Goals and control: exploring relationships between two types of motivational constructs and their effects on university students’ emotions and achievement

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Daniels, Lia Marie
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Perceived control (Rothbaum, Weisz, & Snyder, 1982) and achievement goals (Dweck & Leggett, 1988) are two widely studied motivational constructs that influence students’ emotions and achievement. The central focus of this dissertation was to explore the associations between achievement goals and perceived control in three studies. Each study used a separate cohort of first-year college students taken from the Motivation and Academic Achievement (MAACH) Project (1992-2005, N = 10,053). Study 1 (n = 752) was descriptive and tested the associations between goals, control, and attributions. The results demonstrated that primary control was very clearly defined by the controllability dimension of attributions; however, the other variables were less clear. The purpose of Study 2 (n = 360) was to test for reciprocal relationships between goals and control by using a two-wave four-variable cross-lag panel model. The best predictor of each Time 2 variable was its corresponding Time 1 counterpart. Additionally, the results showed that Time 1 mastery goals positively predicted Time 2 primary and secondary control, but no other relationships emerged. Study 3 (n = 251) extended the relationships between goals and control to predict students’ emotions and achievement. The direct and indirect effects implied by the following longitudinal model were tested: goals → control → emotions → achievement (Pekrun, 2006). Mastery goals positively predicted primary and secondary control, whereas performance goals positively predicted primary control only. Primary control was the main mediator between goals and negative emotions. Additionally, primary control had a positive direct effect on achievement, and thus mediated the effects of both mastery and performance goals on this outcome. Secondary control had a negative direct effect on achievement and consequently acted as a negative mediator between mastery goals and achievement. For mastery goals, anger, anxiety, and boredom functioned as positive mediators with achievement. These emotions also positively mediated the effects of primary control on achievement. Results of the three studies are discussed in terms of contributions to the separate literatures on achievement goals and perceived control and in terms of implications for students in new and challenging achievement settings.
achievement goals, perceived control, emotions