European Journal of Psychology of Education

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 579–600 | Cite as

The role of social-academic goals in Chinese students’ self-regulated learning

  • Jing WangEmail author
  • Ronnel B. King
  • Nirmala Rao


The role of mastery and performance goals in self-regulated learning (SRL) has received much attention. However, in collectivist and Confucian-heritage contexts, social-academic goals may also play an important, yet unexamined role in SRL. This study examined the association between social-academic goals and SRL. We tested a hierarchical model which posited higher-order social-academic goals (social reasons for doing well academically: parent-oriented goals and social status goals) as predictors of lower-order academic achievement goals (specific concrete aims: mastery goals and performance goals), which in turn predicted SRL strategy use. Participants were 11th-grade students from a developed metropolitan area (n = 449) and an underdeveloped rural area (n = 553) in China. Structural equation modeling showed that social status goals were significantly associated with mastery goals and that parent-oriented goals were positively associated with performance-avoidance goals across both groups. Students’ social status goals had an indirect effect on SRL strategy use through academic achievement goals, while parent-oriented goals had a direct effect on SRL strategy use. Reasons for the findings and implications for motivating students in collectivist contexts are discussed.


Social-academic goals Parent-oriented goals Social status goals Academic achievement goals Self-regulated learning 



The paper is based on Jing Wang’s PhD research at The University of Hong Kong. Our very special thanks go to all the research participants. We appreciate the constructive comments and proofreading on this article provided by Gaowei Chen and Luyao Liang.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisboa, Portugal and Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationThe University of Hong KongPokfulamHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of Curriculum and InstructionThe Education University of Hong KongTai PoHong Kong

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