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Motivation research has shown significant relations of students’ mastery goal orientation and perceived competence to educational outcomes, but has not simultaneously scrutinized their relative influences on various educational outcomes. In the present investigation, a sample of Australian students from 6 secondary schools in Western Sydney (N= 1519) responded to survey items that measured mastery goal orientation and sense of competence. They were also asked to rate their status in class and self-efficacy in life. Their achievement scores were obtained by conducting both a reading and a numeracy test. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was applied to relate the motivational constructs (mastery and competence) to the outcomes (achievement, status, and self-efficacy). Results showed that students’ sense of competence was a stronger predictor of all three outcomes -achievement, status, and self-efficacy whereas mastery was a strong predictor of status and self-efficacy. Given that a sense of competence was found to be a strong predictor of achievement, it seems that educators should pay more attention to enhancing secondary students’ sense of competence if the purpose is solely to improve achievement. However, if the goal is to enhance long-term and whole-person outcomes, then both a mastery goal orientation and a positive sense of competence should be nurtured in secondary education.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access

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Psychology Commons