Goals, Goal Structures, and Patterns of Adaptive Learning presents the findings of a large scale, longitudinal study which uses goal theory as the lens through which to examine the relation among achievement goals; the learning context; and students' and teachers' patterns of cognition, affect, and behavior. These results are integrated within the larger literature on goal theory, providing an overview of the research that has been conducted, as well as suggestions that goal theory researchers might want to consider. To purchase the book or to learn more, please visit the Lawrence Erlbaum website at:


Publications - Elementary and Middle School Coalitions

Some of the members of this group began working together when we formed a coalition in the early 1990’s with a local elementary and middle school to use achievement goal theory as a framework for bringing about school reform.  The following papers and chapters describe the activities of the coalitions, and the research that was conducted in those schools.  For copies of these publications, please contact the authors (see contacts page).

     Anderman, E. M., Maehr, M. L., & Midgley, C.  (1999).  Declining motivation after the transition to middle school:  Schools can make a difference.  Journal of Research and Development in Education, 32, 131-147.

     Anderman, E., & Midgley, C.  (1997).  Changes in personal achievement goals and the perceived classroom goal structures across the transition to middle level schools.  Contemporary Educational Psychology, 22, 269-298.


     Anderman, E. M., & Young, A. J.  (1994).  Motivation and strategy use in science:  Individual differences and classroom effects.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 31, 811-831.

     Kaplan, A., & Midgley, C.  (1997).  The effect of achievement goals:  Does level of academic efficacy make a difference?  Contemporary Educational Psychology, 22, 415-435.

     Maehr, M. L., & Midgley, C.  (1996).  Transforming school cultures.  Boulder, CO:  Westview Press.

     Midgley, C.  (1993).  Motivation and middle level schools.  In P. Pintrich. & M. L. Maehr, (Eds.).  Advances in motivation and achievement, Vol. 8:  Motivation in the adolescent years (pp. 219-276).  Greenwich, CT:  JAI Press.

     Midgley, C., & Maehr, M. L.  (1999).  Using motivational theory to guide school reform. In A. J. Reynolds, H. J. Walberg, & R. P. Weissberg (Eds.), Promoting positive outcomes in childrens' and families' lives (129-159).  Washington, D. C.:  CWLA Press.

     Maehr, M. L., & Midgley, C.  (1991).  Enhancing student motivation:  A school-wide approach.  Educational Psychologist, 26, 399-427.

     Maehr, M. L., & Midgley, C.  (1999).  Creating optimum learning environments for students of diverse sociocultural backgrounds.  In J. Block, S. Everson, & T. Guskey (Eds.)   School improvement programs (pp.355-375).  Kendall-Hunt.

     Midgley, C., Anderman, E., & Hicks, L.  (1995).  Differences between elementary and middle school teachers and students:  A goal theory approach.  Journal of Early Adolescence, 15, 90-113.

     Midgley, C., & Urdan, T.  (1992).  The transition to middle level schools:  Making it a good experience for all students.  Middle School Journal, 24, 5-14.

     Midgley, C., & Urdan, T.  (1995).  Predictors of middle school students’ use of self-handicapping strategies.  Journal of Early Adolescence, 15, 389-411.

     Midgley, C., & Wood, S.  (1993).  Beyond site-based management:  Empowering teachers to reform schools.  Phi Delta Kappan, 75, 245-252.

     Roeser, R. W., Midgley, C., & Urdan, T. C.  (1996).  Perceptions of the school psychological environment and early adolescents’ psychological and behavioral functioning in school:  The mediating role of goals and belonging.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 408-422.

     Urdan, T. C.  (1997).  Examining the relations among early adolescent students’ goals and friends’ orientation toward effort and achievement in school.  Contemporary Educational Psychology, 22, 165-191.

     Urdan, T., Midgley, C., & Wood, S.  (1995).  Special issues in reforming middle level schools.  Journal of Early Adolescence, 15, 9-37.

Publications – Middle School Sample in a Small Working Class Community

Some of the members of this group also conducted research in a working class school district near the University of Michigan in the mid 1990s. 

     Kaplan, A., & Maehr, M. L. (1999).  Achievement goals and student well-being.  Contemporary Educational Psychology, 24, 330-358.

     Midgley, C., Arunkumar, R., & Urdan, T. C.  (1996).  “If I don’t do well tomorrow, there’s a reason”:  Predictors of adolescents’ use of self-handicapping strategies.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 423-434.

Publications – Five Year Study Following Students Across the Transitions to Middle and High School

This study, funded by the William T. Grant Foundation, is longitudinal and multi-faceted.  Four ethnically and economically diverse school districts in southeastern Michigan participated in the study.   The study was five years in duration, with survey data collected from students at eight different time points as students moved from fifth grade in elementary school to sixth, seventh, and eighth grade in middle school; and then to the ninth grade in high school.  Survey data were collected from teachers five times, when students were in the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth grade.  In addition, a subset of fifth grade classrooms were observed, and a subset of students and parents were interviewed.

Publications - Funded by the William T. Grant Foundation

The following is a list of the papers that have been published or in press that are based on the survey data, observation data, and interview data collected during the five years of the project, or address theoretical issues or the implications of the findings for middle school reform.

     Anderman, L. H.  (1999).  Classroom goal orientation, school belonging, and social goals as predictors of students’ positive and negative affect following the transition to middle school.  Journal of Research and Development in Education, 32, 89-103.

     Anderman, L. H., & Anderman, E.  (1999).  Social predictors of changes in students’ achievement goal orientations.  Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 21-37.

     Anderman, L. H., & Midgley, C.  (1997).  Motivation and middle school students.  In J. L. Irvin (Ed.), What research says to the middle level practitioner.  Columbus, OH:  National Middle School Association.

     Arunkumar, R., Midgley, C.,  & Urdan, T.  (1999).  Perceiving high or low home/school dissonance:  Longitudinal effects on adolescent academic and emotional adjustment. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 9, 441-467.

     Gutman, L. M., & Midgley, C.  (2000).  The role of protective factors in supporting the academic achievement of poor African American adolescents during the middle school transition.  Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 29 (2), 223-248.

     Kaplan, A., Gheen, M., & Midgley. C.  (in press).  The classroom goal structure and student disruptive behavior. British Journal of Educational Psychology.

     Kaplan, A., & Midgley. C.  (1999).  The relationship between perceptions of the classroom goal structure and early adolescents’ affect in school:  The mediating role of coping strategies.  Learning and Individual Differences, 11, 187-212.

    Marachi, R., Gheen, M., & Midgley, C.   An examination of elementary, middle, and high school teachers' beliefs and approaches to instruction using a goal theory framework. Manuscript under review for publication.

    Middleton, M., Kaplan, A., & Midgley, C.  The relations among middle school students' achievement goals in math over time.  Manuscript under review for publication.

     Middleton, M., & Midgley, C.  (1997).  Avoiding the demonstration of lack of ability:  An under-explored aspect of goal theory.   Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 710-718.

     Middleton, M., & Midgley, C.  (in press).  Beyond motivation: Middle school students' understanding of press for understanding.   Contemporary Educational Psychology.


     Midgley, C., & Edelin, K.  (1998).  Middle school reform and early adolescent well-being:  The good news and the bad.  Educational Psychologist, 33, 195-206.

     Midgley, C., Kaplan, A., & Middleton, M. J. (2001).  Performance-approach goals: Good for what, for whom, under what circumstances, and at what cost?  Journal of Educational Psychology, 93, 77-86.

     Midgley, C., Kaplan, A., Middleton, M., Urdan, T., Maehr. M. L., Hicks, L., Anderman, E., & Roeser, R. W.  (1998).  Development and validation of scales assessing students’ achievement goal orientation.  Contemporary Educational Psychology, 23, 113-131.

     Midgley, C., & Urdan, T.  (2001).  Academic self-handicapping and achievement goals:  A further examination. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 26, 61-75.

     Patrick, H., Anderman, L. H., Ryan, A. M., Edelin, K., & Midgley, C.  (in press).  Teachers' communication of goal orientations in four fifth grade classrooms. Elementary School Journal.

     Patrick, H., Hicks, L., & Ryan, A. M.  (1997).  Relations of perceived social efficacy and social goal pursuit to self-efficacy for academic work.  Journal of Early Adolescence, 17, 109-128.

     Roeser, R., & Midgley, C.  (1997).  Teachers’ views of issues involving students’ mental health.  Elementary School Journal, 98, 115-133.

     Ryan, A. M., Gheen, M. H., & Midgley, C. (1998).  Why do some students avoid asking for help?  An examination of the interplay among students’ academic efficacy, teachers’ social-emotional role, and the classroom goal structure.  Journal of Educational Psychology, 90, 528-535.

     Ryan, A. M., Hicks, L., & Midgley, C.  (1997).  Social goals, academic goals, and avoiding seeking help in the classroom.  Journal of Early Adolescence, 17, 152-171.

     Ryan, A. M., & Patrick, H.  (in press).  The classroom social environment and the development of early adolescent achievement beliefs and behaviors. American Educational Research Journal.

     Ryan, A. M., Pintrich, P. R., & Midgley, C. (2001). Avoiding seeking help in the classroom: Who and why? Educational Psychology Review, 13, 93-114.

     Urdan, T., & Midgley, C. (2001). Academic self-handicapping: What we know; What more there is to learn. Educational Psychology Review, 13, 115-138.

     Urdan, T., Midgley, C., & Anderman, E.  (1998).  The role of classroom goal structure in students’ use of self-handicapping strategies.  American Educational Research Journal, 35, 101-122.

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