Motivation in the Classroom
Theories and ideas
Educational Psychology- HDV-284334
Instructor: Beth Reilly
March 28, 2011
From birth, babies begin exploring their environment. Starting with their first grip of a finger and continuing through each milestone, there is an inherent desire to understand the world around them. Greeno et al indicated that as children grow they are “seen as naturally motivated to learn when their experience is inconsistent with their current understanding” (as cited in Eggen & Kauchak, 2010, p. 287). Cognitive theory suggests, each person is motivated by their need to understand their experiences like Piaget discussed in his theory of equilibrium. Students’ motivation to learn involves their “tendencies to find academic activities meaningful and worthwhile and try to get the intended learning benefits from them” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010, p. 286). Teachers can motivate learners by promoting student involvement, satisfying student needs, increasing their motivation methodologies through classroom climate and instruction techniques, and intrinsically motivating students.
To promote student involvement, the students’ own needs, beliefs, and goals have to be incorporated into learning. Additionally, their interest in learning, growth, and development needs to be fulfilled. Teachers that convey positive messages to students indicating success and proficiency provide motivation to students. Research indicates that “learners’ motivation is the primary factor influencing both test performance and success in school” (Perry et. al, as cited in Eggen & Kauchak, 2010, p. 284). Effective praise is one tool teachers use to communicate competence. As learners strive for autonomy they reinforce their feelings of competency. For example, as students are allowed to choose their final project topic their sense of independence and ability is reinforced. Connectivity to the classroom, and respect within it, is another important aspect of classroom climate that fulfills the need for relatedness. This need can be met as teachers communicate “unconditional positive regard and a genuine commitment to students and their learning” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010, p. 293). Teaching that facilitates active learning, such as interactions between students and teachers, teacher evaluation of student work, and clear expectations, supports students’ engagement and participation in their own growth.
Maslow is known for defining a hierarchy of needs that details “whole person” needs classified as deficiency needs or growth needs. Deficiency needs, such as the need to survive, belong, be safe, and feel recognized and approved (self-esteem) “must be met before students will be motivated to move to growth needs” (Eggen & Kauchak, 2010, p. A-12). Each deficiency need can motivate learners to fulfill the needs when they remain deficient. As learners strive to reach their potential and meet capabilities in an effort to grow, there is a continued desire to be motivated, to learn, and to develop. Additionally, students need to feel safe and protected in their classroom as Maslow suggests for motivated growth and development. A student’s interest and perseverance is required to meet challenges and to develop the initiative that drives motivation. In order to develop this initiative, students need to be internally motivated and engaged (Watts & Caldwell, 2008). In several studies, Larson (2000) “observed that structured activities are positively associated with intrinsic motivation and initiative development.” Teachers provide the structured activities, like discussion groups or real-life experiments, which facilitate student engagement and provide intrinsic motivation. When the classroom climate is one of respect and offers a sense of belonging it supports the needs of students and positively contributes to their motivation to learn. Facilitating student participation and offering opportunities to give...