Original Article

Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 141-184

First online:

The Contributions and Prospects of Goal Orientation Theory

  • Avi KaplanAffiliated withDepartment of Education, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Email author 
  • , Martin L. MaehrAffiliated withCombined Program in Education and Psychology, University of Michigan

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In the last two decades, goal orientation theory has become an important perspective in the field of achievement motivation, and particularly in academic motivation. However, as research in the theory has proliferated, the use of multiple methods to assess goal orientations seems to have contributed to theoretical vagueness, especially with regard to the origin, development, and stability of these orientations. This review article starts with a critique of methods used in goal orientation research. The article then suggests six possible theoretical models of goal orientations that seem to be suggested by the literature, including the perspectives of goal orientations as emerging from: situation-schemas, self-schemas, self-prime, needs, values, and situated meaning-making processes. The article concludes with pointing to convergent findings, implications for practice, and persisting as well as emerging issues for future research.


Achievement Motivation Goals Method