Motivational Theory

1 January 2017

Abstract Motivation refers to reasons that underlie behavior that is characterized by willingness and volition.

Intrinsic motivation is animated by personal enjoyment, interest, or pleasure, whereas extrinsic motivation is governed by reinforcement contingencies. Motivation involves a constellation of closely related beliefs, perceptions, values, interests, and actions. Motivation within individuals tends to vary across subject areas, and this domain specificity increases with age. Motivation in children predicts motivation later in life, and the stability of this relationship strengthens with age.

Traditionally, educators consider intrinsic motivation to be more desirable 2 and to result in better learning outcomes than extrinsic motivation. In general, children appear to enter school with high levels of intrinsic motivation, although motivation tends to decline as children progress through school. Research suggests that motivation can be manipulated through certain instructional practices, although studies demonstrate both positive and negative effects.

The use of rewards may either encourage or diminish motivation, depending on the type of rewards and the context in which they are given.

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Teachers should attempt to give students more autonomy or control over their own learning by allowing them to make choices and use collaborative or cooperative learning approaches. In addition, teachers should create a supportive classroom environment with respect to goal structures, attributions, and external evaluation. There are several challenges to assessing motivation, especially in children.

Recommendations for eliciting evidence of motivation for assessment purposes are made. Keywords: motivation, intrinsic, extrinsic, self-efficacy, values, interests, goals, attributions  Acknowledgements The author would like to thank Janet Fowler for assistance in conducting literature searches and the following reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this paper: Bob Dolan, Debbie Hamilton, Jadie Kong, and Kathleen McDonnold.

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