Goal Setting, Conditions of practice, and task performance: A resource allocation perspective

Hypotheses regarding the influence of goal assignments on performance of a novel, complex task under varying conditions of practice were derived from a cognitive resource allocation model. Goals and type of practice interacted in their effects on two key performance measures. In the massed-practice conditions, trainees assigned specific, difficult goals tended to perform poorer than trainees in the control (do your best goal) condition. In the spaced-practice conditions, goal trainees performed marginally better than control trainees. Self-report measures of goal commitment, and on-task, off-task, and affective thoughts during breaks and task performance provide additional evidence for the independent and interactive effects of goals and practice conditions on motivation and performance. Results provide further support for the resource allocation framework. Implications for research and practice are discussed.