Educational Psychology: Motivation of Students

Motivation is the force that pushes us to engage in certain behaviors. This force can be of different nature - cognitive, biological or emotional. It is what drives us to take action. Psychologists have developed theories to explain the motivation.

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Motivation to Learn

Motivation to learn is defined as the way the students view academic tasks; some view them as valuable, important, meaningful, and beneficial, regardless of whether they are internally or externally motivated. Psychologists had noted that there is a certain force, which enables them to understand, explore and interact with their environment, but as they grow they lose their urge to learn, and start seeing learning as a burden. Students in higher learning have lost driving force to learn. Student motivation is about the learner's desire to take part in the learning process; students participate in academic activities because of various reasons or goals. Those learners internally driven involve in the learning activity because of benefits that learning provides or feelings of achievement that learning provides. On the other hand, learners who get motivated externally, get involved in academic activity to satisfy teachers, avoid being punished or get some rewards from teachers such as approval. Most students have low morale, and they do not see motivating factors of learning because learning may not provide immediate benefits.

As mentioned above, learner's desire to take part in learning is motivated internally or externally. Bala who works extra hard to maintain his grades high is an example of extrinsically motivated learner. This learner suffers from lack of rewards, such as approval, and loss of respect because of failure and desire to maintain his self esteem.

What Factors Motivate Students to Learn?

Brophy 1987 notes that student's motivation to learn is a phenomenon gained over time through experience; he argues that learners' competence is induced by parents, teachers and those experienced. This particular behavior induces through socialization, modeling, through highlighting societal expectations to learners and instruction.

As an educational psychologist, I believe that motivation to learn can be obtained through modeling, informing learners about their expectations and socialization. Parents and teachers do this in cooperation. Parents have a role of shaping and develop student's attitudes towards learning. Parents should introduce the child to the world by encouraging him/her for exploration, telling their children that learning is valuable and introduce learning resources to the student. Raising learners properly at home, they will develop competence, sense of personal worth, independence, and self-efficacy, through this the learners are able to compete favorably with others, participate freely in academic duties, handle academic challenges, tolerate failure and cope with strenuous situations.

Teachers have a role to motivate students to learn, teachers impact the learners expectation of the society. According to Stipek, 1988, teachers hold a powerful influence on a learner, learners learn if their teachers expect them to learn. Teachers who show their students the importance of learning often have students who are highly motivated.

School setting also motivates students to learn and to set school goals; classroom environment and teacher interaction may form strong learning related attitudes in students. School has a role of introducing a learner to a larger society; schools form learner's expectations and provide necessary resources for learning.

Importantly, I also have the view that intrinsic motivation is essential in learning. Intrinsically motivated students tend to learn better because they employ strategies that help them learn better. They use logical methods of gathering information and decision making strategies.


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