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Relations of perceptions of the school goal structure and personal achievement goals to early adolescents’ emotional well-being Charlette, Patricia

Abstract

Adopting a goal theory perspective, the current study explored the relations of early adolescents' perception of the school goal structure and their personal goals, to their emotional well-being. Specifically, the current study examined the independent contribution of personal goals and perception of the school goal structure to emotional well-being and explored how the mismatch between early adolescents' personal goal orientation and their perception of the school's goal structure relates to their emotional well-being. Accordingly, 251 middle school students in grades 6, 7, and 8 completed self-report questionnaires assessing their personal goals, perceptions of the school goal structure, mental health (anxiety and depression), and self-perceptions (academic competence and self-worth). In addition, teachers completed ratings of the participants' school functioning (problem and competent behaviours). Correlational results indicated that personal task goals and perception of a school task goal structure was negatively associated with depression, anxiety, and problem behaviours and positively associated with perceptions of academic competence, feelings of self-worth, and competent behaviours. In contrast, personal relative ability goals and perception of a school ability goal structure was positively associated with depression, anxiety, and problem behaviours and negatively associated with perceptions of academic competence, feelings of selfworth, and competent behaviours. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that both students' personal goals and their perceptions of the school goal structure predicted their mental health and their self-perceptions of academic competence. However, perceptions of the school goal structure rather than personal goals predicted their feelings of self-worth. In contrast, personal goals rather than school emphases were related to teacher ratings of competent and problem behaviours. Overall, perceptions of a school ability goal structure emerged as the strongest predictor for all the indices of emotional well-being used in the current investigation.

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