Exploring the synergies between distal future and proximal achievement goals and metacognition in academic achievement

Dennis Michael MCINERNEY, Fraide A. GANOTICE, Ronnel Bornasal KING

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Goals are important catalysts of achievement-related behaviors. Achievement goals represent the purposes that students have in different achievement situations. They are temporally confined to the present moment, being bound to the current achievement setting that students find themselves. However, aside from proximal achievement goals, students also pursue relatively long-term goals which can also exert an importance influence on educational outcomes. These long-term goals could also influence the following: types of achievement goals that students pursue given that future goals can lead to more proximal sub-goals that are aligned with their long-term objectives, and the use of metacognitive strategies. Therefore, the aims of this study were to investigate the synergies between more temporally-remote future goals and temporally-proximal achievement goals in influencing academic achievement, and to examine the relations between future goals and metacognitive strategies. We hypothesized that intrinsic-future goals will lead to the use of more adaptive metacognitive strategies. In this study, we looked at five specific domains of students future goals which include: achieving a good career (career), becoming a well-known person in society (fame), becoming wealthy (wealth), being able to support one’s future family (family), and being able to contribute to society as a whole (society). Achievement goals investigated included mastery, performance, and social. Both future and achievement goals can be classified as relatively intrinsic or extrinsic. Metacognitive strategies included were monitoring and planning. Participants were 6,264 secondary students from Hong Kong drawn from 16 secondary schools. There were 3,442 boys, 2,822 girls with a mean age of 13.30. Students were asked to answer questionnaires assessing future, achievement goals, and metacognitive strategies. Academic achievement was measured using a standardized achievement tests in English and Mathematics which was calibrated using the Rasch measurement model. The two-step approach to structural equation modeling was used. In general, results indicated that intrinsically-oriented future goals such as those that pertain to career and society were positively more strongly related to intrinsically-oriented achievement goals especially mastery goal and monitoring as metacognitive strategy. Extrinsically-oriented future goals were more strongly-related to extrinsic types of achievement goals, i.e., performance goal. Mastery goal emerged as the most consistent and powerful mediator between career-focused goal and achievement, and between society-focused goal and Math and English achievement. Metacognitive monitoring became an important mediator between society-focused goal and English achievement and between fame-focused and English achievement. Specifically, an indirect relationship between society-focused goal and Math achievement was established through metacognitive monitoring suggesting full mediation. This finding may suggest that students with high level of willingness to be of better service to the community appear to have high level of metacognitive monitoring strategy which helped them improve their Math and English achievement. This study elucidates the synergies between more temporally-distant and proximal goals. It provides a more dynamic and comprehensive picture of students’ goal strivings beyond the exclusive present-oriented focus of most achievement goal research. It also suggests that educators would do well to promote more intrinsic types of future and achievement goals and metacognition given their positive associations with student academic achievement. Copyright © 2015 AERA.


Conference2015 Annual Meeting of American Educational Research Association: "Toward Justice: Culture, Language, and Heritage in Education Research and Praxis"
Abbreviated titleAERA 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityChicago, Ill.
Internet address


McInerney, D. M., Ganotice, F. A., & King, R. B. (2015, April). Exploring the synergies between distal future and proximal achievement goals and metacognition in academic achievement. Paper presented at The 2015 American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting (AERA 2015): Toward justice: Culture, language, and heritage in education research and praxis, Sheraton Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.


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