Researchers have suggested that some self-learning strategies could outperform IQ in predicting achievement. Lee and colleagues conducted three experiments to explore the effects of three types of achievement goals of students’ self-control, plausibly the main subset of self-regulation. With experimentally manipulated goals assigned to students through different instructions given about set tasks, two aspects were investigated: attention control and inhibitory control after negative feedback. Results were based on accuracy and reaction time on a continuous performance test for experiment 1 and a Stroop test for experiments 2 and 3. Secondary school students (mean age = 13.5 – 14.0) and college students (mean age = 23) in Korea were randomly assigned to one of three goal achievement conditions:
- mastery approach goal (MAP)
- performance-approach goal (PAP)
- performance-avoidance goal (PAV)
Mastery-oriented students engage to attain achievement to develop their own competence. Students with a performance-approach goal and a performance-avoidance goal pursue achievement to demonstrate their competence, while the former strives to outperform others and confirm their superiority, the latter avoids performing worse than others and hides their inferiority. All three experiments and tests were performed through computer interface. After controlling for initial scores, the results of three experiments are summarized as follows.
- In experiment 1, in which a fourth group with a goal free approach was included, was focused on attention control. The MAP group performed significantly better than the students in PAP (ES = +0.52) and the no goal control group (ES = +0.55). No significant differences were found between PAV and MAP, and between PAV and PAP.
- In experiment 2, interruption by fake negative feedback tailor made for different goal conditions was utilized to tap student’s inhibitory control. Students in MAP outperformed students in PAP (ES = +0.14) but were not significantly different from students in PAV (ES = +0.13). There was no difference between PAP and PAV in terms of accuracy.
- Experiment 3 was identical to experiment 2 except those participants were college students. The experiment aimed to generalize the findings to early adolescences. The MAP group scored significantly better than the PAP (ES = +0.73), but there was no significant difference in hit rate compared to the PAV group (ES = +0.20). There was no difference between PAP and PAV.
One of the major contributions of this study, according to its authors, was adopting direct and objective measures of self-regulation instead of subjective self-report rating. All three experiments unanimously supported the benefit of adopting mastery goals for better self-control in completing cognitive tasks.
Source: Lee, M., Bong, M., & Kim, S. (2021). Effects of achievement goals on self-control. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 67, 102000. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2021.102000