This chapter has discussed strategies for enticing individuals or groups of learners to actively pursue instructional outcomes. The major principles related to motivation, problems posed by these principles, and solutions to these problems are summarized in Table 5.4. While motivation is not the only factor necessary in order for learning to take place, it is also true that without sufficient motivation, not much learning is likely to occur.



Table 5.4. Principles of Motivation and Problems That Interfere with the Application of These Principles.


Practical Problems snd Solutions

1. It is better to rely on intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation.

Only consequences that the learner himself or herself perceives to be reinforcing will motivate that learner.

  • Work to understand the perspective of the learner through communication and rapport.

Teacher may not have control of intrinsic motivators.

  • Understand and apply principles of personality and developmental psychology.

Intrinsic motivator may not currently be of interest to the learner.

  • Work to gain control through communication and rapport.
  • Seek help from others who do control intrinsic motivators.
  • Promote self motivation.
  • Clarify and demonstrate the intrinsic value of the outcome.
  • State learning outcomes in specific, behavioral terms.
  • Use prestigious models.
  • Foster affective attachment to the outcome.
  • Understand and promote developmental principles.
  • Use artificial incentives until intrinsic incentives become possible.

2. When natural consequences are not available, it is often necessary to use artificial consequences to motivate learners.

Artificial motivators run counter to the previous principle.


  • Use artificial reinforcers that are as close to natural as possible.
  • Back up artificial reinforcers with natural reinforcers.

Teacher may not know of or have control over effective artificial reinforcers.

  • Work to gain control of natural reinforcers through communication and rapport.
  • Seek help from others who do control extrinsic motivators.
  • Promote self-motivation.

3. Human beings have brains and personalities that make their motivations extremely complicated.

Teacher may not understand the complexity of the thoughts and feelings of students.

  • Foster understanding through communication and rapport.
  • Develop cultural and multicultural familiarity.

Various aspects of intellect and personality conflict with one another and with desired outcomes.

  • Understand and apply principles of attribution theory.
  • Understand and apply principles of achievement motivation.
  • Seek input from experts who do understand more than you do.
  • (See next principle and guidelines.)

4. There are numerous incentives and consequences competing for a learner's attention at any given time.

Competing outcomes may distract learner from desired outcome.

  • Remove competing outcomes.
  • Reduce incentive value of competing outcomes.
  • Increase incentive value of desired outcome.
  • Remove competing outcomes.

Learner may actually be motivated more by a competing, undesirable outcome.

  • Apply disincentives for competing outcomes.
  • Increase incentive value of desired outcome.

5. Social interactions with others influence the motivation of learners.

Interactions with other students may detract from motivation.

  • Understand and apply the principles of group dynamics.
  • Develop positive group atmosphere through communication and rapport
  • Solicit help from other students.
  • Employ cooperative learning.
  • Use competition and recognition effectively.
  • Communicate and establish rapport with the family of the learner.

Interactions with environment outside learning situation may detract from motivation.

  • Develop cultural and multicultural familiarity.

Interactions with teacher may detract from learning.

  • Avoid accidental misapplications of principles of behavior modification.
  • Avoid negative expectancies.
  • Develop positive expectancies.

6. Physiological factors influence motivation.

Excessively low level of arousal may interfere with tendency to learn.

  • Use variety in presentations.
  • Use high interest material in presentations.
  • Use humor in presentations.
  • Avoid psychological states related to low levels of arousal (tiredness, digestion after meals, warm rooms, etc.)

Excessively high level of arousal may interfere with tendency to learn.

  • Emphasize familiar routines and elements that are constant.
  • Refrain from introducing topics or information that may arouse anxiety.
  • Use desensitization or other techniques to reduce anxiety.
  • Avoid information overload.


This overview has shown that motivation consists of individual and interpersonal factors that stimulate learners to action. The individual factors include challenge (where the learner is motivated to attain a goal), curiosity (where the learner is motivated by a physical stimulus or by a cognitive discrepancy), control (where the learner is motivated by the need to be in control of his/her environment), and fantasy (where learners are motivated by mental images of situations not actually present). The interpersonal factors include competition (where the learner is motivated by comparisons with other learners), cooperation (where the learner is motivated by an urge to help others perform productively), and recognition (where the learner is motivated by having others appreciate his/her accomplishments). These factors operate alone and in combination to stimulate and inhibit behavior, and teachers can make learning environments more motivating by incorporating more of these factors into instructional settings.

This chapter has also described the relationship between the principles of behavior modification and the motivation of learners. This chapter has also shown how motivation is related to affective and personality characteristics, such as the needs and self-esteem of the learner.

Important cognitive aspects of motivation were also examined in this chapter. Most importantly, this chapter has discussed attribution theory, which interprets motivation in terms of the explanations learners give for their successes and failures. The chapter suggests several guidelines for helping students develop productive attributions that are likely to stimulate further intellectual activity.

Finally, this chapter has examined the impact of teacher expectancy on the behavior of learners. Teacher expectancies sometimes lead to self-fulfilling prophecies, by which teachers inappropriately treat students in selective or discriminative manners based on what they expect those students to be capable of doing. When teachers have preconceived notions that learners are likely to be unsuccessful, the result is often that they treat these learners in such a way as to lead to inferior outcomes. The chapter suggests ways to minimize the harmful impacts of negative teacher expectancy.

By following the guidelines discussed in this chapter, teachers can develop environments that are likely to stimulate learners to want to learn. By integrating these guidelines with those discussed throughout the rest of this book, teachers can stimulate learners to successful learning.


Click on a topic from the following list, or use your web browser to go where you want to go:

Intrinsic Motivation
Interpersonal Motivation
Summary of Intrinsic Motivation
Motivating Through Curriculum
Reinforcement and Punishment
Affective Aspects of Motivation
Physiological Aspects of Motivation
Cognitive Aspects of Motivation
Needs and Motivation
Attribution Theory
Development and Motivation
Motivation as a Personality Characteristic
Teacher Expectancy
Social Aspects of Motivation: Classroom Structure
What Teachers Can Do About Motivation
What Parents Can Do About Motivation
What Students Can Do About Motivation
Chapter Summary <<You are here>>
Annotated Bibliography
Answers to Quizzes