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Motivation in the junior years : international perspectives on children's attitudes, expectations and behaviour and their relationship to educational achievement

Elliot, J. and Hufton, N. and Illushin, L. and Lauchlan, Fraser (2001) Motivation in the junior years : international perspectives on children's attitudes, expectations and behaviour and their relationship to educational achievement. Oxford Review of Education, 27 (1). pp. 37-68. ISSN 0305-4985

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Abstract

This paper reports findings from a large-scale international investigation of a number of factors that are considered to impact upon educational motivation and achievement. Following on from an earlier investigation of adolescent attitudes, the present study involved a detailed survey of nearly 3,000 children, aged 9-10 from districts in England, Russia and the USA, together with teacher reports and the employment of a test of basic mathematical computation. The Russian sample scored significantly more highly on the computation test and showed no large tail of underachievers, as was the case with the other groups. Findings from the survey indicate that many of the differences found in the earlier adolescent study are equally true for younger children. The Russian children were less likely to express satisfaction with their abilities or workrates, were more positive towards school, more likely to see education as intrinsically valuable and tended to spend significantly more time on homework tasks. Data obtained also suggest that the Russian sample experienced classrooms with far less disruption and stronger prosocial peer influences than did the English and American children. Teacher understandings of what is considered to be acceptable behaviour appeared to differ, however. The paper notes that the Western samples overestimated their teachers' views of their ability while the Russian children provided underestimates. Possible reasons for, and implications of, these differential teacher messages are discussed. The paper concludes by examining the implications of the findings from the study for increasing motivation and achievement in countries with very different sociocultural contexts.