Implications of Learning Theories in Modern World

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Motivation
Excerpted from Chapter 11 of Biehler/Snowman, PSYCHOLOGY APPLIED TO TEACHING, 8/e, Houghton Mifflin, 1997.  
Definition of Motivation
(p. 399)

Behavioral Views of Motivation
(pp. 399-402)

Cognitive Views of Motivation
(pp. 402-406)

The Humanistic View of Motivation
(pp. 406-409)

The Impact of Cooperative Learning on Motivation
(pp. 416-417)

Suggestions for Teaching in Your Classroom: Motivating Students to Learn (p. 422)

Resources for Further Investigation
(pp. 433-434)

 
Definition of Motivation
Motivation is typically defined as the forces that account for the arousal, selection, direction, and continuation of behavior. Nevertheless, many teachers have at least two major misconceptions about motivation that prevent them from using this concept with maximum effectiveness. One misconception is that some students are unmotivated. Strictly speaking, that is not an accurate statement. As long as a student chooses goals and expends a certain amount of effort to achieve them, he is, by definition, motivated. What teachers really mean is that students are not motivated to behave in the way teachers would like them to behave. The second misconception is that one person can directly motivate another. This view is inaccurate because motivation comes from within a person. What you can do, with the help of the various motivation theories discussed in this chapter, is create the circumstances that influence students to do what you want them to do. Many factors determine whether the students in your classes will be motivated or not motivated to learn. You should not be surprised to discover that no single theoretical interpretation of motivation explains all aspects of student interest or lack of it. Different theoretical interpretations do, however, shed light on why some students in a given learning situation are more likely to want to learn than others. Furthermore, each theoretical interpretation can serve as the basis for the development of techniques for motivating students in the classroom. Several theoretical interpretations of motivation -- some of which are derived from discussions of learning presented earlier -- will now be summarized.

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Behavioral Views of Motivation
Operant Conditioning and Social Learning Theory
The Effect of Reinforcement In Chapter 8 we discussed Skinner's emphasis of the role of reinforcement in learning. After demonstrating that organisms tend to repeat actions that are reinforced and that behavior can be shaped by reinforcement, Skinner developed the technique of programmed instruction to make it possible for students to be reinforced for every correct response. According to Skinner, supplying the correct answer--and being informed by the program that it is the correct answer--motivates the student to go on to the next frame; and as the student works through the program, the desired terminal behavior is progressively shaped. Following Skinner's lead, many behavioral learning theorists devised techniques of behavior modification on the assumption that students are motivated to complete a task by being promised a reward of some kind. Many times the reward takes the form of praise or a grade. Sometimes it is a token that can be traded in for some desired object; and at other times the reward may be the privilege of engaging in a self-selected activity. Operant conditioning interpretations of learning may help reveal why some students react favorably to particular subjects and dislike others. For instance, some students may enter a required math class with a feeling of delight, while others may feel that they have been sentenced to prison. Skinner suggests that such differences can be traced to past experiences. He would argue that the student who loves math has been shaped to respond that way by a series of positive experiences with math. The math hater, in contrast, may have suffered a series of negative experiences. The Power of Persuasive...
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