The Effects of Temperament and Schooling on Achievement Motivation in First-Grade Children




Patel, Dhvani M.

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As early as first grade, children begin to present differentiated achievement motivation patterns—mastery goals (engaging in a task for challenge) and performance goals (engaging in a task to demonstrate competence) (Dweck, 1986). Some children remain stable in their achievement goals over time, while others will change their goal patterns. This study longitudinally investigated changes in children’s achievement goals over the course of first-grade, with a specific focus on the role of temperament and the school context. With a better understanding of how temperament and the school context impacts children’s achievement motivation, we can identify different achievement trajectories for children early in their academic career. For this study, 47 first-grade children were recruited from a local school system in Northern Virginia. A multi-method approach was utilized to assess achievement motivation, temperament, and academic performance using several measures; a commonly used Puzzle Task (Smiley and Dweck), a puppet measure based on the Berkeley Puppet Interview (Measelle, Ablow, Cowan, & Cowan, 1998), and the Children’s Behavior Questionnaire (Putnam & Rothbart, 2006). Results indicated that changes in children’s achievement motivation were evident, with more children becoming performance oriented over time. Additionally, results indicated that multiple temperament patterns and academic contexts interacted to shape children’s achievement goals over the course of first-grade.



Achievement motivation, Temperament, Motivation, Elementary children, Puppets, Effects of school environment