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Teacher perceptions of their students and their motivational practices

Hornstra, L. and Mansfield, C.F. (2012) Teacher perceptions of their students and their motivational practices. In: 27th Annual Research Forum (Western Australian Institute for Educational Research Inc) Transforming practice: The value of educational research, 11 August 2012, University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, Western Australia


In motivation research, mastery oriented motivational practices that emphasise students' striving towards mastery and understanding are believed to result in more adaptive motivational outcomes in comparison to performance oriented motivational practices that emphasise extrinsic rewards or focus on students' relative ability (e.g., Meece, Anderman, & Anderman, 2006). However, previous research has shown that teachers often rely on performance oriented strategies and consider such strategies to be more effective (e.g. Turner 2010).

Teacher beliefs about what is most suitable and motivating for their specific student population may be a very important determinant of their motivational practices. This qualitative study therefore explores how teacher perceptions of their classroom cohort, in terms of students' ability and background characteristics, influence their beliefs about and their actual motivational practices. Our first preliminary results, obtained through interviews with nine grade-six teachers at different schools throughout the Netherlands, indicate that teachers who perceive their student population to be of low ability and from disadvantaged backgrounds find performance-oriented motivational practices more effective for their students, whereas teachers who perceive their student population to be of higher ability and from more advantaged backgrounds are more inclined to use mastery-oriented motivational approaches.

Keywords: motivational practices, student motivation, perceptions of students

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
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