DIFFERENCES ON ACADEMIC GOAL SCORES IN MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS FROM SPAIN, PORTUGAL AND CHINA
The purpose of this study was to analyse cultural differences in academic goals scores among middle and high school students of Spain, Portugal and China.
For this objective Achievement Goals Tendencies Questionnaire (AGTQ; Hayamizu & Weiner, 1991) was administered to 1615 students from Grades 7 to 11 of Spain (n = 520; 265 boys and 255 girls), China (n = 562; 287 boys and 246 girls) and Portugal (n = 533; 279 boys and 283 girls). Aged ranged from 12 to 17: 448 were between 12 and 13 years of age, 861 between 14 and 15 years of age and 306 between 16 and 17 years of age.
The AGTQ is composed of 20 items and assess academic goals from three subscales: Learning goals that examine the student’s tendency to study for to increase their knowledges and competences, Performance goals that analyze student’s tendency to learn for to get good grades and advance in their studies and, Social Reinforcement goals, that assess student’s tendency to study in order to obtain approval or avoid rejection of parents and teachers.
ANOVA analyses were used to determine if there were differences among those populations in the achievement goals scales. Once the differences were obtained post-hoc analysis (Scheffe test) were performed to determine between which countries appeared the significant statistical differences. Furthermore effect size (d index) was used to set the magnitude of these differences.
Results indicated that Spanish students were more oriented to learning goals, performance goals and social reinforcement goals than Portuguese and Chinese students. Moreover Portuguese adolescents presented significantly higher average scores in all achievement goals than Chinese adolescents. The effect sizes of differences between Spanish and Chinese students were of high magnitude, whereas differences found between Portuguese and Chinese population and Portuguese and Spanish population were of small or moderate magnitude.
In conclusion, results support existence of cultural differences in achievement goals of middle and high school students. These findings suggest a most adaptative motivational pattern in students of European countries as Spain and Portugal. On the contrary, Chinese students´ scores support lower levels in academic goals, coinciding with a most demanding educational period and a more stressfull assessment system. In future research it would be interesting to study more in depth this cultural differences and the repercusions in academic performance and learning strategies used.