Goals, Metacognition, and Problem Solving

A burgeoning research literature shows that students who value learning and believe success is within reach persist in the face of failure, excel academically, and accomplish more than people who don’t, even if they are equal in ability levels.  (see A. Bandura on Self-Efficacy; Attribution and Social Expectancy Theories, C. Dweck on Self-Theories and Mindset; A. Duckworth on Grit; D. McClelland on Acquired Need for Achievement; W. Mischel on Self-Control). Yet, little is known about whether students view learning as their primary goal in school, whether their goals vary by context or academic performance level, and whether their goals carry predictive power for academic performance. This gap is unfortunate because if students do not have learning as a primary goal, no amount of instruction will improve their learning. These projects examine how students’ understanding of their own goals, goals set by their schools, and their teachers impact their learning and problem solving across a range of challenging domains.

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