Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Personal Best (PB) Goal Setting and Students’ Motivation in Science: A Study of Science Valuing and Aspirations

  • Andrew J. Martin (a1), Tracy L. Durksen (a1), Derek Williamson (a2), Julia Kiss (a2) and Paul Ginns (a3)...

To build on prior correlational research into personal best (PB) goals and motivational outcomes, an experimental study was conducted to assess the role of PB goal setting in gains (or declines) in students’ motivation in science (viz. biology, anatomy, health). The study (comprising N = 71 elementary/primary and secondary school students) applied a pre/post-treatment/control group experimental design to test whether setting a PB learning goal in a self-paced science education program (conducted in a museum context) leads to growth in science valuing and science aspirations. The treatment group (PB goal setting), but not the control group, demonstrated significant growth in science aspirations (but not valuing) between pre- and post-testing. This study provides support for the proposition that PB learning goals are associated with motivational growth in students’ lives. Findings also hold implications for museum-based education programs for students.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Professor Andrew J. Martin, School of Education, University of New South WalesNSW 2052, Australia. E-mail:
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

I. Ajzen (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179–211.

E. Anderman , L. Anderman , M. Yough , & B. Gimbert (2010). Value-added models of assessment: Implications for motivation and accountability. Educational Psychologist, 45, 123137.

C.J. Armitage , & M. Conner (2001). Efficacy of the theory of planned behavior: A meta-analytic review. British Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 471499.

C. Beady , R. Slavin , & G. Fennessey (1981) Alternative student evaluation structures and a focused schedule of instruction in an inner-city junior high school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 73, 518523.

J. Cohen (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.

A.M. Cox-Petersen , D.D. Marsh , J. Kisiel , & L.M. Melber (2003). Investigation of guided school tours, student learning, and science reform recommendations at a museum of natural history. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40, 200218.

A.J. Elliot , K. Murayama , & R. Pekrun (2011). A 3 × 2 achievement goal model. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103, 632648.

J.H. Falk , & L.D. Dierking (1997). School field trips: Assessing their long-term impact. Curator: The Museum Journal, 40, 211218.

J. Green , G.A.D. Liem , A.J. Martin , S. Colmar , H.W. Marsh , & D.M. McInerney (2012). Academic motivation, self-concept, engagement, and performance in high school: Key processes from a longitudinal perspective. Journal of Adolescence, 35, 11111122.

G.A. Liem , P. Ginns , A.J. Martin , B. Stone , & M. Herrett (2012). Personal best goals and academic and social functioning: A longitudinal perspective. Learning and Instruction, 22, 222230.

E.A. Locke , & G.P. Latham (2002). Building practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation. American Psychologist, 57, 705717.

A.J. Martin (2006). Personal bests (PBs): A proposed multidimensional model and empirical analysis. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 76, 803825.×55389

A.J. Martin (2011). Personal best (PB) approaches to academic development: Implications for motivation and assessment. Educational Practice and Theory, 33, 9399.

A.J. Martin (2012). The role of Personal Best (PB) goals in the achievement and behavioral engagement of students with ADHD and students without ADHD. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 37, 91105.

A.J. Martin (2013). Improving the achievement, motivation, and engagement of students with ADHD: The role of personal best goals and other growth-based approaches. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 23, 143155.

A.J. Martin , J. Anderson , J. Bobis , J. Way , & R. Vellar (2012). Switching on and switching off in mathematics: An ecological study of future intent and disengagement amongst middle school students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104, 118.

A.J. Martin , & G.A. Liem (2010). Academic personal bests (PBs), engagement, and achievement: A cross-lagged panel analysis. Learning and Individual Differences, 20, 265270.

S. Schwan , A. Grajal , & D. Lewalter (2014). Understanding and engagement in places of science experience: Science museums, science centers, zoos, and aquariums. Educational Psychologist, 49 (2), 7085.

R. Slavin (1980). Effects of individual learning expectations on student achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 72, 520524.

H.M. Watt , J.D. Shapka , Z.A. Morris , A.M. Durik , D.P. Keating , & J.S. Eccles (2012). Gendered motivational processes affecting high school mathematics participation, educational aspirations, and career plans: A comparison of samples from Australia, Canada, and the United States. Developmental Psychology, 48, 15941611.

K. Yu , & A.J. Martin (2014). Personal best (PB) and ‘classic’ achievement goals in the Chinese context: Their role in predicting academic motivation, engagement, and buoyancy. Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology, 34, 635658.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Educational and Developmental Psychologist
  • ISSN: 2059-0776
  • EISSN: 2059-0784
  • URL: /core/journals/educational-and-developmental-psychologist
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 11
Total number of PDF views: 70 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 397 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 19th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.