The results of this study supported the hypotheses 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 that the incremental theory of intelligence was related to students' adoption of the learning and performance goals. Subsequently, the adoptions of the learning goal by the students led to the use of the monitoring strategy and to the rejection of the superficial cognitive engagement. Those students usually enjoyed their classroom life and chose challenging task. The adoption of the performance goal did not have any relation to students' learning strategy and motivational behaviour. For student who adopted the work avoidance goal, they seldom used the monitoring strategy for better understanding of their school work and their engagements in the classroom work were kept to the minimum. Those students usually felt dull in the lesson and they would choose easy task if possible to minimize their effort. The findings suggested that the impacts of the belief of the malleability of intelligence on learning strategies and on motivational behaviour were indirect and mediate through the adoption of the learning and performance goals.
7.1 The validity of the work avoidance goal
The construct validity and the criteria-related validity of the work avoidance goal had been examined in this study. It had been found that in the exploratory factor analysis, 3 factors were found. They were learning goal, performance goal and the work avoidance goal. Moreover, the structural equation model with the work avoidance goal as one of the mediators depicts that the work avoidance goal predicted in a large degree the use of the monitoring strategy, the degree of cognitive engagement, the feeling of boredom and the choice of the task of the students in the classroom. As the students selected here were academically high-achievers, the work avoidance goal was seemed to be inapplicable for them. Nonetheless, the work avoidance goal had been shown to predict a large degree of the motivational behaviour. This study has demonstrated that, whenever possible, the work avoidance goal should be included in future achievement goals studies for better understanding of the motivational behaviour of the students whatever the level of academic achievement they belong.7.2 Relations between incremental theory of intelligence and achievement goals
At first glance, it is surprising to note that the work avoidance goal did not relate to the use of monitoring strategy. This means that students with stronger work avoidance goal who preferred to do little work did not reduce their attempt to understand the learning materials. This relation could be explained by knowing that the student of this study were restricted to high achievers only. The high achievers did also feel tired or frustrated when they faced difficult work as the low achievers did, but the high achievers and low achievers differed in their persistence in understanding the learning materials. For high achievers, there were other proponents (e.g. the request of their parents or their goal setting) that drove them to continue the work (Miller, et al., 1993). This difference between these two kinds of students could be a reason that led to their difference of the use of monitoring strategy at schools. If a more diversified sample had been used, it might appear that the work avoidance goal would be related negatively with the monitoring strategy.
As predicted, when students have a strong belief that their intelligence is malleable and can be enhanced through their effort, they have a greater tendency to merit the learning process and take the aim of mastering new skills and understanding new knowledge. In other words, they adopt the learning goal as their aim during learning. This finding is consistent with previous research (Dweck, 1986; Hayamizu & Weiner, 1991; Roedel & Schraw, 1995).7.3 Relation between achievement goals and motivational behaviour
It is noteworthy that the incremental theory of intelligence also has a significant and positive relation to the performance goal adopted by the students. Students who take the belief that their intelligence is malleable have a greater tendency to evaluate their ability and to obtain a favourable evaluation by doing better than their classmates. This finding is contrary to the proposal of the Dweck and Leggett (1988) that suggested the incremental theory of intelligence should have a negative relation with the performance goal. This difference may be accounted for by the different designs of the studies. In Dweck's studies, experimental designs were used for most of the time and the performance goal was experimentally induced on the children in which challenge avoidance was stressed. But in naturalistic design (Hayamizu & Weiner, 1991. Roedel & Schraw, 1995), in which questionnaires were administrated during normal class period, the performance goal subscale was developed from Nicholls (1989) with the emphasis of measurement on the extent of longing for gaining approval and outperformance. In these cases, the incremental theory of intelligence had a positive relation with the performance goal. Hence, it is reasonable for the relation of the incremental theory of intelligence with the performance goal found in this naturalistic study follows the findings of other naturalistic studies.
This study supports the notion that achievement goals are mediators that connect the individual differences and the motivational outcomes (Meece, et al., 1988). Most of the relations of the incremental theory of intelligence with the monitoring strategy, superficial cognitive engagement, boredom and choice of easy task are indirect and through the learning goal and performance goal.
Consistent with previous research, this study indicates that when students aim at acquisition of knowledge or mastery of skills, they tend to use more sophisticated learning strategy. They will try to monitor their learning pace in order to understand the materials. As complete understanding is the base for memorization and applications of the knowledge, students taking the learning goal orientation will receive the benefit in long run.7.4 Differences between grade 7 and grade 9 samples
Large percents of variance of the superficial cognitive engagement variable and the choice of easy task variable can be explained by the adoption of the work avoidance goal by the students. These show that the work avoidance goal has a great impact on the students' academic school life. Students who are classified as belonging to superficial cognitive engagement is inclined to study in a restricted area which is probably dictated by the teachers. Their learning style is passive and they will probably lose the interest of learning after their school life.
The feeling of boredom can be partly explained by the adoption of the work avoidance goal by the students. Usually, the boredom feeling of the students during the lesson is believed to be induced by the ineffective and boring instructional method employed by the teachers. This study shows that individual factors such as the adoption of the work avoidance goal are also influential on the feeling of boredom. With the same class environment, students adopting the learning goal do not feel that their classes are dull whereas students adopting the work avoidance goal feel that their classes are dull.
It is interesting to find that the performance goal did not relate to the monitoring strategy, superficial cognitive engagement, boredom and the choice of easy task. There may be two explanations for this findings. Firstly, this relation may be mediated by the perceived ability of the students (Ames, 1992). Elliott and Dweck (1988) found that when performance goal is highlighted, students with high perceived ability will choose moderate or moderately difficult task to display their competence and their effective problem solving strategies remained in response to difficulty. On the other hand, students with low perceived ability will choose easy task to avoid the display of their incompetence and their effective problem solving skills are deteriorated. So when students of different perceived abilities were pooled together into the analysis in this study, the positive and negative relations between the performance goal and these motivational outcomes might be cancelled out that the performance goal showed non-significant relation with them. Perceived ability is only one of the potential constructs that differentiate the students, future research may be done to verify the effect of the perceived ability and to find out other potential influential constructs.
The second possible explanation is related to the cluster analysis done by Meece and Holt (1993). They had identified three clusters of students by the criteria of locating their scores of learning goal, performance goal and work avoidance goal. One cluster of students had high learning goal together with high performance goal which meant high performance goal students usually score high learning goal. If this was also true in this study, the relations between the performance goal and the motivational outcomes might be overwhelmed by the relations between the learning goal and the motivational outcomes.
The results of the cross-validation showed that the model was also held for the other sample. The incremental theory of intelligence was positively and strongly related to the adoption of learning goal and positively related to the performance goal. The learning goal was positively related to the monitoring strategy but negatively related to the superficial cognitive engagement, boredom and choice of hard task. On the other hand, the work avoidance goal was negatively related to the monitoring strategy but positively related to the superficial cognitive engagement, boredom and choice of hard task. As predicted, the performance has insignificant relation with the motivational outcomes.7.5 Implication of the findings
Although the structure of the models were the same for grade 7 and grade 9 samples, the strength of the relations were different for some path. For example, the relation between the incremental theory of intelligence and the performance goal was much stronger in the grade 9 sample than the grade 7 sample. This may due to the fact that the grade 9 students were facing a decision of entering Science stream or Arts stream in next academic year (grade 10). As Science stream was favourable by the students in that school but the places for Science stream were limited, competition between grade 9 students was violent. A student who believed that his intelligence was malleable not only care about the learning process itself, he should also plan for his future study. In order to get a place in the Science stream, he had to compete with others. As a result, his score on performance goal would be larger. This explanation is supported by the fact that the correlation between the learning goal and the performance was much larger in the grade 9 sample than the grade 7 sample.
This competitive environment among the grade 9 students might also have its influence on the relations between the work avoidance goal and the motivational outcomes. Table 6.12 shows that the loadings from the work avoidance goal to the motivational outcomes in grade 9 sample are generally weaker than the grade 7 sample. Grade 7 students had just enter the secondary school from the primary school. Their promotions to grade 8 in next academic year were nearly warranted. As compared with their grade 6 studies in the primary schools, the pressure of learning from their parents and their schools were much released. As a result, for two students coming from grade 7 and grade 9 who had the same degree of tendency to adopt the work avoidance goal, the grade 9 student was less likely to choose an easy task and dismissed the monitoring strategy because he cared much more than the grade 7 student about his examination results.
It is interesting to note that the competitive environment among the grade 9 sample might have a similar influence on the learning goal. As depicted from table 6.12, the loadings from the learning goal to the motivational outcomes in grade 9 sample were generally stronger than the grade 7 sample except the loading on the choice of the easy task. Generally speaking, the competitive environment may intensify the relations between the learning goal and the motivational outcomes but lessen the relations between the work avoidance goal and the motivational outcomes. Nevertheless, the suggestion above is derived from one set of data only, further research should be done to verify the effect of competitive environment on the learning goal, performance goal and work avoidance goal.
This study provides a framework for the teachers to promote the effective learning strategies and to advocate the choice of more challenging task. Researchers knew that the adoption of learning goal by the students can lead to the use of effective learning strategies and increase the chance of choosing more challenging but difficult tasks. Some of the researchers have emphasized the classroom environment and some of them have emphasized the individual factor to promote the adoption of learning goal. One of the significance of this study is to support the theory that the implicit theory of intelligence as an individual factor is one of the determinants of the learning goal orientation. By manipulating the incremental theory of intelligence held by students, it is believed that the use of effective learning strategies and the choice of challenging task will be followed eventually. Reading passages which stress the malleability of intelligence may be one of the many methods that can change the concept of intelligence of the students.7.6 Limitations of the study
Work avoidance goal is not commonly employed in previous researches as compared with the learning goal and the performance goal. This study has shown the construct and criteria-related validity of the work avoidance goal. It is not just the opposite of the learning goal. In fact, it is found that it is not correlated with the learning goal but its relation with the learning strategies and the motivational outcomes are just the opposite of that of the learning goal. The addition of the work avoidance goal into the model help to explain the adoption of different learning strategies and motivational outcomes. In first glance, it is thought that this goal is highly associated with the low achievers. The study shows that even high achievers process this goal and many motivational outcomes are related to it.
Another significance of the study is the employment of the structural equation modelling with multiple indicators. The measurement errors of the latent variables are estimated simultaneously. Cross validation of the results is done between different grades by using multiple sample analysis. As compared with the similar research of achievement goals that employed the correlations inspection or multiple regression without cross validation, this study provides more trustful results.
The data in this study were collected as a cross-sectional design only. Thus, the causal relation between the antecedents, achievement goals and motivational outcomes cannot be confirmed. A causal relation is one that the change of one construct leads to the change of another construct afterwards (Heise, 1975). Bagozzi (1980) states that a causal relationship is established under 3 criteria. First, the correlation between the two constructs should not be weak. Second, one construct should be demonstrated as the antecedent of the other construct. Third, there is no other dominate causes. If a causal relation is pursued, a multi-wave design in which the indicator variables are measured in different times (Marsh, 1990) or an experimental design can give stronger support (Marsh et al., 1994). In testing the causal relation with the structural equation model in a single wave design, theories based on literature review should be referenced (Hair et al., 1992). In this study, the proposed model is derived from Dweck's achievement goals theory and the causal ordering of implicit theory of intelligence, achievement goals and motivational outcomes are confirmed by experimental settings. Although this study alone cannot provide a firm evidence for the causal relationship, the theoretical framework that it is based can provide strong support.
The subjects of this study is limited to one secondary school and only grade 7 and grade 9 students were involved. As the sampling method was not random, the specific environment of the school, the administration of the school and the ideology of the principal and teachers might affect the learning behaviour of the students. As a result, the findings of this study may not be directly generalized to the populations and they should be interpreted cautiously.
The antecedents of the achievement goals included in this study were confined to implicit theory of intelligence only. Other individual factors had been shown to be influential on the achievement goals such as the intrinsic motivation (Harter, 1981; Harackiewicz & Elliot, 1993; Harackiewicz & Manderlink, 1984), the perceived ability of the students (Harter, 1982; Archer, 1994. Miller et al., 1993) and the perceived aims of schooling (Nicholls et al., 1985). Moreover, no situational factor such as the classroom climate is employed. In fact, classroom climate was believed to be a strong factor that influence the adoption of the achievement goals by the students (Ames, 1992). Because of the limited resources of this study, they were not considered here. Future research should incorporate these construct into their studies.
All the instruments employed in this study were translated from English. No further procedure was applied to verify the congruence between the English version and the Chinese version. Some of the scales were first constructed and their validity and reliability had not been tested seriously. Nevertheless, the results of this study provide preliminary information on the construct validity, predictive validity and reliability of the subscales. Another potential limitation of the measuring instruments was about its format. Since self-report questions were asked, the responses of the students might not correctly reflect their opinion and the real situation. Sometimes, students may answer the question in order to please the teacher or they might afraid that their personal responses would be disposed openly. In order to adjust this potential discrepancy, other research method such as think-aloud protocols or structured interviews should be employed to supplement the findings of the self-report surveys.
In this study, the basic relations among students' theories of intelligence, achievement goals and motivational behaviour were delineated. In sum, most of the findings in the present study supported previous research in other Western societies. Cross-cultural consistent patterns rather than differences were observed despite the fact that Chinese students were comparatively more effort and learning oriented. Limitation of the present study as well as implication for further research have also been discussed.