We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Joe Elliott

Elliott, J., Hufton, N., Illushin, L. & Lauchlan, F. (2001). Motivation in the junior years: international perspectives on children's attitudes, expectations and behaviour and their relationship to educational achievement. Oxford Review of Education 27(1): 37-68.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper reports findings from a large-scale international investigation of a number of factors that are considered to impact upon educational motivation and achievement. Following on from an earlier investigation of adolescent attitudes, the present study involved a detailed survey of nearly 3,000 children, aged 9-10 from districts in England, Russia and the USA, together with teacher reports and the employment of a test of basic mathematical computation. The Russian sample scored significantly more highly on the computation test and showed no large tail of underachievers, as was the case with the other groups. Findings from the survey indicate that many of the differences found in the earlier adolescent study are equally true for younger children. The Russian children were less likely to express satisfaction with their abilities or workrates, were more positive towards school, more likely to see education as intrinsically valuable and tended to spend significantly more time on homework tasks. Data obtained also suggest that the Russian sample experienced classrooms with far less disruption and stronger prosocial peer influences than did the English and American children. Teacher understandings of what is considered to be acceptable behaviour appeared to differ, however. The paper notes that the Western samples overestimated their teachers' views of their ability while the Russian children provided underestimates. Possible reasons for, and implications of, these differential teacher messages are discussed. The paper concludes by examining the implications of the findings from the study for increasing motivation and achievement in countries with very different sociocultural contexts.


ALEXANDER, R.J. (1999) Culture in pedagogy, pedagogy across cultures in: R.J. ALEXANDER,
P. BROADFOOT & D. PHILLIPS (Eds) Learning from Comparing: new directions
in comparative education research, Vol. 1 (London, Symposium Books).
ALEXANDER, R.J. (2000) Culture and Pedagogy (Oxford, Blackwell).
ANDERMAN, E.M. (1997) Motivation and school reform, in: M.MAEHR & P. PINTRICH
(Eds.) Advances in Motivation and Achievement Vol. 10 (Greenwich, CT, JAI
ANDERMAN, E.M. & MAEHR, M.L. (1994) Motivation and schooling in the middle
grades, Review of Educational Research, 64, pp. 287–309.
ANDERMAN, E.M. & MIDGLEY, C. (1997) Changes in achievement goal orientations,
perceived academic competence, and grades across the transition to middle-level
schools, Contemporary Educational Psychology, 22, pp. 269–298.
AUBREY, C. (1998) Lessons from Abroad: looking out in order to look in on primary
mathematics. Inaugural professorial lecture, Canterbury Christ Church University
BAN, T. & CUMMINGS, W.K. (1999) Moral orientations of schoolchildren in the United
States and Japan, Comparative Education Review, 43, pp. 64–85.
BARBER, M. (1996) The Learning Game (London, Victor Gollancz).
BARBER,M. & SEBBA, J. (1999) Re ections on progress towards a world class education
system, Cambridge Journal of Education, 29, pp. 183–193.
D.L. (1996a) Science Achievement in the Middle School Years: I.E.A.’s Third International
Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) (Boston, Boston College).
T.A. (1996b) Mathematics Achievement in the Middle School Years: I.E.A.’s Third
International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) (Boston, Boston College).
BEMPECHAT, J. & DRAGO-SEVERSON, E. (1999) Cross-national differences in academic
achievement: beyond etic conceptions of children’s understandings, Review of
Educational Research, 69, pp. 287–314.
BEMPECHAT, J. & ELLIOTT, J.G. (Eds.) (in prep.) Achievement Motivation in Culture and
Context: understanding children’s learning experiences (San Francisco, CA, Jossey-
BIGGS, J. (1994) What are effective schools? Lessons from East and West, Australian
Educational Researcher, 21, pp. 19–39.
BISHOP, J.H. (1989) Why the apathy in American high schools? Educational Researcher,
18, pp. 7–10.
BLATCHFORD, P. (1996) Pupils’ views on school work and school from 7 to 16 years,
Research Papers in Education, 11, pp. 263–288.
BROADFOOT, P. (1999) Comparative research on pupil achievement: in search of
validity, reliability and utility, in: R.J. ALEXANDER, P. BROADFOOT & D. PHILLIPS
(Eds) Learning from Comparing: new directions in comparative education research, Vol.
1 (London, Symposium Books).
BRONFENBRENNER, U. (1971) The Two Worlds of Childhood (London, Allen and Unwin).
BRONFENBRENNER, U. (1986) Ecology of the family as a context for human development:
research perspectives. Developmental Psychology, 22, pp. 723–742.
BROWN, M. (1998) Findings lost amid political jockeying, Times Educational Supplement,
p. 17, (20th March).
BROWN,M. (1999) Values behind the National Numeracy Strategy. Paper presented at the
Annual Conference of the British Educational Research Association (Sussex).
BURGHES, D. (1996) Education across the world: the Kassel Project. Paper presented at
conference ‘Lessons from Abroad: Learning from international experience in
education’ (London).
BURTON, D. (1997) The myth of ‘expertness’: cultural and pedagogical obstacles to
restructuring East European curricula, British Journal of In-service Education, 23,
pp. 219–229.
CAPLAN, N.,WHITMORE, J.K. & CHOY,M.H. (1989) The boat people and achievement
in America: a study of family life, hard work, and cultural values (Ann Arbor, MI,
University of Michigan Press).
American youth for the 21st century (Report of the Task Force on Education of
Young Adolescents) (New York, C.C.A.D).
CHENEY, L. (1993) Hard work, once as American as apple pie. Wall Street Journal, 5
CHUPROV, V. & ZUBOK, I. (1997) Social con ict in the sphere of the education of
youth, Education in Russia, the Independent States and Eastern Europe, 15, pp. 47–58.
COLE, D.A.,MAXWELL, S.E. & MARTIN, J.M. (1997) Re ected self-appraisals: strength
and structure of the relation of teacher, peer and parent ratings to children’s
self-perceived competencies, Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, pp. 55–70.
CORRIGAN, P. (1979) Schooling the Smash Street Kids (London, Macmillan)
COVINGTON, M.V. (1992) Making the Grade: a self-worth perspective on motivation and
school reform (Cambridge, MA, Cambridge University Press).
Class Schools: some further Ž ndings (unpublished paper).
CROSSLEY, M. (1999) Reconceptualising comparative and international education,
Compare, 29, pp. 249–267.
CSIKSZENTMIHALYI , M. (1990) Flow: The psychology of optimal experience (New York,
Harper & Row).
CSIKSZENTMIHALYI , M., RATHUNDE, K. & WHALEN, S. (1997) Talented teenagers: the
roots of success and failure (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press).
DAMON, W. (1995) Greater Expectations (New York, Free Press).
DEAN, C. (1998) Standards are not parents’ top priority, Times Educational Supplement,
(9 October), p.1.
EATON, M.J. & DEMBO, M.H. (1997) Differences in the motivational beliefs of Asian
American and Non-Asian students, Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, pp.
EKLOF, B. & DNEPROV, E. (1993). Democracy in the Russian School: the reform movement
in education since 1984 (Oxford, Westview Press).
ELLIOTT, J.G. (1998) Raising educational achievement: what can we learn from overseas?
Inaugural professorial lecture, University of Sunderland.
ELLIOTT, J.G., HUFTON, N., HILDRETH, A. & ILLUSHIN, L. (1999) Factors in uencing
educational motivation: a study of attitudes, expectations and behaviour of children
in Sunderland, Kentucky and St Petersburg, British Educational Research
Journal, 25, pp. 75–94.
ESPINOZA, J.A. & GARZA, T. (1985) Social group salience and inter-ethnic cooperation,
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 21, pp. 380–392.
FARROW, S., TYMMS, P. & HENDERSON, B. (1999) Homework and attainment in
primary schools, British Educational Research Journal, 25, pp. 323–341.
FITZPATRICK, M. (1999) Dawn of a new creativity, Times Educational Supplement, (18
June) p. 24.
FOXMAN, D. (1992) Learning Mathematics and Science (The Second International Assessment
of Educational Progress in England) (Slough, NFER).
FULIGNI, A.J. (1997) The academic achievement of adolescents from immigrant families:
the roles of family background, attitudes, and behavior, Child Development, 68,
pp. 351–363.
FULLER, B. & CLARKE, P. (1994) Raising school effects while ignoring culture? Local
conditions and the in uence of classroom, tools, rules and pedagogy, Review of
Educational Research, 64, pp. 119–157.
FURMAN, W. & BUHRMESTER, D. (1985) Children’s perceptions of the personal relationships
in their social network, Developmental Psychology, 21, pp. 1016–1024.
GALTON, M., HARGREAVES, L., COMBER, C.,WALL, D. & PELL, T. (1999) Changes in
patterns of teacher interaction in primary classrooms: 1976–96, British Educational
Research Journal, 25, pp. 23–37.
GARDNER, H. (1991) The Unschooled Mind (New York, Basic Books).
GIPPS, C. & TUNSTALL, P. (1998) Effort, ability and the teacher: young children’s
explanations for success and failure, Oxford Review of Education, 24, pp. 149–165.
GLOWKA, D. (1995) Schulen und unterricht im vergleich. Rusland/Deutschland (Schools and
teaching in comparison: Russia and Germany) (New York, Waxmann Verlag).
GOODNOW, J.J. (1998) Contexts of achievement, in: S.G. PARIS & H.M. WELLMAN
(Eds) Global Prospects for Education: development, culture and schooling (Washington,
D.C., American Psychological Association).
HALADYNA, T. & THOMAS, G. (1979) The attitudes of elementary school children
toward school and subject matters, Journal of Experimental Education, 48, pp.
HARRIS, J.R. (1995) Where is the child’s environment? A group socialisation theory of
development, Psychological Review, 102, pp. 458–489.
HARTER, S. (1996) Teacher and classmate in uences upon scholastic motivation,
self-esteem, and level of voice in adolescents, in: J. JUVONEN & K.R. WENTZEL
(Eds) Social Motivation: understanding children’s school adjustment (Cambridge,
Cambridge University Press).
HATANO, G. (1990) Towards the cultural psychology of mathematical cognition:
commentary, Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 55 (Serial
No. 221).
HATANO, G. & INAGAKI, K. (1998) Cultural contexts of schooling revisited: a review of
‘The Learning Gap’ from a cultural psychology perspective, in: S.G. PARIS & H.M.
WELLMAN (Eds) Global prospects for education: development, culture and schooling
(Washington, D.C., American Psychological Association).
HESS, R.D. & AZUMA, M. (1991) Cultural support for schooling: contrasts between
Japan and the United States, Educational Researcher, 20, pp. 2–8.
HESS, R.D., CHIH-MEI, C. & MCDEVITT, T.M. (1987) Cultural variations in family
beliefs about children’s performance in mathematics: comparisons among People’s
Republic of China, Chinese-American, and Caucasian-American families, Journal
of Educational Psychology, 79, pp. 179–188.
HOFSTEDE, G. (1980) Culture’s Consequences: international differences in work-related
values (Beverly Hills, CA, Sage).
HUFTON, N. & ELLIOTT, J.G. (2000) Motivation to learn: the pedagogical nexus in the
Russian school: some implications for transnational research and policy borrowing,
Educational Studies, 26, pp. 115–136.
HUFTON,N., ELLIOTT, J.G. & ILLUSHIN, L. (submitted) Motivation to learn: the elusive
role of culture—qualitative accounts from three countries.
HUFTON, N., ELLIOTT, J.G. & ILLUSHIN, L. & WILLIS, W. (in prep.) Teacher perceptions
of the role of educational reform in heightening student motivation: a three
nation study.
JUVONEN, J. (1996) Self-presentation tactics promoting teacher and peer approval: the
function of excuses and other clever explanations, in: J. JUVONEN & K.R.WENTZEL
(Eds) Social Motivation: understanding children’s school adjustment (Cambridge,
Cambridge University Press).
JUVONEN, J. & MURDOCH, T.B. (1993) How to promote social approval: the effects of
audience and outcome on publicly communicated attributions, Journal of Educational
Psychology, 85, pp. 365–376.
JUVONEN, J. & MURDOCH, T.B. (1995) Grade-level differences in the social value of
effort: implications for self-presentation tactics of early adolescents, Child Development,
66, pp. 1694–1705.
JUVONEN, J. & NISHINA, A. (1997) Social motivation in the classroom: attributional
accounts and developmental analysis, in: M. MAEHR & P. PINTRICH (Eds) Advances
in Motivation and Achievement Vol. 10 (Greenwich, CT, JAI Press).
KAISER, R.G. (1984) Russia: the people and the power (New York, Washington Square
KARAKOVSKY, V.A. (1993) The school in Russia today and tomorrow, Compare, 23, pp.
KEYS, W., HARRIS, S. & FERNANDES, C. (1997a) Third International Mathematics and
Science Study, First National Report (Part 2) (Slough, NFER).
KEYS, W., HARRIS, S. & FERNANDES, C. (1997b) Third International Mathematics and
Science Study, Second National Report (Part 2) (Slough, NFER).
KITAYAMA, S. & MARKUS, H. (1990, August) Culture and Emotion: the role of other-focused
emotions. Paper presented at the 98th Annual Convention of the American
Psychological Association, Boston.
KON, I.S. (1989) The psychology of independence, Soviet Education, 9, pp. 57–64.
KURTZ, B.E., CARR, M. & SCHNEIDER, W. (1988) Development of Attributional Beliefs
and Self-concept in German and American Children. Annual meeting of the American
Educational Research Association, New Orleans (April).
Sources of memory and metamemory development: societal, parental and educational
in uences, in: M. GRUNEBERG, P. MORRIS & R. SYKES (Eds) Proceedings of
the Second International Conference on Practical Aspects of Memory, Volume 2, (New
York, John Wiley).
LAIHIALA-KANKAINEN, S. (1998) Russian Pupils in Finnish Schools—problems created by
differences in pedagogical cultures. Paper presented at the European Conference on
Educational Research, Slovenia.
LIGHTBODY, P., SIANN, G., STOCKS, R. & WALSH, D. (1996) Motivation and attribution
at secondary school: the role of gender, Educational Studies, 22, pp. 13–25.
LUXTON, R.G. & LAST, G. (1997) Under-achievement and Pedagogy: experimental reforms
in the teaching of mathematics using continental approaches in schools in the London
borough of Barking and Dagenham (Discussion Paper No. 112) (London, National
Institute of Economic and Social Research).
MARSH, H.W. (1989) Age and sex effects in multiple dimensions of self-concept:
preadolescence to early childhood, Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, pp.
MARSH, H.W. & CRAVEN, R.G. (1991) Self-other agreement on multiple dimensions of
preadolescent self-concept: inferences by teachers, mothers, and fathers, Journal of
Educational Psychology, 83, pp. 393–404.
MARSH, H.W. & YEUNG, A.S. (1997) Causal effects of academic self-concept on
academic achievement: structural equation models of longitudinal data, Journal of
Educational Psychology, 89, pp. 41–54.
MERRETT, F. & WHELDALL, K. (1987) British teachers and the behavioural approach to
teaching, in: K.WHELDALL (Ed.) The Behaviourist in the Classroom (London, Allen
and Unwin).
MIDGLEY, C. (1993) Motivation and middle level schools, in: P.R. PINTRICH & M.L.
MAEHR (Eds) Advances in motivation and achievement, Vol. 8: Motivation and
adolescent development (Greenwich, CT, JAI Press).
MILLER, P.J. & GOODNOW, J.J. (1995) Cultural practices: towards an integration of
culture and development, in: J.J. GOODNOW, P.J. MILLER & F. KESSEL (Eds)
Cultural Practices as Contexts for Development (San Francisco, Jossey-Bass).
MORRIS, P. (1998). Comparative education and educational reform: beware of
prophets returning from the Far East, Education 3–13, 26, pp. 5–9.
MUCKLE, J. (1988) A Guide to the Soviet Curriculum (London, Croom Helm).
MUCKLE, J. (1990) Portrait of a Soviet School under Glasnost (London, Macmillan).
MUIJS, R.D. (1997) Predictors of academic achievement and academic self-concept: a
longitudinal perspective, British Journal of Educational Psychology, 67, pp. 263–277.
Imperative for Educational Reform (Washington DC, NCEE).
NICHOLLS, J.G. (1978) The development of concepts of effort and ability, perception
of own attainment, and the understanding that difŽ cult tasks require more ability,
Child Development, 49, pp. 800–814.
NICHOLLS, J.G. (1984) Conceptions of ability and achievement motivation, in: R. AMES
& C. AMES (Eds) Research on Motivation in Education: student motivation (New
York, Academic Press).
NICHOLLS, J.G. (1989) The democratic ethos and competitive education (Cambridge, MA,
Harvard University Press).
NICHOLLS, J.G. (1990) What is ability and why are we mindful of it? A developmental
perspective, in: R.J. STEINBERG & J. KOLLIGAN, JR. (eds) Competence Considered
(New Haven, CT, Yale University Press).
OETTINGEN, G. (1995) Cross-cultural perspectives on self-efŽ cacy, in: A. BANDURA
(Ed.) Self-efŽ cacy in Changing Societies (New York, Cambridge University Press).
OFFICE FOR STANDARDS IN EDUCATION (1993) Access and Achievement in Urban Education
(London, HMSO).
O’REILLY, J. (1996) US teachers decry unruly British pupils, The Observer, p. 5 (6th
OSBORN, M. (1997) Children’s experience of schooling in England and France: some
lessons from a comparative study, Education Review, 11, pp. 46–52.
PHILLIPS, M. (1997) What makes schools effective? A comparison of the relationships
of communitarian climate and academic climate to mathematics achievement and
attendance during middle school, American Educational Research Journal, 34, pp.
POLIVANOVA, K. (1992) The modern situation in primary education in Russia, in: A.
TJELDVOLL (Ed.) Education in East/Central Europe: Report of the Oslo Seminar
(Buffalo, NY, Graduate School of Education).
POPOV, V. (1992) The subject and tasks of preventive pedagogy, Russian Education and
Society, 34, pp. 31–40.
REYNOLDS, D. (1999) Creating a new methodology for comparative educational research:
the contribution of the International School Effectiveness Research Project,
in: R.J. ALEXANDER, P. BROADFOOT & D. PHILLIPS (Eds) Learning from Comparing:
new directions in comparative education research, Vol. 1. (London, Symposium).
educational mountain: conducting the International School Effectiveness Research
Project, in: G. WALFORD (Ed.) Doing Research About Education (Lewes, Falmer
REYNOLDS, D. & FARRELL, S. (1996) Worlds Apart? A review of international surveys of
educational achievement involving England (London, HMSO).
SCHNEIDER, W., BORKOWSKI, J.G., KURTZ, B.E. & KERWIN, K. (1986) Metamemory
and motivation: a comparison of strategy use and performance in German and
American children, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 17, pp. 315–336.
SKINNER, E.A. & BELMONT,M.J. (1993) Motivation in the classroom: reciprocal effects
of teacher behaviour and student engagement across the school year, Journal of
Educational Psychology, 85, pp. 571–581.
STEINBERG, L. (1996) Beyond the Classroom: why school reform has failed and what parents
need to do (New York, Touchstone Books).
STETSENKO, A., LITTLE, T.D., OETTINGEN, G. & BALTES, P.B. (1995) Agency, control,
and means-ends beliefs about school performance in Moscow children: how
similar are they to beliefs of Western children? Developmental Psychology, 31, pp.
STEVENSON, H.W. (1998) Culture and schooling: in uences in cognitive development,
in: M. HETHERINGTON, R. LERNER & M. PERLMUTTER (Eds) Child Development in
Life-span Perspective (Hillsdale, NJ, Laurence Erlbaum Associates).
STEVENSON, H.W., CHEN, C. & UTTAL, D.H. (1990) Beliefs and achievement: A study
of Black, Anglo and Hispanic children, Child Development, 61, pp. 508–523.
STEVENSON, H.W. & LEE, S. (1990) A study of American, Chinese and Japanese
Children, Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, No. 221, 55
(whole issue).
STEVENSON, H.W. & STIGLER, J.W. (1992) The Learning Gap: why our schools are failing
and what we can learn from Japanese and Chinese education (New York, Summit
STEVENSON, H.W. & NERISON-LOW, R. (1998) To sum it up: case studies of education in
Germany, Japan, and the United States (Washington DC, National Institute on
Student Achievement, Curriculum, and Assessment OfŽ ce of Educational Research
and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education).
STIPEK, D., WEINER, B. & LI, K. (1989) Testing some attribution-emotion relations in
the People’s Republic of China, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, pp.
TANCIG, S., MAGAJNA, L., KAVKLER, M. & AUBREY, C. (1998) The Development of
Numeracy in England and Slovenia. Paper presented at the European Conference
on Educational Research, Slovenia.
TRIANDIS, H.C. (1972) The Analysis of Subjective Culture (New York, Wiley).
URDAN, T.C. & MAEHR, M.L. (1995) Beyond a two-goal theory of motivation and
achievement: a case for social goals, Review of Educational Research, 65, pp.
WEBBER, S.K. (1996) Demand and supply: meeting the need for teachers in the ‘new’
Russian school, Journal of Education for Teaching, 22, pp. 9–26.
WEBBER, S.K. (1997) All Change? School reform and society in Russia, 1991–1996.
Unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Exeter.
WENTZEL, K.R. (1991) Relations between social competence and academic achievement
in early adolescence, Child Development, 62, pp. 1066–1078.
WENTZEL, K.R. (1993) Does being good make the grade? Relations between academic
and social competence in early adolescence, Journal of Educational Psychology, 86,
pp. 173–182.
WENTZEL, K.R. (1996) Social goals and social relationships as motivators of school
adjustment, in: J. JUVONEN & K.R.WENTZEL (Eds) Social Motivation: understanding
children’s school adjustment (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press).
WENTZEL, K.R. (1999) Social-motivational processes and interpersonal relationships:
implications for understanding motivation at school, Journal of Educational Psychology,
91, pp. 76–97.
WILLIAMS, C. (1997) Convergence or divergence? A comparative analysis of youth in Russia and Britain, Education in Russia, the Independent States and Eastern Europe,
15, pp. 12–20.
WILLIS, P. (1977) Learning to Labour (London, Saxon House).
WOODHEAD, C. (1996) Interview in BBC Panorama ‘Hard Lessons’ 3rd June.
WORLD BANK (1995) Russia: Education in the transition (Washington DC, World Bank).
WRAGA, W.G. (1999) The progressive vision of general education and the American
common school ideal: implications for curriculum policy, practice, and theory,
Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31, pp. 523–544.