Maehr, Martin L. 1932-
Martin L. Maehr was born in 1932 in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Maehr grew up in Perry, Oklahoma, where his father was a principal, and later a professor of educational psychology and administrator at Concordia College in Nebraska. Maehr married his wife Jane in 1959. He received his bachelor of arts and master of divinity degrees from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. He then went on to doctoral study in psychology and education at the University of Nebraska. Maehr's dissertation was titled, “The Effect of Food Deprivation on Binocular Conflict,” and his advisor was Warren R. Baller.
Maehr first studied for the ministry, with the expectation of teaching at a liberal arts college. He planned to enter a graduate program in classics, studying Greek and Latin, but a college administrator who was a friend of his family advised him to study educational psychology, because the university was investing resources into that area and not into classics. Maehr later met Dr. Robert E. Stake, a psychometrician. Stake encouraged Maehr's interests in psychology, which led to his dissertation research and later to experimental research on social motivation and achievement in school settings. Maehr has stated that his dissertation work, combined with several courses in counseling and social psychology, ultimately led to his career studying motivation.
Maehr's first academic position as an assistant professor was at Concordia Senior College in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. After several years of teaching, Maehr received a postdoctoral research fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health that allowed him to conduct research in social psychology at Syracuse University. This was a turning point in Maehr's career, and in 1967 he moved to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he served as director and professor at the Institute for Child Behavior and Development, as professor of educational psychology, and as associate dean for graduate and international programs. In 1992 Maehr moved to the University of Michigan, where he became director of the combined program in education and psychology, and a professor of education and psychology.
Maehr has published widely in the field of achievement motivation. His early work in motivation examined a variety of topics, including self-concept, Atkinson's theory of achievement motivation, and the “Pygmalion” effect. In 1976 Maehr published an influential article in Review of Educational Research titled “Continuing motivation: An analysis of a seldom considered educational outcome.” In that article Maehr argued that motivation to continue engaging in academic tasks is an important, yet undervalued outcome, that should be fostered in classrooms.
During his time at the University of Illinois, Maehr worked alongside a number of other motivation researchers, including John Nichols, Carol Ames, and Carol Dweck. The conversations and collaborations between and among these scholars ultimately led to the development of goal orientation theory, and Maehr was one of the major contributors to this extremely influential framework for the study of motivation. His work involved measurement development, the application of goal theory to classroom and school reform, and the relation of goal orientation theory to both school leadership and school culture. Along with the late Carol Midg-ley and other collaborators at the University of Michigan, Maehr helped to develop the Patterns of Adaptive Learning Survey (PALS), which is one of the most widely used measures of achievement goals in the world. He also published several climate and leadership inventories with Larry Braskamp. Maehr also collaborated with other motivation researchers, including Avi Kaplan, Tim Urdan, Dennis McInerney, Leslie Fyans, and Eric M. Anderman.
At the University of Michigan, Maehr collaborated extensively with Midgley and the late Paul R. Pintrich. Maehr and Midgley worked together on several large-scale projects. One of the most notable involved work on motivation-based school reform in elementary and middle schools; Maehr and Midgley and their students worked with teachers, administrators, and parents in order to change the policies and practices of schools to become more aligned with the pursuit of mastery goals. That work resulted in the publication of a book, Transforming School Cultures, in 1996. Maehr worked with Pintrich on many projects, including the editing of several editions of the well-regarded Advances in Motivation and Achievement series as well as other volumes on academic motivation.
Maehr published extensively. In addition to the Advances in Motivation series, he wrote and edited numerous other books, and published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. His research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Education, National Science Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society.
Maehr retired from his position at the University of Michigan in 2005. However, he remained extremely active as Emeritus Professor of Education and Psychology at Michigan, and as the co-principal investigator on a large-scale NSF-funded project examining the assessment of motivation, and a study funded by the Spencer Foundation examining Middle Eastern students in public schools in the United States.
Maehr, M. L. (1976). Continuing motivation: An analysis of a seldom considered educational outcome. Review of Educational Research, 46, 443–462.
Maehr, M. L. (1994). Culture and achievement motivation. American Psychologist, 29, 887–896.
Maehr, M. L., & Kleiber, D. A. (1981). The graying of achievement motivation. American Psychologist, 36, 787–799.
Maehr, M. L., & McInerney, D. M. (2004). Motivation as personal investment. In D. M. McInerney & S. Van Etten (Eds.), Sociocultural influences on motivation and learning, Vol. 4. Big theories revisited. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
Maehr, M. L., & Midgley, C. (1991). Enhancing student motivation: A school-wide approach. Educational Psychologist, 26, 399–427.
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