Psychology in the classroom
Part 1: Motivation in the classroom => the why of behavior
Motivation is a psychological state that “influences” goal-directed behavior
Activates the behavior (causes it to begin “I can’t wait to start this group project”)
Sustains the behavior (keeps it going)
Regulates the behavior (involves plans and strategies for achieving the goal )
Behavior is controlled by its consequences (e.g. rewards increase mot and punishments decrease
The problem with rewards to increase motivation: The first demonstration (with kids who liked
playing with “magic maker” pens)
The study has two phases:
- Phase 1: assigned to one of three groups:
Group 1: Expected a “good player award” for drawing a picture with pens
Group 2: Unexpectedly received the award after drawing a picture
Group 3: didn’t receive any award
- Phase 2: Reward is removed during free-play
Results: Group 1 spent half as much time playing with the pens comparing to the others to groups
=> Expected rewards undermined intrinsic motivation to continue the activity (when the rewards
So this research gives some guidelines when using rewards:
1. If intrinsic motivation is low, rewards can at least increase motivation until the end of the
2. If intrinsic motivation is high, use rewards selectively:
- Rewards can increase intrinsic motivation when given for quality of performance (e.g. “a
job well done”), rather than for mere performance of behavior.
But what about student who didn’t do really well at this exam for example? The psychologists wants
to know what is the feeling after success or failure!
The cognitive perspective(s):
1. Expectancy x value theories: motivation is influenced by two cognitions:
- The expectancy of achieving goal
- Value of the goal
If both are high, the person will be motivated to achieve the goal.
- If either is low, motivation will be low
2. Bandura’s self-efficacy theory:
- People must believe they have the ability to achieve goals (high self-efficacy)
The sources of self-efficacy = where the self-efficacy comes from:
Mastery experiences (our past experiences with success or failure) lead to a high self-efficacy
Vicarious experiences (performance of “models” who are similar to us)
Interpretation of our emotional arousal (is it “anxiety” or “excitement”) (before an exam I feel
fear/ before an exam I feel excited)! Social persuasion (others provide pep-talks, e.g. “you can do it”)
- Self-efficacy os also influenced by goals we set four ourselves:
If too easy, high efficacy (but won’t learn much)
If too difficult, won’t be achieved (undermines “mastery” and self-efficacy)
In this regard, teachers can help appropriate goals: e.g.
. “Moderately” difficult (challenging, but obtainable in reasonable time)
. Clear performance standards (so students can see if goal was achieved)
This clear performance standards helps student to learn what they are doing right and wrong
3. The attributional approach (how we explain our past behavior)
- Motivation depends on the attributions (causal inferences) for past success and failure.
(Why I had failed this exam??)
. Three causal dimensions:
Causal locus: internal (something about person “I haven’t the abilities”) versus external
(something about situation “it’s not my fault”). They are not directly related to
motivation but they strongly influence “self-esteem” (not motivation)
Stability dimension: stable (not likely to change) versus unstable (can change overtime)
it influences “future expectations” of success and failure.
Controllability: can control versus can’t control!
The controllability influences perceived “self-efficacy”.
- Motivational problems when failures are attributed to stable and uncontrollable causes.
E.g. Student 1: “I am stupid” also internal, so a low self-esteem
Student 2: “Task will always be too difficult, I will never able to do this” (external so no effect on self-
For The both students the motivation to succeed will be low. This students will be less likely to seek
- Students can be taught to change their attributions (e.g. “Maybe I didn’t study hard
enough”, internal, unstable, controllable cause.
. The motivation to succeed will be higher than before.
Part 2: Teacher expectancy effects (self-fulfilling prophecies)
A. MERTON (1948): “the self-fulfilling prophecies is a false definition of the situation, evoking a
new behavior, which makes the originally false definition come true”
( comme entendre qu’un banque va faire faillite et aller retirer tout son argent le plus rapidement
B. Rosenthal &Jacobson (1968) :
- The student’s good behavior causes the teacher’s expectancies or
- It’s possible that the teacher’s high expectancies cause the student’s behavior (the fact
that they are doing well).
To find out: elementary school teachers told that, based on results of new IQ test from Harvard (HTIA)
some of their students were on the verge of an intellectual “growth spurt”. But this information was