Gender Differences in Achievement Goals and Their Relations to Self-Reported Persistence/Effort

Bulent Agbuga
Asst. Prof. Dr., Pamukkale University, School of Sport Sciences and Technology, Denizli, TURKEY

Problem Statement: The assumption of the achievement goal theory is to develop competence and the notion that students set goals for themselves for participating in physical education classes. These goals can influence their cognition, attitude and behavior. Therefore, the achievement goal theory is a major theoretical framework for research on achievement related cognitions and behaviors in sport and physical education settings. Achievement goal research in physical education has been conducted primarily in the United States and other Western countries. Research evidence, however, suggests that social, cultural and contextual factors influence students’ achievement-related cognition, affect and behavior.
Purpose of Study: The primary objective of this study was to examine achievement goals and their relationship to student persistence/effort for both male and female students in physical education classes.
Methods: Two hundred and twenty-nine 8th and 11th grade Turkish students (122 boys and 107 girls) completed questionnaires assessing their achievement goals and persistence/effort. Before running Pearson correlation and regression analyses, a one-way MANOVA and follow-up univariate F tests were conducted to determine gender differences.
Findings and Results: The results of this study showed that mastery and performance-approach goals demonstrated significant positive predictors of persistence/effort for both gender groups. The results also showed that no differences emerged in the mean scores of achievement goals and persistence/effort between gender groups.
Conclusions and Recommendations: The results of the CFA and Cronbach a coefficents support the viability of the trichotomous model as a theoretical perspective in the assessment of student achievement goals in a physical education setting. Results of the study revealed no differences in the mean scores of achievement goals and persistence/effort between boys and girls. Mastery goals and performance-approach goals emerged as significant positive predictions of students’ self-reported persistence/effort but their predictive power differed by gender. Overall, results of this study provide additional empirical support for the trichotomous achievement goal model in general and to Turkish students specifically in the context of school physical education. More studies are needed in this area in order to appropriately understand the motivational processes across the gender. Such information gained from this line of inquiry would not only help the development of theory but could also lead to a better understanding of gender-appropriate motivational techniques.
Keywords: Achievement goals, persistence, gender differences, Turkish students.