Motivation (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Apr 23, 2014

Relation of Motivation To Learning And Performance

Keith Mitchell’s perceptions of his students exemplify our intuitive understanding of the role of motivation in classroom learning and performance. Motivation can affect both new learning and the performance of previously learned skills, strategies, and behaviors. Activities such as drills and review sessions involve performance of previously learned skills, but most class time is spent learning facts, beliefs, rules, concepts, skills, strategies, algorithms, and behaviors.

As an example of the effect of motivation on performance, suppose that Keith tells his class to complete some review material and that the students, being less than enthusiastic about this assignment, work lackadaisically. To boost students’ motivation, Keith announces that they will have free time as soon as they complete the assignment. Assuming that the students value free time, we would expect them to quickly finish their work.

Such performance effects often are dramatic, but the role of motivation during learning is equally important. Motivation can influence what, when, and how we learn (Schunk, 1995). Students motivated to learn about a topic are apt to engage in activities they believe will help them learn, such as attend carefully to the instruction, mentally organize and rehearse the material to be learned, take notes to facilitate subsequent studying, check their level of understanding, and ask for help when they do not understand the material (Zimmerman, 2000). Collectively, these activities improve learning.

In contrast, students unmotivated to learn are not apt to be as systematic in their learning efforts. They may be inattentive during the lesson and not organize or rehearse material. Note taking may be done haphazardly or not at all. They may not monitor their level of understanding or ask for help when they do not understand what is being taught. It is little wonder that learning suffers.

A key point is that motivation bears a reciprocal relation to learning and performance; that is, motivation influences learning and performance and what students do and learn influences their motivation (Pintrich, 2003; Schunk, 1995). When students attain learning goals, goal attainment conveys to them that they possess the requisite capabilities for learning. These beliefs motivate them to set new challenging goals. Students who are motivated to learn often find that once they do they are intrinsically motivated to continue their learning.

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