European Journal of Psychology of Education

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 713–726 | Cite as

Who benefits from mastery-approach and performance-approach goals in college? Students’ social class as a moderator of the link between goals and grade

  • Céline Darnon
  • Mickaël Jury
  • Cristina Aelenei


Although approach forms of achievement goals (mastery and performance goals) have been shown to predict academic achievement in college, recent research underscores that these associations are rather weak and not consistently observed. The present study tests students’ social class (in the present research, generational status) as a moderator of the relationships between both mastery-approach goals and performance-approach goals and final grade. One hundred students (45 first-generation students and 55 continuing-generation students, M age = 18.9, SD = 1.52) answered an achievement goal scale related to one of their classes at the beginning of the year. Their final grade for this class was obtained three months later. As expected, performance-approach goals positively predicted final grade only for upper-class students, while mastery-approach goals tend to do so for lower-class students, supporting the idea that different kinds of motivation could predict students’ achievement depending on their social class.


Achievement goals Achievement Social class First generation College 



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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisboa, Portugal and Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Céline Darnon
    • 1
  • Mickaël Jury
    • 2
  • Cristina Aelenei
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Psychologie Sociale et CognitiveUniversité Clermont AuvergneClermont-Ferrand CEDEXFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire PSITEC - EA4072ESPE Lille Nord de France and Université Lille Nord de FranceVilleneuve d’AscqFrance
  3. 3.Laboratoire de Psychologie SocialeUniversité Paris DescartesBoulogne-Billancourt CedexFrance

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