Portland State University. Department of Psychology
Date of Award
Master of Science (M.S.) in Psychology
1 online resource (vii, 123 pages)
Achievement motivation in children -- Psychological aspects, Engagement (Philosophy) -- Children, Alienation (Social psychology) -- Children, Early childhood education
The American school system currently faces gaps in achievement between its low-income, minority students and their higher-income, white peers. These gaps exist both in academic and socioemotional skills, are present by kindergarten entry, and persist throughout students' school careers. One proposed strategy through which these gaps may be reduced is through the promotion of student motivation and engagement. In the primary and secondary school settings, these constructs are promoted through teachers' motivational support of students' psychological needs for relatedness, autonomy, and competence. However, the development of these factors prior to kindergarten entry has not been as well studied.
Data from 333 students and their 98 preschool classrooms were used to examine whether highly motivationally supportive preschool experiences can buffer the negative effects of risk in order to support the development of a high sense of motivation and engagement that is sustained across the transition to kindergarten. In terms of normative changes, results indicated that both engagement and disaffection declined across the kindergarten transition. High maternal education was a consistent predictor of increases in engagement and motivation and declines in disaffection across the kindergarten transition. While need support did not consistently buffer the loss of engagement or enhance declines in disaffection, it did seem particularly beneficial for boys, whose motivation and disaffection outcomes tended to improve after preschool experiences characterized by high warmth. Additionally, children's declines in frustration across the kindergarten transition were enhanced by well-structured preschool experiences.
Details of analyses, results, strengths, limitations, and implications for future research are discussed.
Yelverton, Rita McLeod, "Motivation and Engagement Across the Kindergarten Transition: A Self Determination Perspective" (2014). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2026.