Goal Orientation in Learning

Dweck and Leggett among others, argue for the importance of students’ reasons for engaging in academic work in explaining their learning behaviours, where some students pursue performance goals and others pursue learning goals (Dweck and Leggett 1988; Elliott and Dweck 1988).

Goal orientation, extrinsic and intrinsic motivation are different ways to describe students’ reasons for engaging in academic learning. Students who are intrinsically motivated engage in learning for personal satisfaction or to become more effective as a person, whereas students who have high extrinsic motivation do so to receive approval from others. This is similar to the distinction between mastery and performance oriented students.


Dweck, C.S. and Leggett, E.S. (1988) ‘A Social-Cognitive Approach to Motivation and Personality’, Psychology Review, 95, 256-273.

Elliott, E.S. and Dweck, C.S. (1988) ‘Goals: An Approach to Motivation and Achievement’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(1), 5-12.


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