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Goal orientation can aid in explaining/predicting behavior in academic settings. This inquiry examined undergraduate agricultural sciences and natural resource students’ reasons for engaging in academic tasks at a land-grant university and determined the influence of academic efficacy, academic self-handicapping and skepticism about the relevance of school for future success on achievement goal orientation (mastery-approach, mastery-avoidance, performance-approach and performance-avoidance). Students possessed multiple reasons for engaging in academic tasks and as a result, we recommend instructors utilize immediate and long-term motivations during the teaching and learning process. Future research should investigate best practice on how to teach students with multiple goal orientations. In addition, a multivariate Tobit regression was used and parameter estimates were significant for academic efficacy and self-handicapping. Instructors should be cognizant of this and provide high-quality academic feedback to support academic efficacy, achievement motivation and skill acquisition and to reduce self-handicapping behaviors. Skepticism about the relevance of school for future success was not a significant predictor of achievement goal orientation and may not be an area of concern for instructors at the University of Tennessee. Future research should seek to determine other factors that influence achievement goal orientations and investigate educational practices that help students develop mastery goals for learning.


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