Psychology 2990A/B Lecture Notes - Motivation, Controllability, Competitive Learning
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Chapter 5 lecture notes: Education psychology
Psychology in the Classroom
Part 1: Motivation in the Classroom
Prologue: Defining motivation: (the “why” of behaviours)
A psychological state that “influences” goal-directed behaviours
Three types of influences:
-Activates the behaviours (causes it to begin)
-Sustains the behaviours (keeps it going)
-Regulates the behaviours (involved plans and strategies for achieving the goal)
Perspectives on Motivation
A. The Behavioural Perspective
-behaviour is controlled by its consequences (E.g. rewards and punishments)
-suggests we can control motivation by controlling the consequences of behaviour
-reward desired behavior (to increase motivation)
-punish undesired behaviour (to decrease motivation)
Interlude: the problem with rewards to increase motivation
The first demonstration with kids who liked playing with ”magic marker” pens.
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 spends half as much time playing with the pens compared to the other
- expected rewards for engaging in the fun activity (all the kids enjoyed it)
undermined intrinsic motivation to continue the activity (when the rewards were
- No reward = no longer motivated to play with the pens (only for participants in
group 1 who had recievd these rewards in the beginning)
- Eg: students might only be reading or coming to class because they expect a
reward or they might be getting a reward for attendance.
Other research has found otherwise as well and they rewarding is okay.
Guidelines when using rewards:
- most students are intrinsic motivators
1. if intrinsic motivation is low, rewards can at least increase motivation until the
end of course.
2. Assuming that some students are actually interested and motivated (intrinsic
motivation) If int mot is high, use rewards selectively:
- rewards can increase intrinsic motivation when given for QUALITY of
performance (eg: a job well done”) rather than for more performance of behavior.
EG: in the study above, kids were given a reward to draw ANY picture.
- Eg: students who get high grades will continue to read and study - b/c they like it.
- Vs. getting a low grade can undermine in intrinsic motivation . Solution??
- Need to find out what are they thinking about after a failure or success??
B. Cognitive perspectives (what ppl are thinking about after their success and
1. expectancy * value theories – motivation Is influenced by two cognitions:
- Expectancy of achieving a goal
- Value of the goal
- If both are high, the person will be motivated to achieve goal.
- If either is low, motivation will be low
2. Bandura’s self-efficacy theory
a. People must believe they have the ability to achieve goals (high self-efficacy)
- sources of self-efficacy:
- mastery experiences (our pat experiences with success or failure) – can we do or
not do it. Eg: if have always gotten Bs in past course, you can confidently predict
that you will be getting a B in a new course.
- vicarious experiences (performance of “models” who are similar to us) Eg: if that
person can get a B, then I can get a B as well – modeling!
- interpretation of our emotional arousal (is it “anxiety” or excitement”?) – not all
student express their arousal the same way. The more anxious we get – it is
undermined and excitement – increases self-efficacy.
- social persuasion (others provide pep-talks, eg: “you can do it”).
b. Self-efficacy is also influenced by goals we set for ourselves
- if too easy, high efficacy (but wont learn much)
- if too difficult, wont be achieved (undermines “master” and self-efficacy).
- Teachers can help set appropriate goals. Eg;
- “moderately” difficult (challenging, but obtainable in a reasonable time)
- clear performance standards (so students can see if goal was achieved) Eg: tell the
class, get at least 60% in a course.
- also helps students learn what they are doing right and wrong (increases
3. The attritional approach
- how we have explained our past behavior?
a. Motivation depends on attributions (casual inferences) for past success and
b. Three casual dimensions:
1. casual locus : internal (something about person) vs. external (something