Mastery motivation in children with Down syndrome
Glenn S. , Dayus B. , Cunningham C. , and Horgan M.
Abstract - Mastery motivation refers to the intrinsic motivation children have to interact with their environments in order to learn about them. It appears early in life, and has been regarded by many researchers as a key motivator for development. It has also been suggested that young school age children with Down syndrome show lowered motivation to perform tasks. It is important to know if this low motivation is present from the start, or develops as a result of environmental experiences; studies of mastery motivation have been one way of investigating this issue.
However definitions of mastery motivation, and hence empirical studies, have varied. Thus this paper starts by revisiting the issues surrounding definition and measurement. There is general agreement on some issues: that mastery motivation is intrinsic, that it is manifest in different behaviours as the child develops, that there are individual differences in mastery behaviour, and that these are affected by environmental factors. There is also current agreement that it is essential to remove the confound of differing levels of developmental competence by using individualised measurement. However there is disagreement about which behaviours best index mastery motivation. Some empirical work with infants with Down syndrome is reviewed, and results from a recent longitudinal study on the development of mastery motivation are presented. The results concurred with most others in the recent literature, suggesting that low mastery motivation is not inevitable in infancy in Down syndrome. Infants with Down syndrome showed similar patterns of development as typically developing children, with slight delays. It is argued that longitudinal studies are needed to demonstrate such patterns of development.
As the children developed from 6 to 24 months mental age there was no evidence for decreasing levels of mastery motivation. Thus there was no support for the view that more failure experiences impact on levels of mastery motivation. In contrast caregivers did see their young children with Down syndrome as less object mastery oriented than did caregivers of typically developing children. The caregivers of children with Down syndrome were also significantly more directive in their interactions with their children, and there was some suggestion that individual differences in mastery behaviours were related to levels of mastery behaviours in their children. The final section speculates on reasons for these results, and makes suggestions for future work.
Source - Glenn S. , Dayus B. , Cunningham C. , and Horgan M. . (2001). Mastery motivation in children with Down syndrome Down Syndrome Research and Practice, 7(2), 52-59.