Optimizing Learning Environments: An Individual Difference Approach to Learning and Transfer


Prior work has found that the type of learning activity (direct instruction or invention) interacts with achievement goals (mastery or performance-oriented) such that invention tasks can help facilitate mastery goal adoption and knowledge transfer (Belenky & Nokes, 2009). In the current study, we investigated how robust the effect is, and whether explicit manipulations of the task goals can produce a similar effect. We conducted an experiment with 98 college students in which achievement goals were measured, while task goals and task structure were manipulated between subjects. Results indicated that task structure was generally a more effective way of influencing which achievement goals are adopted within a learning activity. However, task goals that promoted an evaluative context interfered with transfer for mastery-oriented learners from invention activities. The results are interpreted in relation to theories of regulatory fit and multiple goal hierarchies.

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