Term of Award

Summer 2014

Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)


Department of Health and Kinesiology

Committee Chair

Brandonn Harris

Committee Member 1

Daniel Czech

Committee Member 2

Jody Langdon


Theorized by Nicholls (1984), achievement goal theory describes the interaction of one’s perceived ability and two goal orientations, known as “task” and “ego,” that an athlete employs when setting goals. These goal orientations are what athletes employ when playing their sport. The result of this interaction is an athlete’s achievement behavior. Previous research has examined this theory extensively (Newton & Duda, 1999; Chin, Khoo, & Low, 2012; Smoll, Smith, & Cumming, 2007; White & Zellner, 1996). However, few studies have solely looked at factors that predict one’s achievement goal orientations. The purpose of this study is to address which demographic variables (Division, gender, and year in school) as well as the theoretical constructs of achievement goal theory (perceived competence and motivational climate) have the most influence in understanding an athlete’s achievement goal orientations. Furthermore, this study will isolate each demographic variable and break it down into substrates (i.e. gender: male and female) to see if there were differences between them regarding the athlete’s achievement goal orientations. Participants include 143 undergraduate students from universities across the Midwest and Southeastern United States. Results of the study indicated that mastery climate and Division type scores had an impact on an athlete’s task score (r = .444, p =.001, r = .259, p =.048), while Division type was the sole predictor of an athlete’s ego scores (r = -.340, p < .05). Analysis of the demographic variables displayed a difference between Division type and ego scores (T (141) = 2.155, p = .034, d= .36) such that Division I (M= 2.91) had higher ego scores compared to Division III (M= 2.62).

INDEX WORDS: sport psychology, motivation, achievement goal theory