The effects of gender, year in school, plans to play professionally, and identity on student athletes' adoption of goal orientations in academics

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Creasy, Adam C.

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Goal orientation theory has been used extensively to help explain achievement behavior in both the academic and athletic domains. In both areas, learning goals are widely regarded as most beneficial while performance-avoidance goals are viewed as detrimental to achievement and motivation. Performance-approach goals offer both positive and negative effects. Identity theory posits that an individual’s behavior can be somewhat predicted based on identity saliency. The identity an individual places at the top of his or her identity hierarchy will typically govern his or her behavior in a wide variety of domains. Therefore, for student athletes who are highly identified with the athlete role, their behavior should be governed by that role in numerous domains, including academics. The primary purpose of this study was to identify the influence of identity hierarchy structure on the adoption of each particular goal orientation in academics. The variables gender, year in school, and plans to play professionally were predicted to interact with identity hierarchy to predict the adoption of each academic goal orientation. The results of the regression analyses revealed several non-significant relationships among the variables and interaction terms, thus suggesting subjects were more homogeneous in their adoption of academic goal orientations than anticipated. The results of the study did reveal several significant correlations; most notable among them were positive correlations between identity hierarchy (eg., high athletic identity) and the variables gender (1=male, 0=female), scholarship status (1=none, 2=partial, 3=full), and plans to play professionally (1=yes, 0=no). This study also attempted to validate a measure of identity hierarchy structure and a measure of trichotomized athletic goal orientations. Using exploratory factor analysis, all subscales yielded alpha coefficients of .70 or higher for reliability of scores. Implications of the study may help student athletes, academic counselors, and career counselors better understand student athletes’ academic achievement.