Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Psychology


Educational Psychology

First Committee Member

Ralph E. Reynolds, Chair

Second Committee Member

Gita Taasoobshirazi

Third Committee Member

CarolAnn Kardash

Graduate Faculty Representative

Gene Hall

Number of Pages



An experimental study was conducted to examine whether achievement goals affect attention, comprehension, and metacognition. One hundred and twenty undergraduate students enrolled in introductory educational psychology classes participated. Students were randomly assigned to one of four goal groups (mastery, performance approach, performance avoidance, or control group) and one of three question groups (emotions, brain, and no questions). The study was conducted in two sessions. First, students were given a reading test, and questionnaires to measure their prior knowledge and personal goals. Second, students read the text on a computer. Then they completed an interest questionnaire, a manipulation check, a post test and an interview to assess their metacognition. A 4 (Type of Goal Instruction: mastery, performance approach, performance avoidance, and control) X 3 (Type of Questions: emotion, brain, and no questions) X 3 (Type of Text Segment Information: emotion, brain, and neutral) mixed factorial design was used. Type of goal instruction and type of questions were between subject factors; type of text segment information was a within-subject factor. The dependent measures were attention, comprehension, and metacognitive awareness. Personal goal orientation, prior knowledge, and reading ability were covariates. The analyses were conducted in seven parts: 1) a series of repeated measures ANOVAs were ran as general analyses, 2) causal analyses was used to determine whether attention mediated the relationship between goals and learning, 3) Attention data were analyzed to determine when participants became aware, 4) ANOVAs were ran to examine whether there were differences among goal groups on metacognition, 5) interview data were examined to determine whether participants differed on reading strategy use after they became metacognitively aware, 6), standard regression was conducted to test whether metacognition affected the amount of time spent on salient and non-salient text information, and 7) path analysis was used to test whether metacognition was a causal mediating variable between goals and learning. Results show that the attention was a partial mediating variable between goals and learning; metacognition mediated goals and learning; a mastery goal leads to better metacognition; and metacogntion affect attention. Theoretical and educational implications of the study's findings are discussed.


Action theory; Attention; Goal (Psychology); Learning; Memory; Metacognition; Motivation in adult education; Motivation (Psychology)


Educational Psychology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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