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Target Framework

How are motivational climate and motivational orientation linked? Why is this link significant?

Within the achievement motivation literature, two climates are defined: mastery climate and performance climate. Consider the TARGET framework proposed by Epstein and the factors that influence the motivational climate. How are motivational climate and motivational orientation linked? Why is this link significant? What is missing in the literature regarding the link between climate and orientation and their effects on achievement motivation?

“So an individual, therefore, would constantly be using others as a measuring stick for themselves. This lends toward weak results and weak scientific explanations, especially when the pool of peers are low performers.”

Within the achievement motivation literature, there have been large contributions to the discussion. Many of its contributors have offered their take on how individuals process goals, muster motivation, and ultimately reach this proverbial place of achievement. Elliot and Thrash ( 2001) attempt to explain this phenomenon by proposing that the majority of scholars who have contributed in explaining the achievement goal construct fall namely in one of two categories. Firstly, is the 'purpose' in which any said individual engages in achievement motivation behavior, and the second approach has been attributed mainly to how the several variables working concert create an 'orientation' for the desire tasks (Elliot & Thrash, 2001).

Epstein's TARGET model has also been used through the course of time to explain the factors that influence the motivational climate. TARGET is an acronym for Task, Authority, Recognition, Grouping, Evaluation, and Time (Boyce, 2009). Motivational climate and motivational orientation are linked, namely because ones climate i.e. environmental factors can play large role on one's behavior. There has been an abundance of research and environmental factors on personality. In longitudinal study by Hopwood et al. (2011), it was found that environmental factors were largely responsible for personality changes over the duration of one's life. The reason why this link is significant is because you cannot study one construct without the other. Personality must be studied concurrently with environment, and the other way around. There is no getting around it. Although Epstein's model covered several variables, the missing link seems to be 'environment'. It is within this construct that we are able to determine how every other variable is to play itself out over time. This is very important especially when studying high performers.


Boyce, A. (2009). Creating instructional environments that keep students on target. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 80(1), 49 - 56.

Elliot, A. J., & Thrash, T. M. (2001). Achievement goals and the hierarchical model of achievement motivation. Educational Psychology Review, 13(2), 139-156.

Hopwood, C. J., Donnellan, M., Blonigen, D. M., Krueger, R. F., McGue, M., Iacono, W. G., & Burt, S. (2011). Genetic and environmental influences on personality trait stability and growth during the transition to adulthood: A three-wave longitudinal study. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 100(3), 545-556. doi:10.1037/a0022409

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