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Educational Leadership


Rawsonville Elementary is a neighborhood school near Detroit, where the automotive industry is the major employer. Recent layoffs have affected many families in the area, and more than half of the school's 480 students receive reduced or free lunch. Of the district's six elementary schools, Rawsonville has been identified as most in need of Chapter 1 services. For years, the school improvement team had worked hard to improve student motivation and learning. Yet, something was still missing. The number of at-risk and underachieving students entering the school continued to increase.

At the same time, a group of researchers at the University of Michigan had been testing a theory of student motivation known as achievement goal theory (see Maehr and Midgley 1991, Maehr and Pintrich 1991). Their work confirmed what other studies had indicated: The goals that students pursue have a powerful influence on the quality of their learning. Schools, through their policies and practices, give strong messages to students about how success is defined within their walls.

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The document available for download provided with permission from the publisher. Request documentation is on file. This article and others are also available in the online archives of Educational Leadership.

Authors' note: An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Atlanta, 1993. This work was supported in part by grants from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement. The opinions expressed, however, are those of the authors and do not represent OERI policy.

The authors also acknowledge the support of Carol Midgley and Martin Maehr of the University of Michigan and the teachers of Rawsonville Elementary School.


ASCD: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development