In one sense, motivation is the process of arousing, maintaining and controlling interest in a situation. In another sense, motivation is a general term used to describe the conditions or factors which activate and direct behaviours towards particular goals.
Educationally, motivation is concerned with the volition or will that pupils bring to a task, their level of interest, the personally held goals that guide their behaviour, and their belief about the causes of their success or failure.
As a teacher, it is important to possess the skill and attitude of motivation. Motivating your students goes a long way to help learners achieve greater academic heights. Before we look at the various ways motivation helps students and boosts education in general, let us consider some theories of motivation.
These explain how pupils’ goals affect the way they engage with academic tasks. They are: mastery goals, performance approach goals, and performance avoidance goals.
- a) Mastery goals
These are pupils who strive to increase their ability and knowledge. They are associated with many positive outcomes such as persistence in the face of failure, preference for challenging tasks, and creativity.
- b) Performance Approach goals
These are pupils who strive for high grades and seek opportunities to demonstrate their abilities. They are associated with positive outcomes, and some negative outcomes Such as an unwillingness to seek help and shallow information processing.
- c) Performance Avoidance goals
These pupils are driven by fear of failure and avoid situations where their abilities are exposed. They are associated with negative outcomes such as poor concentration while studying, disorganizing studying, less self-regulation, shallow information processing and test anxiety.
As a teacher, you need information on these theories of motivation in order to know the category each learner at your disposal fits in. Also, it guides you to know the type of motivation to give a particular learner, depending on his or her learning or motivational characteristics exposed by the theories of motivation above. With this knowledge in mind, let us consider the types of motivation we have.
Types of motivation
There are two types of motivation- intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors.
These come from within the person. Some are:
- a) inborn patterns of behaviour such as curiosity and anxiety.
- b) biological needs- the needs for food, water, rest etc.
- c) physiological needs- for safety, social recognition, love etc.
- d) Cognitive needs- the needs for knowledge and understanding.
These come from outside the person or are externally imposed. They include rewards, competition conditions, nature of school administration, teacher’s information, feedback, tests and examinations, home personality etc.
To have better understanding, two of these are discussed here.
Rewards are extrinsic motivations designed to influence behavior. They are often called incentives. Incentives can be either positive or negative. Positive incentives are the different forms of praises which are non-material. On the other hand, material rewards are physical in nature. Examples of material rewards are prizes in the forms of books, money, sweets etc. The negative incentives are blames or reproach and other forms of punishment.
Both positive and negative rewards have their merits and demerits. It is therefore important to know how to use each of them to get the best outcome. Here are some best ways to use these types of rewards.
When and how to use rewards
Of primary concern in this context are positive, incentives or rewards for example, praise. If praise is administered constantly over a period of time, it loses much of its effectiveness. In addition, how effective it is depends a great deal on the personality of the person who administers it. Thus, rewards should be used sparingly.
They should be given for an effort sustained for a long time rather than a single meritorious performance and tor those who actually deserve them. Do not train pupils to expect rewards for all good behaviour showed or good work done. It should be noted that rewards are also reinforcers of behaviour or activity.
Rewards are good when they help to motivate pupils or increase the probability of repeating the response approved upon. Rewards are also advised when they generate interest and enthusiasm in pupils, and appeal to ego maximization and the development of high morale.
The use of rewards at times might lead to cheat, temptations, encourage wrong attitudes in pupils; create unnecessary competition and jealousy or selfishness.
Types of Rewards
Rewards are of two types: material (books, money, etc.) and non-material (praise, promotion, etc.) It is seen that rewards such as praise, gifts and verbal rewards such as the more saying of ‘good or “excellent to pupils when they give correct responses, motivate them to work harder and with enthusiasm. But too much use of rewards reduces their value and effectiveness.
- Information feedbacks
This is providing learners with the knowledge of the results of their performance on an activity.
It is found that when pupils work without knowledge of results of their performance on an activity, they tail to show any improvement and do not work harder and with pleasure. On the other hand, when they are provided with information feedback, they improve rapidly and work enthusiastically. This is because it motivates pupils to find their work more interesting and so work with enthusiasm. Also pupils who know they performed well make effort to repeat their performance or to perform more satisfactorily on subsequent task while those who performed poorly make effort to improve their performance on subsequent tasks.
Let us now look at how important motivation is, especially when applied to the learner.
Role of motivation in learning
Motivation of pupils is one of the most important principles of teaching. The success of a teacher is, to a very large extent, dependent upon his/her ability to motivate pupils effectively. Without motivation, there cannot be any effective learning. With it, pupils cannot be prevented from learning. The following are summary of what motivation does in education.
- It enables the teacher to secure the attention and participation of his/ her class in the lessons.
- It helps to maintain class discipline. When pupils are actively involved in a lesson, they do not disturb.
- It enhances responsibility, for example, the need for achievements, encourages pupils to learn on their own accord at home during vacation and in the school after classes.
- It offsets fatigue and boredom.
- It enables each pupil to develop his/her potentiality, that is, the need for self-actualization.
- It activates pupils continued pursuit for knowledge e.g. the need for social recognition; activates pupils to learn harder for tests and examinations.
- It enhances punctuality. For example, the desire for achievement motivates pupils to attend class on time in order not to miss lessons.
- It helps pupils to direct their full energy towards learning.
After realizing the importance or role of motivation among learners and education as a whole, we now have to abreast ourselves with how to carry it out to achieve maximum outcome.
How to motivate pupils
The success of a teacher is, to a large extent dependent upon his/ her ability to motivate nis/her pupils.
The following are some suggestions for doing that.
- Give pupils opportunity to participate actively in lessons.
- Relate curricular programs to the needs and aptitudes of pupils.
- Make schoolwork real and concrete by using suitable and adequate teaching aids.
- Recognize and praise good performance.
- Provide pupils with information feedbacks on their activity.
- Introduce competition and games occasionally in class work to arouse learners’ interest in it.
- Give pupils activities and exercises that are related to their developmental status and abilities.
- Ensure that school work is progressive in nature and build on earlier work thereby giving them the awareness that they are progressing.
- Ensure that pupils achieve some degrees of success in their activities.
- Make allowance for individual differences.
- Establish good teacher-pupil relationship.