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Motivation and Learning

Motivation is an internal drive that helps students to learn and succeed. It is important to help students try, inquire and develop their knowledge and abilities.  When students are motivated, they can do many things to achieve a goal. Motivation develops the need for exploration, inquiry and stimulates new knowledge and skills.

According to many theorists, motivation has a primary influence on learning. The change in students' behaviors including performance, perception, emotion, cognitive and physical abilities and personality are all influenced by motivation. For instance, Marion Williams and Richard Burden assume that motivation provokes the ‘decision to act’ which goes along with the cognitive and physical effort in order to achieve the learning goals (Williams and Burden, 1997). The value of the outcome the student wishes to achieve depends on the degree of their motivation. Unlike adults who have clearly defined goals about what they want to learn and achieve, children and adolescents may not have clear goals. Even if their goals are vague, they may still be powerful.

There are two types of motivation. The first type comes from the outside and can be caused by many factors including the need to get good grades, the desire to have financial rewards, the hope to find a good job and more. This type of motivation is called extrinsic motivation. By contrast, the second type is called intrinsic motivation. It comes from within the individual. It is nurtured by the pleasure that one’s get from learning, acquiring new skills and improving oneself.

Obviously, the teacher is a major factor in their students’ motivation level. Every student has a certain degree of motivation but the teacher's behavior and teaching style, the structure of the course, the nature of the assignments and informal interactions with students all have a large effect on student motivation. The teacher should encourage students to be involved in the learning process and take the responsibility of their own learning. Therefore, the teacher has a great role in initiation and sustaining motivation. When students are motivated, they are clearly interested in the subjects they are studying and the topics they are presented with.

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