The concept of goal orientation (GO) was developed to describe variability in dispositional or situational goal preferences that an individual implicitly sets for him/herself in achievement situations. GOs assist in providing a motivational framework for how individuals perceive, interpret, and judge reaction to key events in their lives. Empirical research on GOs has shown non-trivial effects on a broad range of outcomes such as task-specific self-efficacy, learning strategies, feedback seeking, and state anxiety.
Origins of goal orientation
As cited in Payne, Youngcourt, and Beaubien (2007), GO first emerged in the literature based on studies on primary school children during the 1970s and 1980s. Using Atkinson's (1964) theory of achievement motivation, researchers were interested in explaining the differences in classroom learning styles.
Using a college sample, Eison (1979) was interested in explaining why some students were narrowly focused on achieving superior grades while others seemed to focus more on the learning process. After developing a questionnaire protocol, he was able to classify students into two primary categories. He found that some students adopted a learning orientation, such that advanced schooling represented an opportunity to acquire knowledge, develop mastery over a set of skills, and provide general enlightenment over a breadth of information. Other students assumed a more pragmatic perspective which Eison termed a grade orientation. In this group, the grade achieved represented the ultimate outcome for effort. Although Eison initially viewed these conflicting orientations as opposite ends along a continuum, he later refined his definitions and the Learning Orientation–Grade Orientation scale to reflect more independent constructs.
A similar approach was used by Dweck and colleagues on a younger population. Attempting...