Mastery Motivation in Early Childhood: Development, Measurement, and Social Processes

By David Messer | Go to book overview

Chapter 6

Parent and teacher perceptions of young children’s mastery motivation

Assessment and review of research

George A. Morgan, Christine Maslin-Cole, Robert J. Harmon, Nancy A. Busch-Rossnagel, Kay D. Jennings, Penny Hauser-Cram and Lois Brockman

This chapter reviews the published and unpublished research about parent and teacher ratings of young children’s mastery motivation. The Dimensions of Mastery Questionnaire (DMQ), or its predecessor the Mother’s Observation of Mastery Motivation (MOMM), has been used with over thirty samples of 1-5-year-olds, including normally developing, developmentally delayed and premature children.

These studies provide a different perspective on mastery motivation from the more typical mastery motivation study, which has utilized brief behavioural observations of infants working at mastery tasks or during semi-structured play. Thus, researchers have usually observed children for only a small amount of time in a single setting. Parents and teachers, on the other hand, have the opportunity to observe their child over a long period of time and in various settings. Therefore, a questionnaire completed by parents can augment laboratory measures of mastery motivation. In addition, the DMQ provides a quicker and easier measure of young children’s mastery motivation than that gained from behavioural assessments.

If the DMQ produces valid measures—a topic to be discussed in a later section—this would be a significant advantage. We recognize that parents’ perceptions may be influenced not only by the child’s actual behaviour but also by characteristics of their own personalities and response biases. Yet, we view parent and teacher perceptions of mastery motivation as important in themselves because adult perceptions undoubtedly influence the nature of adults’ interactions with the child. The purpose of this chapter is to introduce a useful questionnaire to readers and demonstrate its utility, especially what it can add to other research approaches to mastery motivation.

Barren and Morgan (in press; Barrett, Morgan and Maslin-Cole, this volume, Chapter 5) have proposed that mastery motivation is a multifaceted, intrinsic psychological force that stimulates an individual to attempt to master a skill or task that is at least moderately challenging for him or her (see Morgan, Harmon et al. 1990). Facets of mastery motivation

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