Theories of Motivation



Motivation: Some General Theories and Classroom Strategies and Practices

Greetings. The following materials are intended to provide an introduction to motivation: some general theories and classroom strategies and practices. They were assembled from the World Wide Web, ERIC Database, and a variety of other bibliographic resources. Instructions for acquiring the full text of the ERIC records are presented at the end of this file.

Connie Kuo
Reference Specialist

Alphabetically arranged listing of bibliographies
Categorically arranged listing of bibliographies

Internet Sites

Motivation in the Classroom
Personality and Differential Motivation in the Classroom
Capturing Children's Natural Intrinsic Motivation in the Classroom
Motivation Theory in the Classroom
Failure of Extrinsic Motivation
Some Ideas for Motivating Students
When Students Do Not Feel Motivated for Literacy Learning
ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management

Citations From the ERIC Database

AN: ED455962
AU: Moriarity,-Janice; Pavelonis,-Kim; Pellouchoud,-Deborah; Wilson,-Jeanne
TI: Increasing Student Motivation through the Use of Instructional Strategies.
PY: 2001
NT: Master of Arts Action Research Project, Saint Xavier University and SkyLight Field-Based Masters Program.
PR: EDRS Price MF01/PC03 Plus Postage.
DEM: *Change-Strategies; *Intervention-; *Student-Improvement; *Student-Motivation; *Teaching-Methods
DER: Action-Research; Cooperative-Learning; Elementary-Education; Grade-2; Grade-4; Interdisciplinary-Approach; Parent-Attitudes; Program-Evaluation; Student-Attitudes; Student-Educational-Objectives; Student-Participation
AB: This action research project sought to increase motivation in second- and fourth-grade students in an urban Midwestern school. Achievement and skill measures as well as observations indicated a lack of student participation and interest. Three areas of intervention were implemented: cross-curricular activities to heighten student interest, cooperative learning strategies to promote participation and interaction, and teacher-designed activities that focused on goal-setting and personal reflection. Follow-up data indicated that active student participation increased, parent and student attitudes toward school and learning became more positive, and students experienced academic success by meeting personal goals and increasing their core of known words for reading and writing. (Eleven appendices include surveys, checklists, goal-setting and progress sheets, instructional sheets, and a parent letter. Contains 30 references.) (EV)

AN: ED455961
AU: Carroll,-Lynda; Leander,-Susan
TI: Improving Student Motivation through the Use of Active Learning Strategies.
PY: 2001
NT: Master of Arts Action Research Project, Saint Xavier University and SkyLight Field-Based Masters Program.
PR: EDRS Price MF01/PC03 Plus Postage.
DEM: *Active-Learning; *Change-Strategies; *Cooperative-Learning; *Learning-Strategies; *Student-Improvement; *Student-Motivation
DER: Academic-Achievement; Action-Research; Grade-5; Intermediate-Grades; Intervention-; Program-Evaluation; Questioning-Techniques; Social-Studies; Student-Attitudes; Thinking-Skills
AB: This action research project sought to increase motivation in fifth-grade social studies students. Observations and measures of student attitudes and achievement indicated a lack of student interest in learning activities. Two categories of intervention were implemented: (1) instruction in the use of learning strategies, including graphic organizers and questioning techniques, to improve higher order thinking skills and to increase students' ability to organize and comprehend information; and (2) use of cooperative learning to increase student motivation and enhance social skills. Post-intervention data indicated an increase in student motivation. Students showed improvement in attitudes and academic performance, felt more confident in their learning of social studies, and sufficiently used the learning strategies implemented in the project. (Six appendices include survey and observation forms and classroom materials. Contains 17 references.) (EV)

AN: ED455464
AU: Goldberg,-Kim; Foster,-Karen; Maki,-Brett; Emde,-John; O'Kelly,-Mark
TI: Improving Student Motivation through Cooperative Learning and Other Strategies.
PY: 2001
NT: Master of Arts Action Research Project, Saint Xavier University and Skylight Professional Development Field-Based Masters Program.
PR: EDRS Price MF01/PC03 Plus Postage.
DEM: *Academic-Achievement; *Cooperative-Learning; *Student-Motivation; *Teacher-Student-Relationship
DER: High-School-Students; High-Schools; Middle-School-Students; Middle-Schools; Student-Attitudes; Teacher-Influence
AB: This paper describes cooperative learning strategies to increase high school and middle school students' motivation for doing well in school. The targeted population consisted of middle school students in a physical education and science classes, and high school students in science, technology, and special education classes. Both schools are located in a middle-class, suburban community in Illinois. Analysis of probable cause data indicated that many students did not participate in class regularly but rather came to school to socialize. Research reports that students with poor motivation are often bored in school and have poor relations with their teachers. Cooperative learning was chosen as the best strategy for intervention following a review of research on strategies to improve student motivation. The results of the actions taken showed a slight increase in targeted behaviors in students. It was noted that students became less dependent on teacher assistance and more cooperative with each other. Evaluation instruments are appended. (Contains 35 references.) (JDM)

AN: ED454715
AU: Dornyei,-Zoltan
TI: Teaching and Researching Motivation. Applied Linguistics in Action.
PY: 2001
AV: Pearson Education Limited, Edinburgh Gate, Harlow, Essex, CM20 2JE, England. Web site:
PR: Document Not Available from EDRS.
DEM: *Learning-Motivation; *Student-Motivation; *Teacher-Motivation
DER: Applied-Linguistics; Diagrams-; English-Second-Language; Language-Research; Literature-Reviews; Qualitative-Research; Questionnaires-; Research-Methodology; Second-Language-Instruction; Second-Language-Learning; Teacher-Researchers
AB: This book includes: a theoretical summary of the various facets of motivation, an examination of how the theoretical insights can help classroom practitioners in their everyday teaching practice and practical recommendations on how motivation can be researched and assessed. The following chapters are included: "Main Challenges of Motivation Research"; "Theories of Motivation in Psychology"; "Motivation To Learn a Foreign/Second Language"; "'Education-Friendly' Approaches in Motivation Research"; "Motivation and Motivating in the Foreign Language Classroom"; "Student Demotivation"; "Teacher Motivation"; "Making Motivation a Researchable Concept"; "Methodological Issues and Considerations"; "Main Types of L2 Motivation Research"; "The Locus of Motivation Research: Linkages to Other Topics and Disciplines." References and subject and author indexes are also included. (Contains 356 references.) (KFT)

AN: ED452072
AU: Mac-Iver,-Douglas-J.; Young,-Estelle-M.; Washburn,-Benjamin
TI: Instructional Practices and Motivation during Middle School (with Special Attention to Science).
PY: 2001
NT: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (82nd, Seattle, WA, April 10-14, 2001).
PR: EDRS Price MF01/PC02 Plus Postage.
DEM: *Academic-Achievement; *Educational-Change; *Hands-on-Science; *Science-Instruction
DER: Ability-Grouping; Middle-Schools; Motivation-; Science-Curriculum; Scientific-Literacy
: Improvement of academic achievement requires both changes in school organizational structures and in curriculum and instruction. This study investigates the assumption of giving "minds-on" opportunities to reflect and "hands-on" opportunities to experiment and tests whether moving beyond the textbook makes science class more engaging for middle school students. (Contains 67 references.) (YDS)

AN: EJ633354
AU: Daniels,-Denise-H.; Kalkman,-Deborah-L.; McCombs,-Barbara-L.
TI: Young Children's Perspectives on Learning and Teacher Practices in Different Classroom Contexts: Implications for Motivation.
PY: 2001
SO: Early-Education-and-Development; v12 n2 p253-73 Apr 2001.
DEM: *Elementary-School-Students; *Elementary-School-Teachers; *Preschool-Teachers; *Student-Attitudes; *Student-Motivation
DER: Context-Effect; Developmentally-Appropriate-Practices; Primary-Education; School-Attitudes
AB: Investigated primary students' perceptions of teacher practices and learning in learner-centered (LC) and non-learner-centered (NLC) classroom contexts. Found that primary students valued similar characteristics in teachers regardless of classroom context or grade level. Children's interest in schoolwork and learning was lower in NLC classrooms than in LC classrooms, especially for students who perceived their teachers as nonsupportive and nonstimulating. (Author/KB)

AN: ED455524
AU: Cook,-Pamela-J.; Green,-Roxanne-M.; Meyer,-Tammy-S.; Saey,-Laura-A.
TI: Increasing Motivation To Write by Enhancing Self-Perception, Utilizing Collaboration, Modeling and Relevance.
PY: 2001
NT: Master of Arts Action Research Project, Saint Xavier University and SkyLight Professional Development.
PR: EDRS Price MF01/PC05 Plus Postage.
DEM: *Instructional-Effectiveness; *Student-Motivation; *Writing-Attitudes; *Writing-Improvement; *Writing-Instruction
DER: Action-Research; High-Schools; Learning-Disabilities; Primary-Education; Self-Concept; Student-Attitudes; Writing-Skills
AB: This report describes a program for increasing motivation in writing that will enhance students' skills at a variety of grade levels. The targeted population consisted of first, second, and third grade classes as well as ninth through twelfth grade Learning Disabled students in a Midwestern state. The evidence of lack of motivation was documented by parent surveys, student surveys, teacher surveys and observations. Probable cause data showed students are unmotivated to write due to low self confidence, lack of control over writing tasks, inadequate amount of time to expand on writing pieces, lack of emphasis on organizers, limited peer collaboration, and insufficient relevance to real life. Faculty reported lack of student motivation in writing tasks which hinder writing achievement. State data showed a decline in writing scores at the targeted sites. A review of solution strategies resulted in an action plan that included activities which incorporated student choices, relevance, moderately challenging tasks and collaboration with peers. Teacher instruction was guided by these points and included modeling, adequate time for completion of writing activities, use of graphic organizers, relevant writing tasks, pen pal correspondences and writing throughout the curriculum. The research concluded with a final survey to students and parents which showed an overall average increase in students' attitudes towards writing and an increase in students' organizational skills in writing tasks. Although the goal was to increase motivation, and the researchers feel this did occur, it is difficult to measure using data. For this reason, no substantial conclusions can be derived regarding the exact amount of motivational impact on each student. The paper contains 44 references and 10 figures of data. Appendixes contain parent, teacher, and student survey instruments; a pen pal activity reflection; and permission letters. (Author/RS)

AN: ED443559
AU: Janes,-Leslie-M.; Koutsopanagos,-Caryn-Lee; Mason,-Diane-S.; Villaranda,-Iris
TI: Improving Student Motivation through the Use of Engaged Learning, Cooperative Learning and Multiple Intelligences.
PY: 2000
NT: Master's Action Research Project, Saint Xavier University and SkyLight Field-Based Master's Program.
PR: EDRS Price MF01/PC04 Plus Postage.
DE: *Academic-Achievement; *Cooperative-Learning; *Elementary-School-Students; *Student-Motivation
DE: Action-Research; Elementary-Education; Multiple-Intelligences; Program-Evaluation; Reading-Achievement
AB: Noting that poor student motivation and problematic social skills may interfere with the academic growth of elementary school students, this action research project examined the impact of a multifaceted intervention on student motivation and achievement. Participating in the study were second and third graders from 3 schools. The 12-week intervention was comprised of 3 elements: (1) use of the theory of multiple intelligences in instruction; (2) the incorporation of cooperative learning; and (3) the provision of an engaged learning environment. Students worked in teacher-selected base groups weekly for 15 minutes for data collection and reflection and in randomly-assigned cooperative learning groups at least twice weekly for 30 to 45 minutes. Cooperative learning activities taught appropriate social skills. Multiple intelligence activities and a series of engaged learning activities were incorporated into classroom practices. Data were collected through student surveys and journals completed weekly, teacher observation checklists, attendance records, and unit reading test scores. The findings of the post-intervention data illustrated that implementing the theory of multiple intelligences had a positive effect on the targeted classrooms. There were decreases in missed reading assignments for two sites, and an increase for one site. Students revealed positive attitudes toward themselves and their school. Students' reading scores increased moderately from first to second quarter. Participating teachers concluded that cooperative learning and engaged learning were used together to successfully increase student motivation and achievement. (Eleven appendices include data collection instruments and sample lesson plans. Contains 23 references.) (KB)

AN: ED443550
AU: DeKeyrel,-Angela; Dernovish,-Julie; Epperly,-Annette; McKay,-Victoria
TI: Using Motivational Strategies To Improve Academic Achievement of Middle School Students.
PY: 2000
NT: Master's Action Research Project, Saint Xavier University and SkyLight Field-Based Masters Program.
PR: EDRS Price MF01/PC03 Plus Postage.
DE: *Academic-Achievement; *Change-Strategies; *Learning-Motivation; *Middle-School-Students; *Student-Improvement; *Student-Motivation
DE: Action-Research; Classroom-Research; Cooperative-Learning; Intervention-; Middle-Schools; Multiple-Intelligences; Student-Participation
AB: This action research project sought to improve student motivation in order to increase academic performance among eighth graders in an urban community. Evidence of academic underachievement and lack of student participation was documented by means of teacher observations, incomplete and missing assignments, and student questionnaires. Student, parent, and teacher surveys were administered at the beginning of the 1999-2000 school year, and a modified version of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire was also administered to measure students' motivation. Four major interventions were implemented: the requirement of an assignment notebook, increased parental awareness through academic progress reports, implementation of motivationally oriented content, and development of students' organizational and study skills. In addition, a variety of cooperative learning and social skill activities were incorporated. Post-intervention data indicated an overall improvement in many areas, including completion of homework, feelings about instructors, interest in class content, and academic achievement. The incorporation of cooperative learning and multiple intelligence lessons was found to strengthen student motivational levels and academic achievement. (Eight appendices include survey forms and a sample student progress report. Contains 25 references.) (EV)

AN: EJ607926
AU: Hemenway,-Merritt-V.
TI: What Effect Does Classroom Use of the Internet Have on the Teacher-Student Relationship?
PY: 2000
SO: NASSP-Bulletin; v84 n615 p114-19 Apr 2000
DE: *Influences-; *Internet-; *Teacher-Response; *Teacher-Role; *Teacher-Student-Relationship
DE: Computer-Uses-in-Education; Discovery-Learning; Discussion-Teaching-Technique; High-Schools; Interviews-; Student-Motivation; Technical-Writing
AB: A random survey (with 25 followup interviews) asked 150 California high-school teachers to describe differences in their classrooms since students began using the Internet. Students are excited about using computers and actively engaged in finding and discussing information and writing reports. Teachers serve as motivators and learning guides. (MLH)

AN: ED442751
AU: Burden,-Paul-R.
TI: Powerful Classroom Management Strategies: Motivating Students to Learn.
PY: 2000
AV: Corwin Press, Inc., A Sage Publications Company, 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320-2218 ($21.95). Tel: 805-499-9774; e-mail:; Web site:
PR: EDRS Price MF01 Plus Postage. PC Not Available from EDRS.
DE: *Classroom-Techniques; *Student-Behavior; *Student-Motivation
DE: Academic-Achievement; Elementary-Secondary-Education; Student-Participation; Students-
AB: This book describes how to use effective motivation in the classroom in order to increase student learning and decrease classroom management problems for K-12 classrooms. This book bridges the gap between theory and practice with useful applications of motivation theory. It enables teachers to determine the type of motivation their students need and provides tools to respond to their needs. Highlights include specific strategies for motivating students (including hard-to-reach students), case studies and vignettes, suggested activities for another day, reflective chapter-end questions, and Web sites for additional resources. The seven chapters are: (1) "The Complex Nature of Motivation"; (2) "Motivating Students to Learn"; (3) "A Framework for Motivating Students"; (4) "Motivational Strategies Concerning Instruction"; (5) "Motivational Strategies Concerning Evaluation and Recognition"; (6) "Academic and Behavioral Expectations"; and (7) "Motivating Hard-to-Reach Students." (Contains 96 references.) (SM)

AN: EJ604774
AU: Prince,-Tamara-G.
TI: Using a "Living Lab" to Engage Students in the Foreign Language Classroom.
PY: 2000
SO: Clearing-House; v73 n5 p263-65 May-Jun 2000
DE: *Instructional-Innovation; *Second-Language-Instruction; *Student-Motivation; *Theater-Arts
DE: Playwriting-; Secondary-Education
: Describes how a group of foreign language teachers created and used a theatre set (called the "living lab") with changeable painted backdrops. Describes a number of ways to use the living lab in the language class; describes how one class wrote and produced an original 10-page drama in French; and describes the process of creating the living lab. (SR)

AN: EJ603123
AU: Hebb,-Judith-L.; Axiotis,-Vivian
TI: Toward a Learning Community of Teachers and Students.
PY: 2000
SO: English-Journal; v89 n4 p22-25 Mar 2000
NT: Theme: Reading and Writing Together.
DE: *High-School-Students; *Literature-Appreciation; *Reading-Attitudes; *Reading-Instruction; *Reading-Motivation; *Student-Attitudes
DE: Class-Activities; High-Schools; Reading-Aloud-to-Others; Reading-Improvement; Reading-Processes
AB: Offers practical suggestions for encouraging reluctant (and all) high school readers and writers. Advocates looking at student reluctance and motivation; understanding the process of reading; understanding that everyone learns differently; and that reading is a social act. Offers the response from a high school English teacher with a sampling with what she does to reach all readers in her classroom. (SR)

AN: ED443135
AU: Lumsden,-Linda
TI: Student Motivation: Cultivating a Love of Learning.
CS: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management, Eugene, OR.
PY: 1999
AV: ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management, 5207 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-5207; Tel: 541-346-5044; Fax: 541-346-2334; Web site:
NT: Foreword by Catherine Lewis.
PR: EDRS Price MF01/PC06 Plus Postage.
DE: *Classroom-Techniques; *Competition-; *Motivation-Techniques; *Teacher-Attitudes; *Teacher-Student-Relationship
DE: Curriculum-Development; Curriculum-Problems; Elementary-Secondary-Education; Learning-Strategies; Public-Schools; Self-Concept; Teacher-Expectations-of-Students
AB: Motivation is the ultimate product of many aspects of the school experience: significant relationships between teachers and students and among students; a meaningful, well-taught curriculum; teachers who maintain high expectations and look for ways to help each student connect to the curriculum; and opportunities for choice and self-evaluation that foster students' ownership of learning. This book posits that young children's natural motivation to learn will survive only in schools where the curriculum is worth learning; where students focus on learning (not on competition or grades); and where students feel valued, and, therefore, are disposed to care about the school's values, including learning. The job of schools is to help students develop a commitment to learning that sustains them even when a particular task seems too difficult or unappealing. They are most likely to develop this commitment in a school that meets their needs for belonging, contribution, and meaningful work. Research suggests that practitioners who shift away from systems of rewards and punishment and, instead, actively involve students in shaping classroom climate and learning promote both students' motivation to learn and their commitment to democratic values. (Contains 63 references.) (DFR)

AN: ED439782
AU: Belcher,-Gay; Macari,-Nancy
TI: Enhancing Student Motivation as Evidenced by Improved Academic Growth and Increased Work Completion.
PY: 1999
NT: Master's Action Research Project, Saint Xavier University and IRI/Skylight.
PR: EDRS Price MF01/PC05 Plus Postage.
DE: *Academic-Achievement; *Learning-Motivation; *Program-Effectiveness; *Student-Attitudes; *Student-Improvement; *Student-Motivation
DE: Action-Research; Change-Strategies; Grade-5; Homework-; Intermediate-Grades; Intervention-; Learning-Activities; Peer-Acceptance; Program-Descriptions; School-Attitudes; Self-Esteem; Student-Interests; Student-Needs; Teacher-Student-Relationship
AB: This project evaluated a program for enhancing student motivation as evidenced by improved academic growth and increased work completion. The targeted population consisted of fifth graders in a small school in a medium-sized rural community in the Midwest. The problem of lack of achievement motivation and lack of student concern about academic growth was documented by means of spring staffing for special needs students, report cards, anecdotal records from prior teachers, teacher surveys and observations, records of homework completion, student and parent surveys, and teachers' gradebooks. Analysis of probable cause data revealed that lack of motivation stemmed from students' perceptions of non-acceptance and poor self-esteem. Incomplete assignments, partially due to poor organization and time management skills, contributed to the problem, along with the possibility that assignments were not meaningful or enjoyable to students. A review of solution strategies resulted in the selection of two major types of interventions. One was the creation of a homework monitoring program using assignment sheets and program incentives. The other was the use of classroom activities to stimulate and motivate student participation and interest that were supported by cooperative learning and multiple intelligence activities. Post-intervention data indicated increased student achievement motivation, as evidenced by improved academic achievement and a reduction in incomplete assignments. Ten appendices include survey forms and journal pages. (Contains 58 references.) (Author/TJQ)

AN: EJ600969
AU: Taylor,-Linda; Adelman,-Howard-S.
TI: Personalizing Classroom Instruction To Account for Motivational and Developmental Differences.
PY: 1999
SO: Reading-and-Writing-Quarterly:-Overcoming-Learning-Difficulties; v15 n4 p255-76 Oct-Dec 1999
NT: Theme: Addressing Barriers to Student Learning--Systemic Changes at All Levels.
DE: *Classroom-Techniques; *Individualized-Instruction; *Remedial-Instruction; *Student-Motivation
DE: Elementary-Secondary-Education; Instructional-Improvement; Intervention-
: Outlines an orientation to teaching that stresses the necessity of matching both motivation and capabilities and encompasses both regular instruction and remediation. Emphasizes improving regular instruction by enhancing teachers' abilities to personalize instruction. Notes the emphasis at all times is on use of the least intervention needed and maintaining a focus on motivation as a primary consideration. (RS)

AN: ED434775
AU: Grenchik,-Denise; O'Connor,-Elaine; Postelli,-Gina
TI: Effective Motivation through Meeting Student Needs.
PY: 1999
NT: Master's Action Research Project, Saint Xavier University and IRI/Skylight.
PR: EDRS Price MF01/PC04 Plus Postage.
DE: *Classroom-Environment; *Cooperative-Learning; *High-School-Students; *Student-Motivation; *Student-Needs
DE: Action-Research; Adolescents-; Change-Strategies; Educational-Environment; high-Schools; Journal-Writing; Portfolio-Assessment; Program-Effectiveness; Student-Evaluation
AB: High school students' lack of personal responsibility and academic ownership, negative or indifferent attitude, and lack of initiative and general motivation are often of concern to teachers and parents. This action research project evaluated an intervention to increase high school students' motivation, responsibility, and initiative. Students were enrolled in a freshman English or Spanish class and one art class comprised of students from all grade levels in a parochial high school located near Chicago. The needs of parents, students, and faculty with regard to the educational process were identified by means of surveys; students' needs were identified as being distinct from those of the other two groups. The one-semester intervention used cooperative learning, authentic assessment, journal writing, and portfolio development to meet students' needs for belonging, power, freedom, and fun within the classroom environment. In order to assess the effects of the intervention, the initial survey determining student needs provided baseline data. Observational checklists were completed throughout the study to assess progress in student participation and motivation. Self-assessments and portfolios were also used to assess student responsibility for learning and motivation. The needs survey was re-administered to identify needs not met by the intervention. The findings indicated a positive correlation between the teacher's intervention to meet student needs and the level of student motivation. (Twenty-six appendices include data collection instruments and sample instructional materials. Contains 20 references.) (KB)

AN: EJ588119
AU: Panitz,-Theodore
TI: The Motivational Benefits of Cooperative Learning.
PY: 1999
SO: New-Directions-for-Teaching-and-Learning; n78 p59-67 Sum 1999
NT: Theme issue: "Motivation from Within: Approaches for Encouraging Faculty and Students To Excel."
DE: *Cooperative-Learning; *Learning-Motivation; *Learning-Processes; *Relevance-Education; *Student-Motivation; *Values-
DE: Classroom-Techniques; Higher-Education; Instructional-Effectiveness; Student-Attitudes
AB: Cooperative learning improves students' learning motivation in a diverse college student population by creating a favorable disposition toward the learning experience through personal relevance and choice; creating an understanding that learners are effective in learning something they value; and creating challenging, thoughtful learning experiences that include learners' values and perspectives and contribute to an equitable society. (MSE)

AN: EJ588117
AU: Keller,-John-M.
TI: Using the ARCS Motivational Process in Computer-Based Instruction and Distance Education.
PY: 1999
SO: New-Directions-for-Teaching-and-Learning; n78 p39-47 Sum 1999
NT: Theme issue: "Motivation from Within: Approaches for Encouraging Faculty and Students To Excel."
DE: *Attention-; *Computer-Assisted-Instruction; *Distance-Education; *Learning-Motivation; *Relevance-Education; *Self-Esteem
DE: Classroom-Techniques; Higher-Education; Models-; Participant-Satisfaction; Student-Attitudes; Student-Motivation; Teaching-Methods
AB: The ARCS (attention/relevance/confidence/satisfaction) model of motivational design provides a systematic seven-step approach to incorporating motivational tactics into instruction. Application of the ARCS model to computer-based instruction and distance education is examined, identifying specific design factors that address needs in each of the four ARCS areas. (MSE)

AN: EJ588114
AU: Wlodkowski,-Raymond-J.
TI: Motivation and Diversity: A Framework for Teaching.
PY: 1999
SO: New-Directions-for-Teaching-and-Learning; n78 p7-16 Sum 1999
NT: Theme issue: "Motivation from Within: Approaches for Encouraging Faculty and Students To Excel."
DE: *Classroom-Environment; *College-Instruction; *Cultural-Influences; *Diversity-Student; *Learning-Motivation; *Student-Motivation
DE: Cultural-Differences; Cultural-Pluralism; Higher-Education; Sociocultural-Patterns
AB: Discussion of learning motivation and the influence of culture on it reviews recent literature, explores differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, gives an overview of the motivational framework, and makes suggestions for planning lessons to elicit intrinsic motivation among culturally diverse students. The model's purpose is to respectfully evoke, support, and enhance learning motivation that all students possess. (Author/MSE)

AN: ED421281
AU: Anderman,-Lynley-Hicks; Midgley,-Carol
TI: Motivation and Middle School Students. ERIC Digest.
CS: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, Champaign, IL.
PY: 1998
PR: EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
DE: *Academic-Achievement; *Early-Adolescents; *Middle-Schools; *Student-Motivation
DE: Attribution-Theory; Classroom-Environment; Goal-Orientation; Intermediate-Grades; Junior-High-Schools; Motivation-Techniques; Personal-Autonomy; Self-Determination; Student-Attitudes; Teacher-Expectations-of-Students; Teacher-Student-Relationship; Teaching-Methods; Theories-
AB: Research has shown a decline in motivation and performance for many children as they move from elementary school into middle school; however, research has also shown that the nature of motivational change on entry to middle school depends on characteristics of the learning environment in which students find themselves. This Digest outlines some suggestions for middle school teachers and administrators for enhancing student motivation and discusses three theories that are currently prominent and that have particular relevance for young adolescent students and their teachers. Attribution theory emphasizes that students' perceptions of their educational experiences generally influence their motivation more than the objective reality of those experiences. Through instructional practices, teachers can unknowingly communicate a range of attitudes about whether ability is fixed or modifiable and convey their expectations for individual students. Goal theory focuses on the reasons students perceive for achieving: a task goal orientation represents the belief that the purpose of achieving is personal improvement and understanding; an ability goal orientation represents the belief that the purpose of achieving is the demonstration of ability. Studies find that the adoption of task goals is associated with more adaptive patterns of learning than is the adoption of ability goals. A third motivational theory of importance for middle school educators is self-determination theory. This theory describes students as having three categories of needs: needing a sense of competence, of relatedness to others, and of autonomy. Most of the research focuses on the last of these three needs. Within the classroom, autonomy needs could be addressed through allowing student choice and input on classroom decision making. It is important to recognize that supporting student autonomy does not require major upheaval in the classroom or that teachers relinquish the management of students' behavior. Even small opportunities for choice can increase students' sense of self-determination. Contains 13 references. (LPP)

AN: ED423824
AU: Bohlin,-Roy-M.
TI: The Affective Domain: A Model of Learner-Instruction Interactions.
PY: 1998
NT: In: Proceedings of Selected Research and Development Presentations at the National Convention of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Sponsored by the Research and Theory Division (20th, St. Louis, MO, February 18-22, 1998); see IR 019 040.
PR: EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
DE: *Affective-Behavior; *Cognitive-Processes; *Student-Attitudes; *Student-Motivation
DE: Classification-; Educational-Objectives; Epistemology-; Instructional-Design; Interaction-; Models-; Theory-Practice-Relationship
AB: This paper presents a model for those interested in the design and/or research of instruction in the affective domain. This model is an integration of current theories and models in the affective domain. It is a broad and comprehensive model which represents the hierarchical structures and interactions of affective and related cognitive factors, including attitudes, beliefs, values, anxiety, motivation, attributions, confidence, and interests. The first section of the paper provides a theoretical framework of research in the affective domain; three figures depict taxonomies of the affective domain. Constructs of interest to those who work in the affective domain are defined in the second section. The third section describes the Model of
Learner-Instruction Interactions in the Affective Domain; a diagram shows the interactive relationship of instructionally important factors (e.g., attributions, confidence, attitudes, motivation, and values). Applications and limitations of the model are discussed. Implications of this model and ways that researchers and designers can contribute to the model are also considered. Contains 12 references. (DLS)

AN: ED419460
AU: Brown,-Sally, ed.; Armstrong,-Steve, ed.; Thompson,-Gail, ed.
TI: Motivating Students. Staff and Educational Development Series.
CS: Staff and Educational Development Association, Birmingham (England).
PY: 1998
AV: Kogan Page, 120 Pentonville Road, London N1 9JN, England, United Kingdom (18.99 British pounds).
PR: Document Not Available from EDRS.
DE: *College-Students; *Student-Motivation; *Teaching-Methods
DE: Classroom-Techniques; Diversity-(Student); Foreign-Countries; Higher-Education; Student-Development; Student-Evaluation; Student-School-Relationship; Teacher-Student-Relationship; Undergraduate-Study
AB: Twenty papers on motivating college students are grouped into four sections: (1) the impact of teaching on student motivation; (2) motivating diverse students; (3) the impact of university practices on motivation; and (4) the impact of assessment on motivation. After an introductory selection by Sally Brown, Steve Armstrong, and Gail Thompson, the papers are: "Interactivity as an Extrinsic Motivating Force in Learning" (Philip Barker); "Motivation and Approaches to Learning: Motivating and Conceptions of Teaching" (Noel Entwistle); "Intervention and Motivation: What Affects What?" (Ian Solomonides); "Understanding Motives in Learning: Mature Students and Learner Responsibility" (Ron Iphofen); "Teaching: Creating a Thirst for Learning?" (Phil Race); "Perspectives on Motivation: The Implications for Effective Learning in Higher Education" (Della Fazey and John Fazey); "Students' Motivation in Higher Education Contexts" (Kim Isroff and Teresa del Soldato); "Age, Gender and Course Differences in Approaches to Studying in First-Year Undergraduate Students" (Rhona Magee et al.); "Learner Autonomy Beyond the Curriculum: Students' Mtivations and Institutional Community" (Gillian Winfield and Selena Bolingbroke); "Does Gender Affect Students' Aproaches to Learning?" (Kay Greasley); "Layers of Motivation: Individual Orientations and Contextual Influences" (Linda France and Liz Beaty); "The Effect of Stressors on Student Motivation: A Report of Work in Progress at Sunderland Business School" (Gail Thompson); "Undergraduate Research Projects: Motivation and Skills Development" (Martin Luck); "Multidisciplinary Student Teams Motivated by Industrial Experience" (Paul Wellington); "Motivational Perspectives and Work-Based Learning" (Debbie Keeling et al.); "Learning as an Aesthetic Practice: Motivation through Beauty in Higher Education" (Alan Bleakley); "Motivating Student Learning through Facilitating Independence: Self and Peer Assessment of Reflective Practice--An Action Research Project" (Julie Mortimer); "Individual Differences in Student Motivation" (Stephen Newstead); and "Motivation in Assessment" (Linda Leach et al.). (Individual chapters contain references.) (DB)

AN: EJ563880
AU: Rinne,-Carl-H.
TI: Motivating Students Is a Percentage Game.
PY: 1998
SO: Phi-Delta-Kappan; v79 n8 p620-24,26,28 Apr 1998
DE: *Classroom-Techniques; *Learning-Motivation; *Lesson-Plans; *Self-Motivation; *Student-Motivation
: Secondary-Education; Teacher-Role; Teaching-Methods
AB: About half of regular secondary students make no consistent effort to learn. Intrinsic appeals are applicable to any lesson in any subject at any level. These include novelty, anticipation, security, challenge, completion (of logically connected project segments), application of learned skills, feedback, identification (via possession, belonging, achievement, and projection), and competition. The goal is involvement, rather than enjoyment. (MLH)

Motivating Your Child To Learn
Writing is a skill we need both in school and in the workplace. In this book we focus on motivation, especially on specific steps you can take to motivate your child to learn. We answer practical questions from parents and describe activities you can use at home. Three stories are also included to read with your child or listen along with on audio tape.

Other Resources (available either for sale or via interlibrary loan)

Title: Best practice in motivation and management in the classroom.
Authors: Wiseman, Dennis.; Hunt, Gilbert.
Year: 2001
Publisher: Charles C. Thomas.

Title: Tools for teaching : discipline, instruction, motivation.
Authors: Jones, Fredric H.; Jones, Patrick.; Jones, Jo Lynne Talbott.
Year: 2000
Publisher: Jones & Associates.

Title: Helping kids achieve their best : understanding and using motivation in the classroom.
Author: McInerney, D. M.
Year: 2000
Publisher: Allen & Unwin.

Title: Engaging young readers : promoting achievement and motivation.
Authors: Baker, Linda.; Dreher, Mariam Jean.
Year: 2000
Publisher: Guilford Press.

Title: Healthy classroom management : motivation, communication, and discipline.
Author: Nakamura, Raymond M.
Year: 2000
Publisher: Wadsworth.

Title: Teaching tips : 105 ways to increase motivation & learning.
Author: Rogers, Spence.
Year: 1999
Publisher: Peak Learning Systems.

Title: The impact of motivation in your classroom.
Authors: Woolbright, Nona.; Williams, Robin.
Year: 1998
Publisher: University of Georgia.

Title: 150 Ways to Increase Intrinsic Motivation in the Classroom
Author: James P. Raffini, University of Wisconsin, Whitewater
Year: 1996
ISBN: 0-205-16567-2

To Order Full-Text Copies of ERIC Journal and ERIC Document Citations:

Citations with an ED (ERIC document) number in the AN (accession number) field are available in ERIC microfiche collections at over 1000 locations worldwide; to identify your local source, connect to the: ERIC Resource Collection

The documents can also be ordered through EDRS (ERIC Document Reproduction Service) for a fee: email, tel. (800)443-ERIC. Selected ERIC Documents are available through online ordering via the EDRS's web site

Citations with an EJ (ERIC journal) number in the AN (accession number) field are available through the originating journal, interlibrary loan services, or for a fee from the following article reproduction services: Ingenta: email:, tel. (800) 296 2221, online order form; or ISI Document Solution: email:, tel. (800) 336-4474, (215) 386-4399, online order form:

The Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication is an information repository of the Indiana University School of Education.


Dr. Carl B. Smith, Professor


















Motivation to Learn: An Overview

Citation: Huitt, W. (2001). Motivation to learn: An overview. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved [date], from

Return to: | EdPsyc Interactive: Courses | Home |


The following definitions of motivation were gleaned from a variety of psychology textbooks and reflect the general consensus that motivation is an internal state or condition (sometimes described as a need, desire, or want) that serves to activate or energize behavior and give it direction (see Kleinginna and Kleinginna, 1981a).

  • internal state or condition that activates behavior and gives it direction;
  • desire or want that energizes and directs goal-oriented behavior;
  • influence of needs and desires on the intensity and direction of behavior.

Franken (1994) provides an additional component in his definition:

  • the arousal, direction, and persistence of behavior.

While still not widespread in terms of introductory psychology textbooks, many researchers are now beginning to acknowledge that the factors that energize behavior are likely different from the factors that provide for its persistence.

Importance of motivation

Most motivation theorists assume that motivation is involved in the performance of all learned responses; that is, a learned behavior will not occur unless it is energized. The major question among psychologists, in general, is whether motivation is a primary or secondary influence on behavior. That is, are changes in behavior better explained by principles of environmental/ecological influences, perception, memory, cognitive development, emotion, explanatory style, or personality or are concepts unique to motivation more pertinent.

For example, we know that people respond to increasingly complex or novel events (or stimuli) in the environment up to a point and then responses decrease. This inverted-U-shaped curve of behavior is well-known and widely acknowledged (e.g., Yerkes & Dodson, 1908). However, the major issue is one of explaining this phenomenon. Is this a conditioning (is the individual behaving because of past classical or operant conditioning), a motivational process (from an internal state of arousal), or is there some better explanation?

The relationship of motivation and emotion

Emotion (an indefinite subjective sensation experienced as a state of arousal) is different from motivation in that there is not necessarily a goal orientation affiliated with it. Emotions occur as a result of an interaction between perception of environmental stimuli, neural/hormonal responses to these perceptions (often labeled feelings), and subjective cognitive labeling of these feelings (Kleinginna and Kleinginna, 1981b). Evidence suggests there is a small core of core emotions (perhaps 6 or 8) that are uniquely associated with a specific facial expression (Izard, 1990). This implies that there are a small number of unique biological responses that are genetically hard-wired to specific facial expressions. A further implication is that the process works in reverse: if you want to change your feelings (i.e., your physiological functioning), you can do so by changing your facial expression. That is, if you are motivated to change how you feel and your feeling is associated with a specific facial expression, you can change that feeling by purposively changing your facial expression. Since most of us would rather feel happy than otherwise, the most appropriate facial expression would be a smile.

Explanations of influences/causes of arousal and direction may be different from explanations of persistence

In general, explanations regarding the source(s) of motivation can be categorized as either extrinsic (outside the person) or intrinsic (internal to the person). Intrinsic sources and corresponding theories can be further subcategorized as either body/physical, mind/mental (i.e., cognitive, affective, conative) or transpersonal/spiritual.

In current literature, needs are now viewed as dispositions toward action (i.e., they create a condition that is predisposed towards taking action or making a change and moving in a certain direction). Action or overt behavior may be initiated by either positive or negative incentives or a combination of both. The following chart provides a brief overview of the different sources of motivation (internal state) that have been studied. While initiation of action can be traced to each of these domains, it appears likely that initiation of behavior may be more related to emotions and/or the affective area (optimism vs. pessimism; self- esteem; etc.) while persistence may be more related to conation (volition) or goal-orientation. 

Sources of Motivational Needs


  • elicited by stimulus associated/connected to innately connected stimulus
  • obtain desired, pleasant consequences (rewards) or escape/avoid undesired, unpleasant consequences


  • imitate positive models
  • be a part of a group or a valued member


  • increase/decrease stimulation (arousal)
  • activate senses (taste, touch, smell, etc.
  • decrease hunger, thirst, discomfort, etc.
  • maintain homeostasis, balance


  • maintain attention to something interesting or threatening
  • develop meaning or understanding
  • increase/decrease cognitive disequilibrium; uncertainty
  • solve a problem or make a decision
  • figure something out
  • eliminate threat or risk


  • increase/decrease affective dissonance
  • increase feeling good
  • decrease feeling bad
  • increase security of or decrease threats to self-esteem
  • maintain levels of optimism and enthusiasm


  • meet individually developed/selected goal
  • obtain personal dream
  • develop or maintain self-efficacy
  • take control of one's life
  • eliminate threats to meeting goal, obtaining dream
  • reduce others' control of one's life


  • understand purpose of one's life
  • connect self to ultimate unknowns

Theories of motivation

Many of the theories of motivation address issues introduced previously in these materials. The following provides a brief overview to any terms or concepts that have not been previously discussed.


Each of the major theoretical approaches in behavioral learning theory posits a primary factor in motivation. Classical conditioning states that biological responses to associated stimuli energize and direct behavior. Operant learning states the primary factor is consequences: the application of reinforcers provides incentives to increase behavior; the application of punishers provides disincentives that result in a decrease in behavior.


There are several motivational theories that trace their roots to the information processing approach to learning. These approaches focus on the categories and labels people use help to identify thoughts, emotions, dispositions, and behaviors.

A first cognitive approach is attribution theory (Heider, 1958; Weiner, 1974). This theory proposes that every individual tries to explain success or failure of self and others by offering certain "attributions." These attributions are either internal or external and are either under control or not under control. The following chart shows the four attributions that result from a combination of internal or external locus of control and whether or not control is possible.




No Control





Task Difficulty

In a teaching/learning environment, it is important to assist the learner to develop a self-attribution explanation of effort (internal, control). If the person has an attribution of ability (internal, no control) as soon as the individual experiences some difficulties in the learning process, he or she will decrease appropriate learning behavior (e.g., I'm not good at this). If the person has an external attribution, then nothing the person can do will help that individual in a learning situation (i.e., responsibility for demonstrating what has been learned is completely outside the person). In this case, there is nothing to be done by the individual when learning problems occur.

A second cognitive approach is expectancy theory (Vroom, 1964) which proposes the following equation:

Motivation = Perceived Probability of Success (Expectancy) *
Connection of Success and Reward (Instrumentality) *
Value of Obtaining Goal (Valance, Value)

Since this formula states that the three factors of Expectancy, Instrumentality, and Valance or Value are to be multiplied by each other, a low value in one will result in a low value of motivation. Therefore, all three must be present in order for motivation to occur. That is, if an individual doesn't believe he or she can be successful at a task OR the individual does not see a connection between his or her activity and success OR the individual does not value the results of success, then the probability is lowered that the individual will engage in the required learning activity. From the perspective of this theory, all three variables must be high in order for motivation and the resulting behavior to be high.

The third cognitive approach is cognitive dissonance theory which is in some respects similar to disequilibrium in Piaget's theory of cognitive development. This theory was developed by Leon Festinger (1957), as social psychologist, and states that when there is a discrepancy between two beliefs, two actions, or between a belief and an action, we will act to resolve conflict and discrepancies. The implication is that if we can create the appropriate amount of disequilibrium, this will in turn lead to the individual changing his or her behavior which in turn will lead to a change in thought patterns which in turn leads to more change in behavior.


To summarize the cognitive approaches, notice the relationship between William James' formula for self-esteem (Self-esteem = Success / Pretensions) and the attribution and expectancy theories of motivation. If a person has an external attribution of success, self-concept is not likely to change as a result of success or failure because the person will attribute it to external factors. Likewise, if the person has an Internal/Ability explanation, his or her self-concept will be tied to learning to do a new activity quickly and easily (I do well because I'm naturally good at it). If failure or difficulty occurs, the person must quickly lower expectations in order to maintain self-esteem. However, if the person has a Internal/Effort explanation and high expectations for success, the person will persevere (i.e., stay motivated) in spite of temporary setbacks because one's self-esteem is not tied to immediate success.  

Cognitive dissonance theory suggests that we will seek balance or homeostasis in our lives and will resist influences or expectations to change. How, then, does change or growth occur. One source, according to Piaget, is biological development. As we mature cognitively we will rework our thinking and organizations of knowledge (e.g., schemas, paradigms, explanations) to more accurately reflect our understanding of the world. One of those organizations involves our explanations or attributions of success or failure. After puberty, when biological change slows down considerably, it is very difficult to change these attributions. It requires a long-term program where constant feedback is given about how one's behavior is responsible for one's success.

Psychoanalytic theories

The psychoanalytic theories of motivation propose a variety of fundamental influences. Freud (1990) suggested that all action or behavior is a result of internal, biological instincts that are classified into two categories: life (sexual) and death (aggression). Many of Freud's students broke with him over this concept. For example, Erikson (1993) and Sullivan (1968) proposed that interpersonal and social relationships are fundamental, Adler (1989) proposed power, while Jung (1953, 1997) proposed temperament and search for soul or personal meaningfulness.

Humanistic Theories

One of the most influential writers in the area of motivation is Abraham Maslow (1954).

Abraham Maslow (1954) attempted to synthesize a large body of research related to human motivation. Prior to Maslow, researchers generally focused separately on such factors as biology, achievement, or power to explain what energizes, directs, and sustains human behavior. Maslow posited a hierarchy of human needs based on two groupings: deficiency needs and growth needs. Within the deficiency needs, each lower need must be met before moving to the next higher level. Once each of these needs has been satisfied, if at some future time a deficiency is detected, the individual will act to remove the deficiency. The first four levels are:

1) Physiological: hunger, thirst, bodily comforts, etc.;

2) Safety/security: out of danger;

3) Belonginess and Love: affiliate with others, be accepted; and

4) Esteem: to achieve, be competent, gain approval and recognition.

According to Maslow, an individual is ready to act upon the growth needs if and only if the deficiency needs are met. Maslow's initial conceptualization included only one growth need--self-actualization. Self-actualized people are characterized by: 1) being problem-focused; 2) incorporating an ongoing freshness of appreciation of life; 3) a concern about personal growth; and 4) the ability to have peak experiences. Maslow later differentiated the growth need of self-actualization, specifically naming two lower-level growth needs prior to general level of self-actualization (Maslow & Lowery, 1998) and one beyond that level (Maslow, 1971). They are:

5) Cognitive: to know, to understand, and explore;

6) Aesthetic: symmetry, order, and beauty;

7) Self-actualization: to find self-fulfillment and realize one's potential; and

8) Self-transcendence: to connect to something beyond the ego or to help others find self-fulfillment and realize their potential.

Maslow's basic position is that as one becomes more self-actualized and self-transcendent, one becomes more wise (develops wisdom) and automatically knows what to do in a wide variety of situations. Daniels (2001) suggests that Maslow's ultimate conclusion that the highest levels of self-actualization are transcendent in their nature may be one of his most important contributions to the study of human behavior and motivation.

Norwood (1999) proposes that Maslow's hierarchy can be used to describe the kinds of information that individual's seek at different levels. For example, individuals at the lowest level seek coping information in order to meet their basic needs. Information that is not directly connected to helping a person meet his or her needs in a very short time span is simply left unattended. Individuals at the safety level need helping information. They seek to be assisted in seeing how they can be safe and secure. Enlightening information is sought by individuals seeking to meet their belongingness needs. Quite often this can be found in books or other materials on relationship development. Empowering information is sought by people at the esteem level. They are looking for information on how their ego can be developed. Finally, people in the growth levels of cogntive, aesthetic, and self-actualization seek edifying information. While Norwood does not specifically address the level of transcendence, I believe it safe to say that individuals at this stage would seek information on how to connect to something beyond themselves or to how others could be edified.

Maslow published his first conceptualization of his theory over 50 years ago (Maslow, 1943) and it has since become one of the most popular and often cited theories of human motivation. An interesting phenomenon related to Maslow's work is that in spite of a lack of evidence to support his hierarchy, it enjoys wide acceptance (Wahba & Bridgewell, 1976; Soper, Milford & Rosenthal, 1995).

The few major studies that have been completed on the hierarchy seem to support the proposals of William James (1892/1962) and Mathes (1981) that there are three levels of human needs. James hypothesized the levels of material (physiological, safety), social (belongingness, esteem), and spiritual. Mathes proposed the three levels were physiological, belonginess, and self-actualization; he considered security and self-esteem as unwarranted. Alderfer (1972) developed a comparable hierarchy with his ERG (existence, relatedness, and growth) theory. His approach modified Maslow's theory based on the work of Gordon Allport (1960, 1961) who incorporated concepts from systems theory into his work on personality.

Alderfer's Hierarchy of Motivational Needs  

Level of Need




Impel a person to make creative or productive effects on himself and his environment

Satisfied through using capabilities in engaging problems; creates a greater sense of wholeness and fullness as a human being


Involve relationships with significant others

Satisfied by mutually sharing thoughts and feelings; acceptance, confirmation, under- standing, and influence are elements


Includes all of the various forms of material and psychological desires

When divided among people one person's gain is another's loss if resources are limited

Maslow recognized that not all personalities followed his proposed hierarchy. While a variety of personality dimensions might be considered as related to motivational needs, one of the most often cited is that of introversion and extroversion. Reorganizing Maslow's hierarchy based on the work of Alderfer and considering the introversion/extraversion dimension of personality results in three levels, each with an introverted and extroverted component. This organization suggests there may be two aspects of each level that differentiate how people relate to each set of needs. Different personalities might relate more to one dimension than the other. For example, an introvert at the level of Other/Relatedness might be more concerned with his or her own perceptions of being included in a group, whereas an extrovert at that same level would pay more attention to how others value that membership.  

A Reorganization of Maslow's and Alderfer's Hierarchies  





Self-Actualization (development of competencies [knowledge, attitudes, and skills] and character)

Transcendence (assisting in the development of others' competencies and character; relationships to the unknown, unknowable)


Personal identification with group, significant others (Belongingness)

Value of person by group (Esteem)


Physiological, biological (including basic emotional needs)

Connectedness,  security

At this point there is little agreement about the identification of basic human needs and how they are ordered. For example, Ryan & Deci (2000) also suggest three needs, although they are not necessarily arranged hierarchically: the need for autonomy, the need for competence, and the need for relatedness. Thompson, Grace and Cohen (2001) state the most important needs for children are connection, recognition, and power. Nohria, Lawrence, and Wilson (2001) provide evidence from a sociobiology theory of motivation that humans have four basic needs: (1) acquire objects and experiences; (2) bond with others in long-term relationships of mutual care and commitment; (3) learn and make sense of the world and of ourselves; and (4) to defend ourselves, our loved ones, beliefs and resources from harm. The Institute for Management Excellence (2001) suggests there are nine basic human needs: (1) security, (2) adventure, (3) freedom, (4) exchange, (5) power, (6) expansion, (7) acceptance, (8) community, and (9) expression.

Notice that bonding and relatedness are a component of every theory. However, there do not seem to be any others that are mentioned by all theorists. Franken (2001) suggests this lack of accord may be a result of different philosophies of researchers rather than differences among human beings. In addition, he reviews research that shows a person's explanatory or attributional style will modify the list of basic needs. Therefore, it seems appropriate to ask people what they want and how their needs could be met rather than relying on an unsupported theory. For example, Waitley (1996) advises having a person imagine what life would be like if time and money were not an object in a person's life. That is, what would the person do this week, this month, next month, if he or she had all the money and time needed to engage in the activities and were secure that both would be available again next year. With some follow-up questions to identify what is keeping the person from happening now, this open-ended approach is likely to identify the most important needs of the individual.

There is much work still to be done in this area before we can rely on a theory to be more informative than simply collecting and analyzing data. However, this body of research can be very important to parents, educators, administrators and others concerned with developing and using human potential. It provides an outline of some important issues that must be addressed if human beings are to achieve the levels of character and competencies necessary to be successful in the information age.

Maslow's work lead to additional attempts to develop a grand theory of motivation, a theory that would put all of the factors influencing motivation into one model. An example is provided by Leonard, Beauvais, and Scholl (1995). These authors propose 5 factors as the sources of motivation: 1) Instrumental Motivation (rewards and punishers), 2) Intrinsic Process Motivation (enjoyment, fun), 3) Goal Internalization (self-determined values and goals), 4) Internal Self Concept-based Motivation (matching behavior with internally-developed ideal self), 5) External Self Concept-based Motivation (matching behavior with externally-developed ideal self). Individuals are influenced by all five factors, though in varying degrees that can change in specific situations. 

Factors one and five are both externally-oriented. The main difference is that individuals who are instrumentally motivated are influenced more by immediate actions in the environment (e.g. operant conditioning) whereas individuals who are self-concept motivated are influenced more by their constructions of external demands and ideals (e.g., social cognition).

Factors two, three, and four are more internally-oriented. In the case of intrinsic process, the specific task is interesting and provides immediate internal reinforcement (e.g., cognitive or humanistic theory). The individual with a goal-internalization orientation is more task-oriented (e.g., humanistic or social cognition theory) whereas the person with an internal self-concept orientation is more influenced by individual constructions of the ideal self (humanistic or psychoanalytic theory).

Social Learning

Social learning (or observational) theory suggests that modeling (imitating others) and vicarious learning (watching others have consequences applied to their behavior) are important motivators of behavior.

Social Cognition

Social cognition theory proposes reciprocal determination as a primary factor in both learning and motivation. In this view, the environment, an individual's behavior, and the individual's characteristics (e.g., knowledge, emotions, cognitive development) both influence and are influenced by each other two components. Bandura (1986, 1997) highlights self-efficacy (the belief that a particular action is possible and that the individual can accomplish it) and self-regulation (the establishment of goals, the development of a plan to attain those goals, the commitment to implement that plan, the actual implementation of the plan, and subsequent actions of reflection and modification or redirection. The work of Ames (1992) and Dweck (1986) discussed below is a major component of social cognitive views on motivation.

Transpersonal or Spiritual Theories

Most of the transpersonal or spiritual theories deal with the meaningfulness of our lives or ultimate meanings. Abraham Maslow (1954) has also been influential in this approach to motivation. Other influential scholars included Gordon Allport (1955), Victor Frankl (1998), William James (1997), Carl Jung (1953, 1997), Ken Wilber (1998).

Achievement motivation

One classification of motivation differentiates among achievement, power, and social factors (see McClelland, 1985; Murray, 1938, 1943). In the area of achievement motivation, the work on goal-theory has differentiated three separate types of goals: mastery goals (also called learning goals) which focus on gaining competence or mastering a new set of knowledge or skills; performance goals (also called ego-involvement goals) which focus on achieving normative-based standards, doing better than others, or doing well without a lot of effort; and social goals which focus on relationships among people (see Ames, 1992; Dweck, 1986; Urdan & Maehr, 1995). In the context of school learning, which involves operating in a relatively structured environment, students with mastery goals outperform students with either performance or social goals. However, in life success, it seems critical that individuals have all three types of goals in order to be very successful.

One aspect of this theory is that individuals are motivated to either avoid failure (more often associated with performance goals) or achieve success (more often associated with mastery goals). In the former situation, the individual is more likely to select easy or difficult tasks, thereby either achieving success or having a good excuse for why failure occurred. In the latter situation, the individual is more likely to select moderately difficult tasks which will provide an interesting challenge, but still keep the high expectations for success.

Impacting motivation in the classroom

Stipek (1988) suggests there are a variety of reasons why individuals may be lacking in motivation and provides a list of specific behaviors associated with high academic achievement. This is an excellent checklist to help students develop the conative component of their lives. In addition, as stated previously in these materials, teacher efficacy is a powerful input variable related to student achievement (Proctor, 1984).

There are a variety of specific actions that teachers can take to increase motivation on classroom tasks. In general, these fall into the two categories discussed above: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.



o                                Explain or show why learning a particular content or skill is important

o                                Create and/or maintain curiosity

o                                Provide a variety of activities and sensory stimulations

o                                Provide games and simulations

o                                Set goals for learning

o                                Relate learning to student needs

o                                Help student develop plan of action

o                                Provide clear expectations

o                                Give corrective feedback

o                                Provide valuable rewards

o                                Make rewards available

As a general rule, teachers need to use as much of the intrinsic suggestions as possible while recognizing that not all students will be appropriately motivated by them. The extrinsic suggestions will work, but it must be remembered that they do so only as long as the student is under the control of the teacher. When outside of that control, unless the desired goals and behaviors have been internalized, the learner will cease the desired behavior and operate according to his or her internal standards or to other external factors.


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