Motivation lecture notes


Extrinsic rewards


Why may these rewards not increase motivation?



Cohen (1990) motivation is something that drives people to do what they do.


Brehm and Self (1989) we should think about the extent to which we are motivated.

Also we should consider effort.

We should consider:

Internal needs

Potential outcomes

Estimation of success (If too easy then demotivating)


Defining motivation is difficult


Are there different types of motivation?


What role do others play in motivating you?


Others may influence you but cannot make you do things.


Taylor and Thornton (1995) say ‘No one is responsible for the motivation of another person’.


Modelling – Social learning theory (challenges Taylor and Thornton? Or supports?)



In general, motivation can be considered as either extrinsic (behavioural) or intrinsic (biological, cognitive, affective , conative, or spiritual).

                                                    Sources of Motivational Needs



  • increase/decrease stimulation (arousal)
  • activate senses (taste, touch, smell, etc)
  • decrease hunger, thirst, discomfort, etc.
  • maintain homeostasis, balance


  • increase/decrease affective dissonance
  • increase feeling good
  • decrease feeling bad
  • increase security of threats or of self-esteem
  • maintain levels of optimism and enthusiasm


  • maintain attention to something interesting or threatening
  • develop meaning or understanding
  • increase/decrease cognitive disequilibrium; uncertainty
  • solve a problem or make a decision
  • figure something out
  • eliminate threat or risk


  • meet individually developed/selected goal
  • obtain personal dream
  • take control of one's life
  • eliminate threats to meeting goal, obtaining dream
  • reduce others' control of one's life


  • elicited by stimulus associated/connected to innately connected stimulus
  • obtain desired, pleasant consequences (rewards)
  • imitate positive models


  • understand purpose of one's life
  • connect self to ultimate unknowns


Hull (1943)


Good for physiological needs but not so good for psychological needs (e.g. the need for affiliation or achievement).

LeFrancois (1997) points out that physiological needs can be satisfied and psychological needs are never completely satisfied.  Maslow’s hierarchy of needs better explains psychological needs (i.e. striving for self-actualization).

Deficiency needs would be the drive to satisfy hunger etc; this would prevent learning owing to distraction or inability to concentrate.


Yerkes-Dodson Law addresses the function of the physiological component of motivation (such as heart rate, brain activity etc).  The theory points out that there is not a direct linear relationship between physiological arousal and motivation.  Too much arousal would lead to a drop in motivation and performance.




Humanistic theories


Maslow (1954)


Slater (1996) disagrees with the order of needs.

He looked at schizophrenics.

They are not secure but could show intimacy.


A couple of other needs could be added:


Criticism – but already covered by esteem needs and belongingness needs.




Emotive influences can be linked to Yerkes-Dodson.  Too much emotional arousal will cause a decrease in self-efficacy and thus a drop in motivation and performance.


Rewards and Reinforcement


Cox (1991) believes that motivation is a drive that can be influenced and purposefully changed by well thought-out environmental manipulations.  A behaviourist view.


Cox (1991)





Attribution theory


Locus of control

Internal locus of control – believing that success or failure is attributable to one’s own effort or ability.

External locus of control – attributing success or failure to factors outside of one’s control (e.g. luck, poor teaching, etc).


High achievers attribute success to internal and stable (fixed or unchangeable) causes


High achievers attribute failure to external and stable causes (test was not fair) or internal and unstable causes (I didn’t revise).


Dweck and Leggett 1988

Termed ‘Mastery orientated’


Persist in the face of failure


Low achievers attribute success to internal unstable causes (I passed because I did lots of revision) or external causes such as ‘the test was easy’ or ‘I was lucky my favourite topics came up’.


They fail to make the connection between personal ability and consequences.

Label themselves as thick and useless.


They have low expectations and lower levels of motivation.


A form of ‘learned helplessness’ (Dweck 1978).


Point out – cognitive approach

Remedy – Teacher has to persuade the child to think differently about themselves.


Impacting motivation in the classroom

There are a variety of specific actions that teachers can take to increase motivation on classroom tasks. In general, these fall into the two categories: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.



  • Explain or show why learning a particular content or skill is important
  • Create and/or maintain curiosity
  • Provide a variety of activities and sensory stimulations
  • Provide games and simulations
  • Set goals for learning
  • Relate learning to student needs
  • Help student develop plan of action
  • Provide clear expectations
  • Give corrective feedback
  • Provide valuable rewards
  • Make rewards available

Intrinsic works best for most. Extrinsic rewards will work provided that the teacher is around.

Types of rewards:

              Effective Praise VS Ineffective Praise


  1. Is delivered contingently.
  2. Specifies the particulars of the accomplishment.
  3. Shows spontaneity, and other signs of credibility; suggests clear attention to the student's accomplishment.
  4. rewards attainment of specified performance criteria.
  5. Provides information to students about their competence or the value of their accomplishments.
  6. Orients students towards better appreciation of their own task-related behaviour and thinking about problem solving.
  7. Uses student’s own prior accomplishments as the content for describing present accomplishments.
  8. Is given in recognition of noteworthy effort or success at difficult tasks.
  9. Fosters endogenous attributes.
  10. Fosters appreciation of and desirable attributions about task relevant behaviour after the task is completed.

    Ineffective Praise:

1.      Is delivered randomly or unsystematically.

2.      Is restricted to global positive reactions.

3.      Shows a bland uniformity, which suggests a conditioned response made with minimal attention.

4.      Provides no information at all or gives students information about their status.

5.      Is given without regard to the effort expended or the meaning of the accomplishment.

6.      Focuses students' attention on the teacher as an external authority figure who is manipulating them.

7.      Intrudes into ongoing process, distracting attention from task relevant behaviour.

Motivation factors and strategies by Time period

Beginning, During and Ending

Time: Beginning - When learner enters   and starts learning.

Motivation Factors:

Attitudes - towards the environment, teacher, subject matter and self.

Needs - the basic need within the learner at the time of learning.

Motivation Strategies:


Time: During - When learner is involved in the body or main content of the learning process

Motivation Factors:

Stimulation - the stimulation processes affecting the learner during the learning experience.

Affect - the emotional experience of the learner while learning.

Motivational Strategies:


Time: Ending - When learner is completing the learning process

Motivational Factors:

Competence - the competence value for the learner that is a result of the learning behaviours

Reinforcement - the reinforcement value attached to the learning experience, for the learner.

Motivational Strategies: