultural and ideological contexts. Surprisingly, most research in the achievement goal field has been conducted at an individual level of analysis. In the present paper, we will review the social consequences and antecedents of goal endorsement. This research indicates that goals strongly affect the way one behaves with co-learners. Moreover, it suggests that more than merely individual dispositions, goals reflect the social relation students have with other persons, institutions, and with the society to which they belong. We conclude this paper by setting an agenda for future achievement goal research.

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