How is academic motivation in children influenced by emotional regulation?

Rosanna Pengelly


Children’s academic achievement is influenced by motivation. Motivation, in turn, is affected by emotional regulation and children’s reactions to poor or high achievement. This study investigated academic motivation to gain an understanding of the attributions (effort, ability, difficulty and luck) made by children on their achievements in a maths test among 25 SEN children (i.e., children with emotional, behavioural and social difficulties) and 44 mainstream children. SEN children made more attributions to effort whereas mainstream children made more attributions to ability. Emotional regulation was measured using the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ). Emotional reappraisal (i.e., reinterpreting the meaning of emotional stimuli) and suppression (i.e., a person’s knowledge of their emotions) did not differ between schools. Results highlight differences in expectations of achievement between schools: Mainstream children, unlike SEN children, were more likely to want to hide their paper with the results of the maths test despite achieving higher scores in the test. This research expands knowledge of the difference in achievement attributions between academic contexts. This topic should be studied further to ultimately raise the academic motivations of SEN and mainstream children alike.

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