Contests and Learning
At Mason Crest Elementary School in Annandale, where my children are enrolled, the specific mission is "to ensure high levels of learning for all." This mission becomes more obvious with the fact that the teachers in the school generally subscribe to a "mastery" achievement goal as opposed to a "performance" achievement goal. These two goals are usually regarded as two contrasting motivations for learning. The difference between the two are explained for example by Meece, Anderman and Anderman:
A mastery goal orientation is defined in terms of a focus on developing one's abilities, mastering a new skill, trying to accomplish something challenging, and trying to understand learning materials. Success is evaluated in terms of self-improvement, and students derive satisfaction from the inherent qualities of the task, such as its interest and challenge. By contrast, a performance goal orientation represents a focus on demonstrating high ability relative to others, striving to be better than others, and using social comparison standards to make judgments of ability and performance. A sense of accomplishment is derived from doing better than others and surpassing normative performance standards.
The two goals do appear dichotomous. In reality, we may actually be subscribing to a combination of both - the real difference lies mainly on what we heavily emphasize.
Sample items to assess classroom goal structures: Patterns of Adaptive Learning Survey* Mastery goal structure My teacher thinks mistakes are okay as long as we are learning. My teacher wants us to understand our work, not just memorize it. My teacher really wants us to enjoy learning new things. My teacher recognizes us for trying hard. My teacher gives us time to really explore and understand new ideas.
Performance goal structure My teacher points out those students who get good grades as an example to all of us. My teacher lets us know who gets the highest scores on a test. My teacher makes it obvious when certain students are not doing well on their work. My teacher tells us how we compare with other students. Only a few students do really well in my class. My teacher calls on smart students more than on other students.
*From Anderman & Midgley (2002), Midgley et al. (1997).
Growing up in the Philippines, I was exposed early on to academic contests. In fact, I even won first place in an On the Spot Mathematics contest at the Centro Escolar University when I was in first grade. That was at the age of 6 and I was already competing. Competitions are indeed widespread such that one may safely extrapolate that performance goal orientation is quite emphasized in Philippine society. Fortunately, there may be some shift towards mastery goal orientation, as suggested by the following memorandum from the Philippines' DepEd:
July 1, 2014In compliance with DepEd Order No. 8, s. 2013
this Advisory is issued for the information of DepEd officials, personnel/staff, as well as the concerned public.
2014 MTAP-DEPED SATURDAY MATHEMATICS PROGRAMSThe Mathematics Teachers Association of the Philippines (MTAP) will be offering the 2014 MTAP-DepEd Saturday Mathematics Programs for regular pupils/students and for talented pupils/students.
The first program is intended for regular pupils/students. This will be conducted on six Saturdays, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon from August 9 to September 13, 2014. The sessions will be for pupils/students who belong from the 25th to the 85th percentile at each grade/year level from Grade 1 to Fourth Year. A written permit from the parents is necessary.
The first program aims to:
1. provide the pupils and students the opportunity to explore Mathematics without the threat of tests;
2. review the materials covered last school year that enabled them to do well in Mathematics in the present school year; and
3. prepare the Grade 6 pupils and Fourth Year students for entrance examinations for First Year high school and college levels.
The second program is for mathematically talented pupils/students. This will be conducted on seven Saturdays, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon from October 11 to November 29, 2014, except November 1, 2014. The sessions will be for pupils/students who belong to the top 15th percentile. The school principal shall endorse the pupils/students who wish to participate, along with a written permit from their
The second program aims to:
1. prepare the Grade 6 pupils and Fourth Year students for entrance examinations for First Year high school and college levels; and
2. prepare them for the Metrobank-MTAP-DepEd Math Challenge Competition.
More information may be inquired from:
The Mathematics Teachers Association of the Philippines (MTAP)
039 Oxford St. corner Columbia Street
Cubao, Quezon City
Telephone Nos.: (02) 912-5249; (02) 709-0447