As teachers, it is important to understand the concept of motivation, its meaning, use and importance in a classroom setting. Countless practitioners have conducted research in this field, but what exactly is classroom research telling us about student motivation? Classroom tasks, instruction and social interactions, through research, have been shown as being central to understanding student engagement in classroom learning, but how can this knowledge be applied in a classroom? This essay, drawing on a number of practitioners central to this field of study, aims to identify the influence these key areas have on student motivation, in the hope for a better understanding and use of motivation within the classroom.
What is motivation?
A simple but accurate definition of motivation is not easy, as there are many different approaches and beliefs about it; however motivation is usually defined as an internal state that arouses, directs and maintains behavior. (Malrgetts & Woolfolk, 2007, Martin, 2003) When we speak about motives we are generally referring to the causes or reasons behind certain behavior. As a high level of student motivation is linked closely with academic success (Linnenbrink & Pintrich 2002) it is important for teachers to understand the purpose, functions and limitations of motivation within the classroom. Motivation, according to Donnell, Reeve and Smith (2007), “is the study of the forces that energise and direct behavior”. In this context, energy implies the behavior is strong, intense and full of effort, direction indicates that behavior is focused and accomplishing a particular goal or outcome. There is, as these writers suggest, a lot involved with ensuring all students are and remain motivated, and there are a number of things in the classroom that can influence a students’ motivation. Classroom tasks, instruction, and social interactions are all aspects within the classroom that can affect
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