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Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name



Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Marc H. Rosa


A pervasive issue facing American education today is teaching unmotivated students. The linguistic and cultural diversity represented in the student body poses a challenging task to educators. The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between Arab American seventh-grade students' achievement, goal orientations, and perceptions of school culture, as well as the relevance and applicability of goal theory to explain their motivation toward learning. A total of 125 Arab American seventh grade students participated in the study by completing selected subscales of the Patterns of Adaptive Learning Survey (PALS). The variables measured included school culture, personal achievement goal orientations, academic self-efficacy, self-handicapping strategies, and skepticism about relevance of school for future success. In addition, students self-reported their academic achievement. Results of the study showed that perceptions of performance goal school culture was positively related to performance approach and avoidance goals and negatively related to mastery goals. In contrast, mastery goal school culture was positively related to mastery goals and negatively related to performance approach goals. Statistically significant results were found for differences in mastery and performance goal structure of the school when compared by personal achievement goal orientations categorized as low mastery/low performance, low mastery/high performance, high mastery/low performance, and high mastery/high performance. No significant differences were found for academic self-efficacy and academic self-handicapping strategies. Students in the four groups differed significantly on skepticism for the relevance of school for future success. Academic self-efficacy and performance approach goal orientation were significant predictors of academic achievement. When the variables were compared between male and female students, no statistically significant differences were found. School culture can have an important effect on students' adoption of a personal mastery or performance goal orientation. Educators and parents should attempt to promote a school culture that encourages mastery of content areas and skills, and improvement of competence as goals of education.

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