Developmental trajectories of school-beginners' ability self-concept, intrinsic value and performance in mathematics

Markku Niemivirta*, Anna Tapola, Heta Tuominen, Jaana Viljaranta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Background: Although research clearly demonstrates the importance of motivation in mathematics learning, relatively little is known about the developmental dynamics between different facets of mathematics motivation and performance, especially in the early years of schooling. Aims: In a longitudinal setting, we examined (1) how children's ability self-concept and intrinsic value in mathematics change over time during their first 3 years in school, (2) how those changes relate to each other and (3) how they connect with mathematics performance. Sample: The participants were 285 Finnish school-beginners (52.7% girls). Methods: Latent growth curve modelling was used to examine the developmental trajectories of children's ability self-concept and intrinsic value, and how those trajectories predicted later mathematics achievement (both mathematics test performance and teacher-rated grades), while controlling for previous mathematics performance and gender. Results: The results showed significant decreases in children's ability self-concept and intrinsic value, but also significant individual differences in the trajectories. The strong dependency between the levels and changes in self-concept and intrinsic value led us to specify a factor-of-curves latent growth curve model, thus merging the trajectories of ability self-concept and intrinsic value into one common model. Subsequent results showed prior mathematics performance to predict change in children's mathematics motivation, and both the level and change in mathematics motivation to predict third-grade performance and teacher-rated grade. Conclusions: Our findings provide evidence for a developmental link between children's ability self-concept, intrinsic value and achievement. Achievement seems to enhance mathematics motivation, and positive motivation appears to support the further development of mathematics skills.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • ability self-concept
  • development
  • elementary school
  • intrinsic value
  • mathematics

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