Domain-specificity of motivation: A longitudinal study in upper primary school

T.E. Hornstra, Ineke van der Veen, Thea Peetsma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The purpose of this study was to examine the domain-specificity of motivation in upper primary school. A sample of 722 students reported on their achievement goals, self-efficacy, and effort in language and mathematics twice a year during grade five and six. Results of confirmatory factor analyses and latent growth curve modeling showed that motivational constructs in language and mathematics were domain-specific in nature and developments in domain-specific motivational constructs mostly predicted achievement growth in corresponding subject domains. Yet, compared to previous studies in secondary or higher education, the degree of domain-specificity in upper primary school was found to be limited. High cross-domain correlations indicated a high degree of generality and similar longitudinal developments co-occurred across both domains. Especially achievement goals were highly domain-general. The results suggest that the degree of domain-specificity depends on the nature of motivational constructs and students´ age. Implications of these findings for practice and research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-178
Number of pages12
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Motivation
  • Domain-specificity
  • Achievement goals
  • Self-efficacy
  • Effort


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