Patashnick, 1989; Nicholls, Cobb, Wood, Yackel, & Patashnick, 1989; Nicholls, Patashnick, & Nolen, 1985; Spence & Helmreich, 1983).

Ego orientation implies that one's purpose is the egotistical one of establishing one's superiority over others: One feels successful when establishing that one's ability is superior. Task orientation involves the purpose of gaining knowledge or performing one's best: One feels successful if one figures something out or thoroughly stretches one's skills. (The goal of "goofing off" or avoiding work also emerges as a separate dimension in most studies e.g., Nicholls et al., 1985 and Table 12.1.)

The questions used to assess motivational orientation are of the form, "What makes you feel really successful in school?" For younger students, the questions are of the form, "What makes you feel really pleased when you are doing schoolwork?" We find that success is not the same everywhere. One person's success or desired outcome is often not another's. Task orientation is indicated if students say that the experience of understanding occasions the feeling of success. Ego orientation is indicated if students feel successful when they show they are more able than their peers.