Performance in Language and Performance Goal Orientations: Dynamic Effects on Students’ Academic Behaviors

Dimitrios Stamovlasis, Georgia Stavropoulou, & Eleni Karastergiou



Schools as complex systems include a plethora of factors that could influence students' attitudes, motivation and cognitive outcomes. In this paper, the framework of achievement goal theory is examined within the complex dynamical systems paradigm (CDS) and the roles of the relevant psychological constructs, such as, mastery, performance-approach and performance-avoidance orientations, are investigated. The present work is part of a wider project aiming to apply CDS in language research and presents preliminary results of two different projects. The first study, carried out with lower-grade secondary school students, explores the cognitive outcomes related to writing as a function of a number of factors, such as achievement goals orientation (mastery, performance-approach, performance-avoidance) and self-efficacy. The second study concerns Ancient Greek language learning and analyzes longitudinal data from two classes of the upper-grade secondary education students. Learning outcomes and efficacy were associated with achievement goals orientation constructs. Cusp catastrophe analysis showed that, in both studies, the nonlinear models were superior to the linear alternatives and that bifurcation effects are present in the data, where performance goal orientations acted as the splitting variables. These findings are in line with previous reports and are discussed in light of the current theories.

Keywords: teacher learning, teacher evaluation, complex systems, learning progressions