Psychology is one of the crucial subjects designed by human intellect which resolves several problems for humans. One of the techniques used by psychologists is to motivate people for the achievement of specific tasks. They have also designed constructive motivational theories for educational purposes. Today teachers are more successful as compared to the past, as they can motivate their students effectively by using the motivational theories. The purpose of this research essay is to analyze how teachers can motivate their students.
The first section is about the definitions of motivation which includes its literal and terminological meanings in psychology and learning contexts. The second section will answer the question that how students can be motivated through mentioning their needs such as competence, autonomy and relatedness. In the last section the essay will focus on two motivational constructs competence perception and goal which can motivate students effectively. For this research essay, it is would be helpful to commence with the definition of motivation. According to Macmillan dictionary motivation is literally defined as a feeling of desire to do something.
Thus, when one motivates others one actually creates desire in them for performing a particular job. Furthermore, Bonnie and Cengage (2001) define it as a psychological term that is a force which generates “goal-directed behavior”. Nonetheless, Pintrich and Schunk (2002, pg. 5) believe that motivation is not a creation or production, but rather a process which not only produces but also sustains desire for activities. In the context of learning researchers have minor disputes in the terminological definition of motivation that whether motivation related to learning includes the motivation for performance (Pintrich and Schunk 2002, pg. ). Brophy (2004, pg. 15) states that motivation in these two contexts are different from one another as learning is associated with the process of information, sense making, and proceeds in comprehension which happens when a learner gains knowledge or skill while performance is related to the revelation of that knowledge or skill after one has acquired it. Thus, the strategies will be also quite unlike for the motivation in these two different contexts. However, teachers should utilize both strategies to motivate their students because a successful student should be able to learn and demonstrate.
In addition, there are two methods of motivation. The first one refers to a drive caused by an interest or enjoyment within an individual rather than any external force and that is called intrinsic motivation (Brophy 2004, pp. 4-9). The second one is called extrinsic motivation which relies on external entities, such as rewards and threat of punishment. Teachers can use both techniques to motivate their students effectively (Pintrich and Schunk 2002, pg. 245). These definitions are also associated with the needs of students so if the educator knows what learners and students need; he can easily motivate them to learn.
Higgins and Kruglanski (2000, pg. 21) proposed that Motivation is associated with the main question of what the needs of people are. The word motivation points towards this idea as motivaion is derived from the Latin word ‘movere’ which means to move. The questions about what makes people move towards specific tasks are answered by motivational theories (Pintrich & Schunk 2002, pg. 5) and those tasks are the needs of people. Therefore, educators should find out the needs of students to motivate them successfully.
Self-determination theory focuses on the basic needs of students for their motivation and according to this theory (Ryan and Decci 2000, cited in Pintrich 2003, pg. 670) students have three basic needs: “competence, autonomy and relatedness”. The first need ‘competence’ is defined as a desire to be capable and skillful in integration with people. The second need ‘autonomy’ means the desire of liberty or independence to make autonomous decisions. The third and last need ‘relatedness’ refers to the desire to be related and attached with a group of people.
All humans have these needs in their nature in different situations. One can face several problems if one cannot fulfill these needs (Pintrich 2003, pg. 670). Competence perception plays a key role in student motivation while goals and attractive classrooms are also very effective. Competence perception or self-efficacy refers to the expectation of doing well and this expectation results in persistence and working hard to achieve goal (Pintrich & Schunk 2002, pg. 53). There are several constructs given by educational psychologists about the competence perception or self-efficacy.
However, the general idea in all these constructs is almost the same as the students who believe in their ability or competence, and so they persist, struggle and improve (Martin 2003, pg. 32). Those who do not believe in their ability they do not work hard and persist because of their lack hope for success. It is quite easy to motivate those students who have normal perception of their competence. They are very different to motivate to those students who overestimate their capabilities to change their behavior (Pintrich 2003, pg. 671).
For this reason this is the first principle regarding the judgment of competence to provide accurate feedback to students about their strengths and weaknesses in their performance and learning to show them their real competence, although some old theories insist only on positive feedbacks which show the strengths of students to develop their self-confidence. Nevertheless, Pintrinch and Schunch (2002, pg. 65-66) believe that teacher can motivate their students effectively by providing them accurate feedbacks which reveals their weak point as well so that they can change their behavior to improve(Pintrich 2003, pg. 671).
The second principle related to the perception of competence which is insisted by many motivational theories is to provide tasks according to the level of students. If the tasks are easy students will perform it very easily and it will result in their overestimation (Pintrich 2003, pg. 671). On the other hand if the tasks are too difficult students cannot do it and so they will lose their confidence. Thus teachers should provide appropriate tasks which challenge students and show them their real capabilities (Pintrich & Schunk 2002, pg. 70). Another significant program is to motivate students through the pursuit of their goals.
Psychologists have designed several goal constructs for the motivation of human in general but there are two main goal constructs for the motivation of students and those are goal content and goal orientation. In both programs, teachers focus on the nature of goal to motivate students in classrooms but in this essay only goal content will be focused. The theories of Ford (1992) and Wentzel (2000) for goal content are very useful for teachers. Ford mentions a comprehensive set of twenty four goals for students that one may chase in any field (Pintrich & Schunk 2002, pp. 199-204).
Wentzel explains the goal content theory for educators to apply it in classroom (Pintrich & Schunk 2002, pg. 205). It is hard to mention all of the twenty four goals in this research essay but the social goal, which is more in significance, will be mentioned. According to some educators, social goals like friendship with other students divide the concentration of students but Wenzel states that can result in effective motivation for academic purposes. In conclusion, firstly, the term of motivation has been defined from psychological aspect in teaching and learning context.
Secondly, the basic needs of students were mentioned through which they can be effectively motivated and three basic needs “competence, autonomy and relatedness” has been explained. Then the last portion of research was about competence perception and goal content which are useful techniques in the context of student motivation. As this was a short essay, all the motivational theories were not mentioned but educators should read all the latest researches to find out effective motivational techniques. After words they should apply those techniques in their classes.