Motivation and education perfomance

Friday, September 01, 2006

Improving Motivation

DeCharms (1984) reports on one ten-week training unit designed to emphasize four major concepts: (a) the self-concept, (b) achievement motivation, (c) realistic goal setting, and (d) the origin-pawn concept. The last goal was important in that students and teachers were taught to see themselves as "origins" (people who can take responsibility and control outcome) as opposed to "pawns" (people who cannot take responsibility and whose outcome is controlled by others). The trained students were compared with a control group who did not receive any training. Results significantly favored the trained group on composite scores of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. The trained students also had fewer absences and less tardiness. DeCharms has conducted other studies to train teachers to see themselves as origins instead of pawns. The most important thing a teacher can do to maximize motivation in educational settings, according to deCharms, is to believe that all students can be origins.

A program developed by McCombs (1982) attempts to develop motivation not only by changing students' attributions to internal causes like effort, but also by teaching cognitive strategies and metacognitive skills. As students become more adept at the management of these skills and strategies (as they learn more about learning) it follows that they will also begin to realise that they can exercise a great deal of control over learning and achievement—that it isn't just a matter of luck and faith. In most school related tasks, luck should have little bearing on performance. Teachers can exercise some control over the other three major categories to which performance outcomes can be attributed (effort, ability, and task difficulty), but luck can only be left to chance.

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