A motivation treatment to enhance goal engagement in online learning environments: Assisting failure-prone college students with low optimism.

Motivation treatments to enhance goal engagement can improve academic outcomes for college students with single academic risk factors (Hamm, Perry, Chipperfield, Heckhausen, & Parker, 2016), but their efficacy remains unexamined for students with multiple risk factors in online learning environments. In a pre-post, randomized treatment study (n = 628), a theory-based goal engagement treatment (Heckhausen, Wrosch, & Schulz, 2010) was administered online to college students who varied in high school grades (HSG; low, high) and optimism (low, high). For students with co-occurring risk factors (low HSG—low optimism), the goal engagement treatment (vs. no-treatment) improved performance by a full letter grade on three posttreatment class tests in a two-semester course. The treatment also increased the odds of two-semester course completion by 89% for low HSG—low optimism students. Findings advance the literature in showing that a scalable and theory-based goal engagement treatment can assist college students with multiple academic risk factors. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)