International Journal of Art & Design Education

Pre-adolescents’ perceptions of competence, motivation and engagement in art activities

Volume 25.2   2006



This paper presents the findings from a small scale qualitative study which focused on pupils’ perceptions of competence and motivation towards art experienced in school. These are considered as very important in shaping learning and teaching processes. In particular, the paper focuses on the role that perceptions of competence play on pupils’ quality of involvement and achievement in art. Participants were chosen based on age, gender and their stated perceptions of competence. Sixteen 11-12 year olds were interviewed in groups and individually. Pupils’ perceptions of competence are identified as a key factor in determining pupils’ initial engagement and level of engagement with art activities. Moreover they are thought to be important in shaping their learning preferences at an age when pupils’ uncertainty about their abilities in art making is getting stronger. The results are situated within the framework of achievement goal theory and have implications for teaching strategies and for ways of responding to pupils’ learning preferences.