Future goals and achievement goals: Expanding the horizons of goal theory

Dennis Michael MCINERNEY, Jie Qi LEE, Arief Darmanegara LIEM, Yasmin Y. ORTIGA

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


There are two relatively separate lines of research examining student goals and their relationship to student engagement in learning. The first of these, drawn from cognitive psychology is achievement goal theory, and the second, drawn from Future Time Perspective (FTP), is future goals (FGs). Research consistently shows that various achievement goals have differential relationships to school engagement and achievement, with mastery goals related to many positive student behaviours. Research also shows that students who have a vision for what they want to do in the future (FGs) are more engaged in learning. It is intriguing therefore, to speculate, that there may be a synergy between the two sets of goals that can enhance student learning behaviours. Furthermore, it is possible to speculate that intrinsic achievement goals are most related to intrinsic FGs, while extrinsic achievement goals are most related to extrinsic FGs. This paper specifically investigates how students FGs are associated with their immediate achievement goals (performance and mastery goal orientations). The General Achievement and Goal Orientation Scale (GAGOS) and the Future Goals Questionnaire (FGQ) were administered to 5773 secondary school students from 13 Singapore schools. Structural equation modeling indicated that extrinsic FGs (fame- and wealth-focused) were positively related to performance goal orientation more strongly than to mastery goal orientation. In contrast, intrinsic FGs (career- and society-focused) were positively related to mastery goal orientation more strongly than to performance goal orientation. Given the adaptive role of mastery goal orientation in enhancing learning, our findings suggest that instead of merely encouraging students to adapt a mastery goal orientation, teachers should support a combination of both FGs with an intrinsic content and mastery goal orientation in order to enhance students learning more effectively.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009


McInerney, D. M., Lee, J. Q., Liem, A. D., & Ortiga, Y. Y. (2009, August). Future goals and achievement goals: Expanding the horizons of goal theory. In M. Wosnitza (Chair), Latest developments in research on multiple goals in learning contexts. Symposium conducted at the 13th Biennial Conference: EARLI 2009: Fostering Communities of Learners, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


  • Goal orientation
  • Motivation


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