October 25, 2016
Lecture 4 – Psychology in the Classroom
Part 1: Motivation in the Classroom
Prologue: Defining motivation = the “why” of beh
Eg: why are some students more persistent on the task? – It’s a question of motivation
Motivation: A psychological state that influences goal-direct beh
Three types of influences:
1. Activates the beh (causes it to begin). Eg: student says I can’t wait to begin this project – more
motivated than another student who procrastinates.
2. Sustains the beh (keeps it going). Eg: a student who continues to work on a task even in the face
of obstacles compared to another student who gives up on the task
3. Regulates the beh (involves developing plans and strategies for achieving the goal). Eg: a
student who says I’m ready to begin and I have a plan of what to do, is more motivated than a
student who has no plans and where to begin.
Where does motivation come from?
Perspectives on Motivation
A. The Behavioural Perspective
Behavior is controlled by its consequences (eg: rewards and punishments)
Can control motivation by controlling the consequences of beh.
o Reward desired beh (to increase motivation)
o Punish undesired beh (to decrease motivation)
Interlude: The problem with using rewards to increase motivation
First demonstrated with kids who liked playing with “magic marker” pens
Phase 1: kids randomly assigned to one of the 3 groups:
o Grp 1: expected “Good Player Award” (external reward) for drawing a picture with pens
o Group 2: unexpectedly received the award after drawing a picture (not external reward)
o Group 3: didn’t receive any award
Phase 2: Reward is removed during free-play (drawing with magic pens are included as well)
Question: How long would the kids play with the magic marker pens during free-play period?
Results: Group 1 spent half as much time playing with the pens
Expected rewards undermined intrinsic motivation to continue the activity (when the rewards
were subsequently removed). Group 1’s thinking: rewarded for playing with the pen; now they
don’t get motivated to play with the pens b/c not given award; unless another reward is given.
Eg: assigning the grades in the course – is it possible that the reason to go to class is to get grades?
Guidelines when using rewards:
1. If intrinsic motivation is low, rewards can at least increase motivation until the end of course.
2. Assuming intrinsic motivation is high, use rewards selectively:
Rewards can increase intrinsic motivation when given for quality of performance (eg: “a job
well done”), rather than for mere performance of beh. Eg1: group 1 kids weren’t given
rewards for how good the pictures were; just rewarded for mere performance of beh. Eg2:
you don’t get high grades for just showing up but for working hard and job well done.
B. The Cognitive Perspectives:
1. Expectancy x Value Theory. Motivation is influenced by 2 cognitions:
(I) Expectancy of achieving goal
(ii) Value of goal
If BOTH are high, person will be motivated to achieve goal.
If either is low, motivation will be low.
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