Striving for Success but at What Cost? Subject-Specific Achievement Goal Orientation Profiles, Perceived Cost, and Academic Well-Being
Markku Niemivirta; Heta Tuominen; Henriikka Juntunen
Most studies utilizing a person-oriented approach to investigating students’ achievement goal orientation profiles have been domain-general or focused on a single domain (usually mathematics), thus excluding the possibility of identifying distinct subject-specific motivational profiles. In this study, we looked into this by examining upper secondary school students’ subject-specific achievement goal orientation profiles simultaneously in mathematics and English. As distinct profiles might contribute to how students invest time and effort in studying, we also examined differences in perceived subject-specific cost (i.e., effort required, emotional cost, opportunity cost) among students with different profiles and how this was linked with students’ more general academic well-being (i.e., school engagement, burnout). The 434 Finnish general upper secondary school students participating in the study were classified based on their achievement goal orientations in the two subjects using latent profile analysis, and the predictions of the latent profile on distal outcomes (i.e., measures of cost and academic well-being) were examined within the mixture model. Five divergent achievement goal orientation profiles were identified: indifferent (29%), success-oriented (26%), mastery-oriented (25%), English-oriented, math-avoidant (14%), and avoidance-oriented (6%). The English-oriented, math-avoidant students showed the most distinct domain-specificity in their profile but, in general, profiles indicated more cross-domain generality than specificity. Overall, mastery-oriented students showed the most adaptive academic well-being, while avoidance-oriented students were the least engaged. Success-oriented students were characterized by high multiple goals in both subjects, elevated costs, and high scores on both positive (engagement) and negative (burnout) well-being indicators. The English-oriented, math-avoidant students perceived studying math as costly. The findings suggest that addressing students’ achievement motivation in different subjects may be useful for recognizing factors endangering or fostering student learning and well-being.
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