This research investigates the complex relationships between the motivational and learning processes of university students in a distance learning mode. Research on why and how Chinese distance learners engage in learning has been limited. Using the achievement goal theory as a research framework, the current study explores the motivational and learning characteristics of a group of distance learners. It is hypothesized that the nature of distance education will lead to specific goal profiles in the students involved, which will subsequently affect their use of various learning and self-regulating strategies, and subsequently their learning outcomes. This paper reports the findings from a survey study, which is part of a larger longitudinal study investigating the learning processes of Chinese distance learners studying at the Open University of Hong Kong 549 undergraduate students enrolled in an educational psychology course completed a questionnaire assessing their achievement goals, learning strategies, self-regulatory strategies and attitudes towards the course.
The results revealed that achievement goals operated as a frame affecting how these distance learners approached their learning and how they perceived the course. The significance of this study lies in that it provides an initial understanding of the motivational and learning processes of the Chinese distance learners. It also extends the research of achievement goal theory by exploring the effects of certain goals often found among distance learners.[Copyright of Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) at http://www.aare.edu.au]