On Week Two we initiated our discussion on what motivates people. We connected general motivation principles with our previous knowledge on self-regulation and explained how implementing the four characteristics of successful students help you address motivation challenges.

At a minimum, this week you should be able to:

  • Describe three factors that influence motivation, and describe three ways to increase your motivation
  • Distinguish between self-confidence and self-efficacy
  • Describe barriers to self-confidence and self-efficacy–and how to overcome them

The following, are fundamental questions about motivation that we should ask and answer. Please remember that the goal is not just to memorize the answers to these and other questions. Real learning is achieved when you 1) know and understand the answers, 2) are capable of identifying meaningful applications for these concepts and 3) put them into practice on a regular basis.

Why isn’t every college student motivated?

  • We are motivated by our needs. It’s difficult to focus on higher level needs when other basic needs are not being satisfied. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs helps us understand this concept:
    • Biological and Physiological – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep
    • Safety – protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear.
    • Belonging – friendship, intimacy, affection and love, – from work group, family, friends, romantic relationships.
    • Esteem – achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, respect from others.
    • Self-realization – realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.

What factors influence motivation?

  • Goals – goals help us direct and focus our efforts
    • Mastery goals – focus on learning and understanding the material (leads to deep learning)
    • Performance – focus on achieving a specific (good) grade (not wrong, but be careful, it could lead to shallow learning)
  • Self-efficacy – your beliefs on your ability to succeed on a task
  • Effort – the amount of effort you put on a task directly affects your chances of succeeding on that task

How do you explain outcomes? What “causes” success or failure?

Under most circumstances, we feel the need to explain why we succeed or fail (attribution theory, causal explanations). Being successful requires assuming responsibility for our actions and for the outcomes of those actions. When developing and implementing strategies for success we must focus on conditions we can control and that are more likely to change through our efforts. Here are some concepts you need to master:

  • Internal Causes: Ability and Effort
  • External Causes: Task Difficulty, Luck, Help
  • Changeability vs. Controllability

What motivates people in the workplace?

Daniel Pink has been studying motivation in the workplace for a long time. On this video, The surprising truth about what motivates people, he analyzes the limited effect of the “carrots-and-sticks” motivation scheme. He also explains three factors that influence people to achieve great things (Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose). As a critical thinker ask yourself, what is the relationship between these concepts, the characteristics of successful students, and the factors that influence motivation?