Teachers’ Perceptions of Academic Intrinsic Motivation for Students With Disabilities

Johny R. Daniel, North Cooc
  • The Journal of Special Education, March 2018, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0022466918765276

Teachers’ Perceptions of Academic Intrinsic Motivation for Students with Disabilities

What is it about?

Students who report higher levels of academic intrinsic motivation (IM) have better academic achievement (Taboada et al., 2009), take a more favorable outlook toward challenges (Wigfield et al., 2004), and gain a deeper understanding of the content (Schiefele, 1999). While researchers have extensively studied the effects of IM on typically developing children, there is less information on IM for students with disabilities. The purpose of this study was to use a nationally representative sample of students with disabilities from the Special Education Elementary Longitudinal Study (Holden-Pitt, 2005) to measure IM variability in different student disability categories.

Why is it important?

This study provides information on how teachers' perceptions of academic IM varies across disability categories. Future studies should expand the scope of this research using self-reported data from students identified with different disabilities. However, for certain students with severe intellectual disability or students with ASD requiring substantial support, proxy measures such as parent or teacher report may be the best way to evaluate individuals' IM. Future studies could also be designed to compare self-reported IM data from students with disabilities with data of proxy report (i.e. teacher, caregiver) of IM among student populations to determine the strength of correlation between the two variables. It would also be interesting to determine whether engagement in classroom activities, such as classroom discussion and peer work, are an accurate indicator of self-reported academic motivation among students with disabilities as it is for their typically developing peers (Brophy, 2010). Such studies are necessary because students with disabilities are sometimes unable to participate in collaborative work due to factors other than motivation. It may also provide an impetus to motivation theorists to revisit IM theory and provide a theoretical framework that accommodates variance in observable motivation behavior between typically developing students and students with disabilities.


johny daniel (Author)
University of Texas at Austin

I hope this article helps teachers rethink the way they perceive academic intrinsic motivation in students with disabilities.

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