Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Barry Markman


The achievement goals that one adopts in an academic context have been shown to be associated with, as well as causally related to, important outcomes. Currently, the most widely accepted theory holds that achievement goals are the result of one's implicit

theory of intelligence. However, there is a lack of empirical support for this assertion. The current study tested the hypothesis that goal specific self-efficacy (self-efficacy measured separately for a mastery or performance outcome) is the primary driver of achievement goals. Two studies were conducted among a combined sample of 274

community college students. As was the case with most recent research, the current study found no support for the contention that achievement goals are related to implicit theories. In contrast, self-efficacy for mastery goals appeared to be predictive of goal

adoption, where high levels of mastery goal self-efficacy were related to the adoption of mastery goals and low levels related to the adoption of performance goals. Self-efficacy for performance goals were found to be unrelated to goal adoption. In addition, when students reported different goals among the courses in which they were currently enrolled, congruent differences in their degree of mastery goal self-efficacy were found. This finding provides evidence that mastery self-efficacy has the potential to explain some of the contextual malleability of goals, a feat which implicit theories of intelligence are inherently unable to match.