Motivation and Learners

Understanding Learners in FE: Motivation

Date: 6th December 2010

Table of Contents

Table of Contents 2
Part 1 3
What is Motivation? 3
The Behaviorist Theories 3
The Cognitive Theories 5
The Humanist Theories 7
References: 9

Part 1
What is Motivation?
Motivation is the force that drives a person to achieve a goal. defines motivation as “The psychological feature that arouses an organism to action towards a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behavior”. Motivation can be divided into Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation. Basic motivation can be represented thus:

Diagram 1 - (

Deci and Ryan (2000) described intrinsic motivation as the “doing of an activity for its inherent satisfactions rather than for some separable consequence”. The activity itself provides satisfaction.
Extrinsic motivation on the other hand, describes motivation that manifests with the promise of a “specific goal that provides satisfaction independent of the activity itself” (Leavitt, Pondy and Boje, 1964).
The Behaviorist Theories
J. B. Watson founded the psychological school of behaviorism in 1913 based on his studies with animals. He argued that psychology was only concerned with behavior (DeMar, 1989), and that humans could be studied based solely on their actions.   Watson (1919), Smith and Guthrie (1921) and Dashiell (1928) provided a theoretical framework for the behaviorist methodology. They proposed that behavior should be evaluated in its own right, free of the relationship with consciousness. Skinner rejected Watson’s emphasis on reflexes and conditioning and argued that the mind (or consciousness) did exist but studying behavior, which is observable, would be of greater value.
The behaviorist school of thought argued that positive reinforcers such...