Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Shumow, Lee

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Leadership, Educational Psychology and Foundations


Self-determination theory provides a theoretical framework for understanding the relations between students' perceptions of their relationship with their teacher and classroom experiences to student motivation by identifying factors that support students' needs to feel related, competent, and autonomous within the context of their classroom. Research confirms the developmental and motivational importance of each of these factors and has identified specific teacher behaviors and classroom practices that support and/or undermine students' experiencing of these needs, yet relatively little research examines these relationships during children's early school experiences. The purpose of this study was to develop and validate a new instrument, Primary Students' Perceptions of Their Classroom Experiences (PSPCE), to assess first- and second-grade students' perceptions of teacher involvement and support for students' reading competence and autonomy and then to examine the relationships among these variables and students' reading motivation. Observational data and interviews with 108 first- and second-grade students indicate first- and second-grade students' perceptions of their classroom experiences can be validly assessed. Teacher Interest in Students and Teacher Support for Students' Reading Competence emerged as two factors worth considering as predictors of students' reading motivation. Students' perceptions of their teacher's interest in them predicted their perceptions of their reading competence controlling for reading achievement; however, neither students' perceptions of teacher interest in them nor their perceptions of teacher support for their reading competence predicted students' reading enjoyment. The PSPCE shows promise for providing educators and researchers with an instrument for assessing first- and second-grade students' perceptions of their classroom experiences. When supported with student interviews and classroom observations, the instrument has the potential for assessing the general classroom climate and identifying students at risk for developing negative perceptions of their reading competence. Research in more diverse classrooms is needed to strengthen the validity of the findings and generalizability to other populations and contexts. Further studies may also identify personal and contextual variables affecting students' perceptions of their classroom experiences, the stability of students' perceptions over time, and the relative influence of students' perceptions of their experiences on other outcomes.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [169]-183).


viii, 206 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type