Relationship between Learning Strategies and Goal Orientations: A Multilevel Analysis

*Dr., Gaziosmanpasa University, Faculty of Education, Tokat, Turkey.
† Dr., Middle East Technical University, Faculty of Education, Ankara, Turkey.
DOI: 10.14689/ejer.2014.56.4


Problem Statement: Motivation plays an important role in explaining students’ academic achievement. In an effort to explain students’ purposes for learning and the reasons they engage in a learning activity, different achievement goal models (dichotomous, trichotomous, and 2×2) have been proposed over time. The present study aimed to extend previous research by employing the most recent model—2×2 achievement goal framework—using multilevel analysis techniques at the high school level.

Purpose of the Study: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between Turkish high school students’ learning strategies and their goal orientations in a chemistry course using multilevel analysis. Learning strategies included rehearsal, elaboration, organization, critical thinking, and metacognitive self-regulation, while goal orientations consisted of performance-approach, performanceavoidance, mastery-approach, and mastery-avoidance goals.

Method: A total of 1157 (620 females, 537 males) high school students coming from 50 classrooms (classroom size ranged from 14 to 33) participated in the study. Learning strategies were assessed by the Cognitive and Metacognitive Strategies Scale. Students’ goal orientations were measured by the Goal Orientation Scale based on the 2×2 achievement goal framework. Since students were nested in classrooms, a multilevel approach as a statistical technique was employed. For each strategy type, a Hierarchical Linear Modeling analysis was run. Students’ cognitive and metacognitive strategies were predicted with student-level predictors, namely four achievement goals.

Findings and Results: The findings revealed the same pattern for all strategy types: performance-approach and mastery-approach goals positively predicted students’ learning strategies, with higher beta coefficients for the mastery-approach goals. For example, the variation in elaboration strategy was explained more by the mastery-approach goals (β = .42) than the performance-approach goals (β = .17).

Conclusions and Recomendations: Results showed that performanceapproach and mastery-approach goals significantly predicted students’ learning strategies. In contrast to the literature which relates mastery type goals to deeper level strategies, in the current study performance-approach goals were also linked to strategy use. This result can be attributed to the grade-focused evaluation practices and the dominance of nationwide exams in the Turkish educational context. Teachers can promote the use of mastery-goals by helping students develop new skills, creating challenging activities, avoiding comparisons among students, and giving control of learning over to students. The present study can be extended by including variables such as classroom goal structure, personal characteristics, and academic achievement.

Keywords: Achievement goals, learning strategies, cognitive and metacognitive strategies, Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) analysis, chemistry education Introduction