Motivation, cultural values, learning processes, and learning in Chinese students

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Ouyang, Li
Achievement goals , Mastery approach goals , Mastery avoidance goals , Performance approach goals , Performance avoidance goals , Student approaches to learning , Deep approach , Surface approach , Confucian-heritage cultural values , Metacognitive strategies , Perceived academic efficacy , Affect at school , Academic performance
The purpose of this study was: (a) to examine the predictive utility of the achievement goal and Student Approaches to Learning (SAL) frameworks for characterizing Chinese students’ motivation and achievement, and (b) to investigate how Confucian-heritage culture (CHC) may combine with achievement goals or SAL to generate different learning processes and outcomes and to promote optimal motivation. A questionnaire was conducted during a two-week period with over 700 first-year students who took both of the two courses—college English classes for non-English majors and advanced mathematics classes for science students—at a university in northern China. The questionnaire consisted of students’ self-reported demographic information and the instrument that was designed to measure: (a) goal orientations, (b) attitudes towards the specified CHC values, (c) SAL constructs, and (d) two variables widely used in research in this field—metacognitive strategy and school well-being. Exploratory factor analyses were conducted to examine the consistency of the extracted factor solutions with the four goal constructs postulated by the 2 x 2 conceptualization, the two SAL contructs posited by the SAL framework, and the five cultural value contructs derived from the literature review. Standard analysis procedures were used to calculate the reliability of the scales and to determine which items should be retained for further analyses. Then regression analyses were employed to examine the relationship of the goal orientation framework and SAL framework to cultural values, school well-being, metacognitive strategies, and grades. Results indicated that the 2 x 2 achievement goal framework was an appropriate model for characterizing the types of achievement goals these Chinese students pursued and for predicting a number of achievement-relevant processes and outcomes, as was the revised two-factor SAL framework for characterizing the different ways students approached their learning and for predicting these learning processes and outcomes. The results supported Chinese students’ multiple goal pursuit in an additive goal pattern, an interactive goal pattern, or a specialized goal pattern to promote their optimal motivation and achievement. The results also provided evidence that CHC values combined with achievement goals or SAL either in an additive or interactive pattern to facilitate Chinese students’ learning processes and outcomes.
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