Introduction Educational and psychological research over the last decade has consistently supported the presupposition that learning is a dynamic process in which knowledge and motivation work in concert to influence achievement (Alexander, 1997; Pintrich et al., 1993; Tanaka and Yamauchi, 2001). Research by Schommer (e.g., 1990, 1993) and others (e.g., Hofer, 2000; Kardash and Scholes, 1996; King and Kitchener, 1994) has also shown that students’ beliefs about knowledge and the process of knowing (i.e., epistemology) play powerful roles in their learning and development. In addition, it is now understood that constructs like knowledge, motivation, and epistemology are multidimensional and make unique contributions to the learning process (e.g., Alexander, 1997; Buehl et al., 2002; Middleton and Midgley, 1997; Schommer, 1990). For example, research investigating goal orientations in ninth-grade students has shown that avoidance-oriented goals are correlated with higher test anxiety, while performance-oriented goals are related to lower self-efficacy (Niemivirta, 2002). Additional studies suggest that these relations may vary according to developmental levels. Whereas learning or mastery goals relate to both “higher levels of content knowledge and better grades” among middle school students (Gehlbach, 2006, p. 366), the process becomes more differentiated in college. Specifically, performance goals consistently correlate with grades while learning goals appear to be more closely aligned with student interest (Harackiewicz et al., 2005).
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