Physics Goal Orientation Survey (PGOS)

Developed by Christine Lindstrøm and Manjula D. Sharma

Purpose To assess students’ motivation and goal orientations in university-level physics courses.
Format Pre/post, Multiple-choice, Agree/disagree
Duration 5 min
Focus Beliefs / Attitudes (goal orientation, motivation)
Level Intermediate, Intro college

Sample statements from the PGOS:

I can answer more physics questions than other students.

      1 Strongly disagree    2 Disagree    3 Neutral    4 Agree    5 Strongly agree

I understand a new physics concept by trying hard.

      1 Strongly disagree    2 Disagree    3 Neutral    4 Agree    5 Strongly agree

I work in a group on physics problems.

      1 Strongly disagree    2 Disagree    3 Neutral    4 Agree    5 Strongly agree

I can complete an assignment without really having understood the answers.

      1 Strongly disagree    2 Disagree    3 Neutral    4 Agree    5 Strongly agree


PGOS Implementation Guide

Everything you need to know about implementing the PGOS in your class.

C. Lindstrøm and M. Sharma, Development of a Physics Goal Orientation Survey, Int. J. Innov. Sci. Math. Educ. 18 (2), 10 (2010).
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Silver Validation
This is the second highest level of research validation, corresponding to at least 5 of the validation categories below.

Research Validation Summary

Based on Research Into:

  • Student thinking

Studied Using:

  • Student interviews
  • Expert review
  • Appropriate statistical analysis

Research Conducted:

  • At multiple institutions
  • By multiple research groups
  • Peer-reviewed publication

The 5-point Likert agree/disagree questions on the PGOS were taken from a previous survey of goal orientation by Duda and Nicholls (1992) and revised so that they would be appropriate for a university level physics course. Several new questions were created to ensure each goal orientation category had a sufficient number of questions to probe it. The PGOS questions underwent expert review. The PGOS was given to over 1500 students, including physics majors and non-majors, at the University of Sydney over a three-year time period. A factor analysis was performed on three different versions of the PGOS, to ensure that students’ views of which questions were similar was the same as the intended categories of goal orientations. Version 3 of the PGOS had appropriate factor loadings for the goal orientation categories. Focus groups which were conducted with a subset of students to help the developers better understand students’ goal orientations. The PGOS has been given to over 1500 students at one university, and the results published in two peer-reviewed articles.


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Download the PGOS answer key.

Typical Results

Typical scores for the four goal orientations from Lindstrom and Sharma 2010:

The most recent version of the PGOS, published in 2010, is version 4.