Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

pp 915-916

Mastery Orientation

  • Pei-Hsuan HsiehAffiliated withEducational Psychology, University of Texas at San Antonio


Learning goals; Task goals; Task involvement; Task orientation


Mastery orientation is defined as having the goal of learning and mastering the task according to self-set standards. Learner is focused on developing new skills, improving, and acquiring additional knowledge.


Detailed in the literature are two types of goal orientations. The first is a mastery goal, where students focus on mastery of a task and have the desire to acquire new skills. The second is a performance goal, where learners’ main concern is demonstrating competence and focus on receiving favorable judgments of ability from others.

Mastery orientated students find satisfaction with the work and are not influenced by external performance indicators such as grades. Students who have mastery goals tend to engage in activities that will increase their knowledge. They pay more attention, are more likely to process information at a higher level, and are not afraid to ask for help.

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