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"Is There a Problem or Is He Just Bone Lazy?": A Study of Children with Low Academic Motivation

By Linda Gilmore and Gillian Boulton-Lewis


Children who are poorly motivated at school are at risk of academic underachievement and a range of other adverse social, economic and health outcomes. Attributions of laziness, reflected in comments about children needing to "try harder" and "make more effort" may mask specific cognitive and learning characteristics that explain low motivation in many children. This paper reports preliminary findings from an ongoing study of "lazy" children in the early years of primary school. In order to investigate possible explanations for low academic motivation such as learning difficulties, anxiety disorders, intellectual impairment, attentional problems and giftedness, children were assessed using appropriate psycho-educational instruments, tasks and questionnaires. The discussion focuses on developing a deeper understanding of academic motivation in the early school years through illustrative profiles of poorly motivated children

Topics: 130309 Learning Sciences, academic motivation, underachievement, lazy children
Publisher: Australian Psychological Society
Year: 2005
OAI identifier:

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