Motivation is a critical component of learning. Motivation is important in getting students to engage in academic activities. It is also important in determining how much students will learn from the activities they perform or the information to which they will be exposed to. Students who are motivated to learn something use higher cognitive processes in learning about it. Motivation to do something can come about in many ways. It can be a personality characteristic or a stable long-lasting interest in something. There are several theories of motivation that exist. Some state that motivation is tied to the idea that behaviours that have been rewarded in the past will be more likely to be repeated in the future. Therefore past experiences will motivate a student to perform in future ones.
Other theories prefer to think of motivation as a way to satisfy certain needs. Some basic needs people must satisfy are food, shelter, love and positive self-esteem. Therefore, motivation to do something may be based on the achievement of these needs.
Yet another theory (the attribution theory) seeks to understand people’s explanations and excuses when it comes to their successes and failures. When people feel that they have control over their success in something, then they are more motivated to achieve in it. If they feel that they will not have any control in their success they might not be as motivated to achieve.
The expectancy theory of motivation is based on the belief that peoples efforts to achieve depends on their expectations of rewards. People will be motivated to do something based on whether they think that they will be successful and be rewarded.
How to enhance motivation:
The most important types of motivation for educational psychology are achievement motivation, people’s tendencies to strive for success and choose activities that are goal oriented. They main difference in achievement is the difference in how someone is motivated. Some people are motivated to learn, while others are motivated to perform well and get a good grade. It is important that teachers should try to convince there students that learning rather than grades are the purpose of academic work. This can be done by emphasizing the interest value and practical importance of the material that the students are studying and by de-emphasizing grades and other rewards.
It has also been seen that teachers' expectations of their students have an effect on student motivation. Research has generally found that students will live up or down to their teachers' expectations for them, particularly in younger grades when teachers know relatively little about their students' levels of achievement. In order to make sure that students will achieve communicates positive expectations to them. The teacher must communicate the expectation to their students that they feel that their students can learn the material. There are also ways that a teacher can imply that they have positive expectations for their students. These include:
* Waiting for the student to respond to a question.
* Avoid making distinctions of achievement among students. Assessment and results should be a private matter.
* Treat all students equally. Call on all students regardless of achievement levels, and spend equal amounts of time with them. Guard against biases.
Sometimes the course itself is interesting enough and useful enough for a student to be motivated to do well in it. However, much of what is learned in school is not inherently interesting to most students. For this reason a variety of incentives and rewards for learning are introduced. These might be praise, grades, recognition or prizes. However, it has been researched whether or not extrinsic rewards end up decreasing intrinsic motivation. There are ways to enhance intrinsic motivation in the classroom:
1) Arouse interest: It is important to convince students of the importance and interest level of the material that is about to be presented, to show that the knowledge to be gained will be useful.
2) Maintaining curiosity: A skilful teacher will use a variety of means to further arouse or maintain curiosity in the course of the lesson. The use of demonstrations helps to make students want to understand.
3) Use a variety of interesting presentation modes: The motivation to learn is enhanced by the use of interesting materials, as well as by a variety in the way that material is presented. For example a teacher can use films, guest speakers, demonstrations and so on, in order to maintain interest in a subject. However, all of these different materials need to be carefully planned and should all focus on the course objectives and complement each other.
4) Help students set their own goals: People will work harder for goals that they have set for themselves, than if they were set by others.
5) Express clear expectations: Students need to know exactly what they are supposed to do, how they will be evaluated, and what the consequences of success will be. Failure often stems from confusion about what was asked of them.
6) Provide clear feedback: Feedback can serve as an incentive. It can be an adequate reward in some cases. Feedback must be clear and specific and given close in time to the performance. It should be informative and motivational and help by giving them suggestions for future success.
7) Increase the value and availability of extrinsic motivators: Students must value incentives that are used to motivate them. For example, some students may not be all that interested in receiving teacher praise and grades, but might value notes sent home to parents, more recess time or special privileges.