Intrinsic motivation and academic performance in school-age children born extremely preterm: The contribution of working memory

L. Pascoe, M. Spencer-Smith, R. Giallo, M. L. Seal, N. Georgiou-Karistianis, C. Nosarti, E. K. Josev, G. Roberts, L. W. Doyle, D. K. Thompson, P. J. Anderson

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Intrinsic motivation is associated with better academic performance. Working memory abilities may contribute to this association, especially in children at risk for learning and academic difficulties such as those born extremely preterm. This study examined whether verbal and visuo-spatial working memory abilities mediate the relationship between intrinsic motivation for school learning (mastery, challenge and curiosity) and academic performance (word reading, spelling and mathematics) in 7-year old extremely preterm or extremely low birth weight children (n = 91). Structural equation modeling revealed verbal short-term memory to mediate associations between aspects of intrinsic motivation and literacy performance. Positive associations between mastery and verbal short-term memory, reading and spelling, and a positive association between challenge and mathematics performance were also identified. These findings highlight potential pathways linking intrinsic motivation for school learning, working memory, and academic achievement in early school-age children at risk of academic impairments. Examination of individual characteristics such as motivation and cognitive skills is important for understanding factors that shape children's learning and performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-32
Number of pages11
JournalLearning and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Academic performance
  • Intrinsic motivation
  • Preterm children
  • Working memory

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