Methods: A sample of 118 academically at-risk students in Grade 6 (58 boys; 60 girls; Mage = 11.78 years, SD = 0.47) participated in the study. Of these students, 59 received mentoring from a teacher while they were in high school (teacher-student mentoring group). Using a propensity-score method, they were matched to 59 students who had similar characteristics on gender, academic competence, academic amotivation, and anxiety (comparison group). Participants answered questionnaires in Grades 6 (end of elementary school) and 11 (end of high school).
Results: Multiple linear regression analyses conducted in Mplus (version 7.11) showed that approach goals in Grade 6 predicted higher levels of academic adjustment in Grade 11 (mastery-approach: β = .19; performance-approach: β = .19) while the opposite pattern was obtained with performance-avoidance goals (β = -.31). These findings were obtained while controlling for students’ gender, academic achievement, and specialized interventions received for severe problems (e.g., remedial education, psychotherapy, counselling). Additionally, mastery-approach goals predicted a more positive personal-emotional adjustment at the end of high school (β = .16) while performance-avoidance goals predicted lower levels (β = -.14). Finally, moderating analyses indicated that students who were low in approach goals had a better academic, social, and personal-emotional adjustment when they were supported by a teacher-mentor.
Conclusions: The results of this study suggested that teacher support outside his/her classroom can help prevent adjustment problems in high school. This support could be particularly beneficial for academically at-risk students in elementary school who are less oriented toward developing their academic competence. Taken together, these findings have implications for high school dropout prevention efforts.