Motivation and Learning

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Motivation is important in getting students to engage in academic activities. It is also important in determining how much students will learn from the activities they perform or the information to which they will be exposed to. Students who are motivated to learn something use higher cognitive processes in learning about it. Motivation to do something can come about in many ways. It can be a personality characteristic or a stable long-lasting interest in something.

There are several theories of motivation that exist. Some state that motivation is tied to the idea that behaviours that have been rewarded in the past will be more likely to be repeated in the future. Therefore past experiences will motivate a student to perform in future ones.

Other theories prefer to think of motivation as a way to satisfy certain needs. Some basic needs people must satisfy are food, shelter, love and positive self-esteem.


Therefore, motivation to do something may be based on the achievement of these needs. Yet another theory the attribution theory seeks to understand peoples explanations and excuses when it comes to their successes and failures. When people feel that they have control over their success in something, then they are more motivated to achieve in it. If they feel that they will not have any control in their success they might not be as motivated to achieve. The expectancy theory of motivation is based on the belief that peoples efforts to achieve depends on their expectations of rewards.

Effort over ability

The students who developed separate advertisements explored the possibilities more thoroughly and had more ideas to choose from. Learners may not engage in a task or persist with learning long enough to achieve their goals unless they value the learning activities and goals. Expectancy-value theories have drawn attention to how learners choose goals depending on their beliefs about both their ability to accomplish a task and the value of that task. Research with learners of various ages supports the idea that those who expect to succeed at a task exert more effort and have higher levels of performance Eccles and Wigfield, However, some studies have suggested that task valuation seems to be the strongest predictor of behaviors associated with motivation, such as choosing topics and making decisions about participation in training Linnenbrink-Garcia et al.

Such research illustrates one of the keys to expectancy-value theory: the idea that expectancy and value dimensions work together. As learners experience success at a task or in a domain of learning, such as reading or math, the value they attribute to those activities can increase over time Eccles and Wigfield, Interest is also important in adult learning in part because students and trainees with little interest in a topic may show higher rates of absenteeism and lower levels of performance Ackerman et al.

Two forms of learner interest have been identified. Individual or personal interest is viewed as a relatively stable attribute of the individual. In contrast, situational interest refers to a psychological state that arises spontaneously in response to specific features of the task or learning environment Hidi and Renninger, Situational interest is malleable, can affect student engagement and learning, and is influenced by the tasks and materials educators use or encourage Hunsu et al.

Practices that engage students and influence their attitudes may increase their personal interest and intrinsic motivation over time Guthrie et al. Sometimes the spark of motivation begins with a meaningful alignment of student interest with an assignment or other learning opportunity. At other times, features of the learning environment energize a state of wanting to know more, which activates motivational processes.

In both cases, it is a change in mindset and goal construction brought about by interest that explains improved learning outcomes Barron, ; Bricker and Bell, ; Goldman and Booker, For instance, when learner interest is low, students may be less engaged and more likely to attend to the learning goals that require minimal attention and effort. Many studies of how interest affects learning have included measures of reading comprehension and text recall.

This approach has allowed researchers to assess the separate effects of topic interest and interest in a specific text on how readers interact with text, by measuring the amount of time learners spend reading and what they learn from it. This line of research has also suggested particular characteristics of texts that are associated with learner interest.

The texts that students viewed as less interesting interfered with comprehension in that they, for example, offered incomplete or shallow explanations, contained difficult vocabulary, or lacked coherence. These studies suggest the power of situational interest for engaging students in learning, which has implications for the design of project-based or problem-based learning.

For example, Hoffman and Haussler found that high school girls displayed significantly more interest in the physics related to the working of a pump when the mechanism was put into a real-world context: the use of a pump in heart surgery. The perception of having a choice may also influence situational interest and engagement, as suggested by a study that examined the effects of classroom practices on adolescents enrolled in a summer school science course.

Linnenbrink-Garcia et al. The positive effect learners experience as part of interest also appears to play a role in their persistence and ultimately their performance see, e. Intrinsic motivation is the experience of wanting to engage in an activity for its own sake because the activity is interesting and enjoyable or helps to achieve goals one has chosen. From the perspective of self-determination theory Deci and Ryan, , ; Ryan and Deci, , learners are intrinsically motivated to learn when they perceive that they have a high degree of autonomy and engage in an activity willingly, rather than because they are being externally controlled.

Learners who are intrinsically motivated also perceive that the challenges of a problem or task are within their abilities. The effect of external rewards on intrinsic motivation is a topic of much debate. External rewards can be an important tool for motivating learning behaviors, but some argue that such rewards are harmful to intrinsic motivation in ways that affect persistence and achievement. For example, some research suggests that intrinsic motivation to persist at a task may decrease if a learner receives extrinsic rewards contingent on performance.

The idea that extrinsic rewards harm intrinsic motivation has been supported in a meta-analysis of experiments Deci et al. Other research points to potential benefits. A recent field study, for example, suggests that incentives do not always lead to reduced engagement after the incentive ends Goswami and Urminsky, Thus, teaching strategies that use rewards to capture and stimulate interest in a topic rather than to drive compliance , that provide the student with encouragement rather than reprimands , and that are perceived to guide student progress rather than just monitor student progress can foster feelings of autonomy, competence, and academic achievement e.

Praise is important, but what is praised makes a difference see Box Other work Cameron et al. This may be the case, for example, with videogames in which individuals are highly motivated to play well in order to move to the next higher level. This may also be the case when learners feel valued and respected for their demonstrations of expertise, as when a teacher asks a student who correctly completed a challenging homework math problem to explain his solution to the class.

Extrinsic rewards support engagement sufficient for learning, as shown in one study in which rewards were associated with enhanced memory consolidation but only when students perceived the material to be boring Murayama and Kuhbandner, Given the prevalence. When learners believe they have control over their learning environment, they are more likely to take on challenges and persist with difficult tasks, compared with those who perceive that they have little control National Research Council, c.

Evidence suggests that the opportunity to make meaningful choices during instruction, even if they are small, can support autonomy, motivation, and ultimately, learning and achievement Moller et al. Choice may be particularly effective for individuals with high initial interest in the domain, and it may also generate increased interest Patall, To reduce this feeling, individuals tend to change their preferences to especially value and become interested in the thing they chose Izuma et al.

The perception of choice also may affect learning by fostering situational interest and engagement Linnenbrink-Garcia et al. Learners may not always be conscious of their goals or of the motivation processes that relate to their goals.

Motivation in Learning

A majority Similarly, activities that learners perceive as threatening to their sense of competence or self-esteem e. HPL I made the point that having clear and specific goals that are challenging but manageable has a positive effect on performance, and researchers have proposed explanations. Some have focused on goals as motives or reasons to learn Ames and Ames, ; Dweck and Elliott, ; Locke et al. The next section examines types of goals and research on their influence. Researchers distinguish between two main types of goals: mastery goals , in which learners focus on increasing competence or understanding, and performance goals , in which learners are driven by a desire to appear competent or outperform others see Table They further distinguish between performance-approach and performance-avoidance goals Senko et al.

Learners who embrace performance-avoidance goals work to avoid looking incompetent or being embarrassed or judged as a failure, whereas those who adopt performance-approach goals seek to appear more competent than others and to be judged socially in a favorable light. Learners may simultaneously pursue multiple goals Harackiewicz et al. Learning environments differ in the learning expectations, rules, and. Learners who believe intelligence is malleable, she suggested, are predisposed toward adopting mastery goals, whereas learners who believe intelligence is fixed tend to orient toward displaying competence and adopting performance goals Burns and Isbell, ; Dweck, ; Dweck and Master, ; Mangels et al.

Research in this area suggests that learners who strongly endorse mastery goals tend to enjoy novel and challenging tasks Pintrich, ; Shim et al. Mastery students are also persistent—even in the face of failure—and frequently use failure as an opportunity to seek feedback and improve subsequent performance Dweck and Leggett, Specifically, learners with mastery goals tend to focus on relating new information to existing knowledge as they learn, which supports deep learning and long-term memory for the.

By contrast, learners with performance goals tend to focus on learning individual bits of information separately, which improves speed of learning and immediate recall but may undermine conceptual learning and long-term recall. In this way, performance goals tend to support better immediate retrieval of information, while mastery goals tend to support better long-term retention Crouzevialle and Butera, Performance goals may in fact undermine conceptual learning and long-term recall.

When learners with mastery goals work to recall a previously learned piece of information, they also activate and strengthen memory for the other, related information they learned. When learners with performance goals try to recall what they learned, they do not get the benefit of this retrieval-induced strengthening of their memory for other information Ikeda et al. Two studies with undergraduate students illustrate this point. Study participants who adopted performance goals were found to be concerned with communicating competence, prioritizing areas of high ability, and avoiding challenging tasks or areas in which they perceived themselves to be weaker than others Darnon et al.

Motivational strategies

These students perceived failure as a reflection of their inability and typically responded to failure with frustration, shame, and anxiety. These kinds of performance-avoidance goals have been associated with maladaptive learning behaviors including task avoidance Middleton and Midgley, ; sixth-grade students , reduced effort Elliot, , and self-handicapping Covington, ; Midgley et al. The adoption of a mastery goal orientation to learning is likely to be beneficial for learning, while pursuit of performance goals is associated with poor learning-related outcomes.

However, research regarding the impact of performance goals on academic outcomes has yielded mixed findings Elliot and McGregor, ; Midgley et al. Some researchers have found positive outcomes when learners have endorsed normative goals a type of performance goal Covington, ; Linnenbrink, Others have found that achievement goals do not have a direct effect on academic achievement but operate instead through the intermediary learning behaviors described above and through self-efficacy Hulleman et al.

When learners perceive mastery goals are valued in the classsroom, they are more likely. A mastery-oriented structure in the classroom is positively correlated with high academic competency and negatively related to disruptive behaviors. Hence, classroom goal structures are a particularly important target for intervention Friedel et al. Table summarizes a longstanding view of how the prevailing classroom goal structure—oriented toward either mastery goals or performance goals—affects the classroom climate for learning.

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However, more experimental research is needed to determine whether interventions designed to influence such mindsets benefit learners. However, it is not always easy to determine what goals an individual is trying to achieve because learners have multiple goals and their goals may shift in response to events and experiences. For example, children may adopt an academic goal as a means of pleasing parents or because they enjoy learning about a topic, or both. Teachers may participate in an online statistics course in order to satisfy job requirements for continuing education or because they view mastery of the topic as relevant to their identity as a teacher, or both.

At any given time, an individual holds multiple goals related to achievement, belongingness, identity, autonomy, and sense of competence that are deeply personal, cultural, and subjective. Which of these goals becomes salient in directing behavior at what times depends on the way the individual construes the situation. During adolescence, for example, social belongingness goals may take precedence over academic achievement goals: young people may experience greater motivation and improved learning in a group context that fosters relationships that serve and support achievement.

Over the life span, academic achievement goals also become linked to career goals, and these may need to be adapted over time. For example, an adolescent who aspires to become a physician but who continually fails her basic science courses may need to protect her sense of competence by either building new strategies for learning science or revising her occupational goals.

Motivating Students

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No notes for slide. Motivation in Learning 1. What is motivation and motivational theory? Why do we need motivated students? Motivated students will eventually become entrepreneurs or work for an employer. These motivated employees help organizations survive. Motivated employees are more productive Lindner, How do we motivate our students?

Research show that setting objectives is an effective way of helping students learn and recall information. It is important for students to set not only long term goals of the project, but the short term goals as well. Learning must be rewarding, learner much feel skill is useful, and get appropriate feedback and reinforcement without over patronizing.

Variability 2. Humor 3. Concreteness 4. Conflict 5. Inquiry 6. Participation ttention elevance 1. Experience 2.

Present worth 3. Future usefulness 4.

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