Education Motivation
Birgit Spinath
  • LAST REVIEWED: 29 July 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 13 January 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0059


Motivation is the inner force that energizes and directs behavior. Without motivation there is no behavior, and there is no behavior without motivation. Motivation is important in educational contexts because it is a prerequisite for learning and achievement. Much of the theoretical and empirical literature focuses on the questions of how motivation relates to learning and achievement and how both can be improved by enhanced motivation. To understand these processes, much attention is paid to changes in motivation during individual development. But motivation is also a desired outcome of educational processes in itself. In times of lifelong learning, it might be even more important to engender intrinsic motivation and competence beliefs in a certain domain than to convey specific knowledge. The knowledge might become outdated and will be renewed only if there is a sustainable motivation to learn. These examples illustrate that motivation to learn is the most important kind of motivation in educational contexts. Therefore, most of the empirical literature and also this article deal with learning and achievement motivation. Of course, there are also other kinds of motivation (e.g., the need for affiliation) that play a role in educational contexts. Because these kinds of motivation are rooted in different theories and focus on different outcomes, it is beyond the scope of this article to cover all kinds of motivation relevant for education. Since the body of motivation literature is so large, it is especially worthwhile to try to give guidance to interested novices. This article tries to indicate sources that had an especially strong impact. It focuses on recent literature rather than classic readings. Because the literature is so enormous, it is inevitable that not all strands of work and not all important literature can be named.

General Overviews

There are several editorial works and review articles that provide general overviews of motivational theories and research. These overviews are meant for scientific audiences, including both students and researchers, and are written by distinguished scholars. Eccles and Wigfield 2002 reviews the most-influential motivation theories within the contexts of development and education. It suggests an expectancy-value scheme to systemize theoretical approaches. Elliot and Dweck 2005 unites the views of leading motivation researchers under the perspective that humans are motivated by an innate need to experience themselves as competent. Reexamining theoretical approaches under a common, functional perspective is one way to integrate different research traditions. Murphy and Alexander 2000 also aims at generating order among the many approaches to motivation. In their review, the authors systemize and define the confusingly vast amount of motivational constructs and use their scheme for further analyses of different approaches. Wentzel and Wigfield 2009 is the first comprehensive book on motivation in school settings that goes beyond achievement motivation. These authors open up their spectrum to look both at different kinds of motivation (e.g., social goals) and at different kinds of outcomes (e.g., well-being). The authors of Wigfield and Eccles 2002 invited prominent scholars to describe the development of different aspects of motivation. Moreover, these authors analyze how instruction influences motivation.

  • Eccles, J. S., and A. Wigfield. 2002. Motivational beliefs, values, and goals. Annual Review of Psychology 53:109–132.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.psych.53.100901.135153Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In this review, the most-influential motivation theories for development and education are presented along an expectancy-value-focused scheme. The authors discuss how to integrate theories of self-regulation and expectancy-value models of motivation and suggest new directions for future research.

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  • Elliot, A. J., and C. S. Dweck, eds. 2005. Handbook of competence and motivation. New York: Guilford.

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    This edited work relies on the premise that humans are motivated by an innate need for competence that enables them to adapt to their environment. The most-fruitful motivational constructs are reexamined under this perspective, and directions for future research are outlined.

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  • Murphy, P. K., and P. A. Alexander. 2000. A motivated exploration of motivation terminology. Contemporary Educational Psychology 25.1: 3–53.

    DOI: 10.1006/ceps.1999.1019Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This review identifies central constructs within literature on achievement motivation, with the aim to systemize and define them. Building on this organizing scheme, the authors point at aspects that are specific for the theoretical and research approaches associated with different motivational constructs.

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  • Wentzel, K. R., and A. Wigfield, eds. 2009. Handbook of motivation at school. Educational Psychology Handbook. New York: Routledge.

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    This edited work gives an overview of the most-important motivation theories for school settings in the early 21st century and looks at social and contextual influences on motivation. Moreover, it shows how motivation can be used to improve teaching and learning at school.

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  • Wigfield, A., and J. S. Eccles, eds. 2002. Development of achievement motivation. Educational Psychology. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

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    This edited work discusses research and theory on changes in several different motivational constructs during early individual development. Special emphasis is put on gender differences in motivation and on motivational differences as an aspect of ethnicity.

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There are several textbooks on motivation in educational contexts that address students and teachers who are interested in translating theory into practice. These books introduce the reader to the most-important theoretical and empirical foundations in the field and provide examples for applications. The books selected here have been written by eminent researchers who have contributed to a great extent to the theoretical and empirical literature. Brophy 2010 focuses on motivational principles that are useful for teachers and explains how to make use of motivational knowledge in the classroom. Schunk, et al. 2008 gives a balanced overview of the most-prominent motivation theories in education. These authors emphasize the role of personal cognitions and beliefs during teaching and learning. Stipek 2002 leads the reader through the most-important theoretical approaches and shows how to apply theoretical knowledge in classrooms. Special emphasis is put on individual development of motivation.

  • Brophy, J. E. 2010. Motivating students to learn. 3d ed. New York: Routledge.

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    This book addresses teachers and describes research-based principles for motivating students to learn. It introduces motivational concepts from different theoretical backgrounds and takes expectancy-value theory as an organizing scheme when introducing motivational principles. First published in 1997 (London: McGraw-Hill).

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  • Schunk, D. H., P. R. Pintrich, and J. L. Meece. 2008. Motivation in education: Theory, research, and applications. 3d ed. Columbus, OH: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.

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    This book presents major motivational theories, principles, and research findings in sufficient detail to help students understand the complexity of motivational processes. It also provides examples of motivational concepts and principles applied to educational settings.

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  • Stipek, D. J. 2002. Motivation to learn: Integrating theory and practice. 4th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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    This book integrates theory and research in motivation and applies them to classroom practice. It can be used by teachers to improve their own classroom practices or it might be read with students in psychology, education, or teacher preparation classes. Originally published in 1988 with the subtitle From Theory to Practice (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall).

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Theories of Learning and Achievement Motivation

This section introduces five of the most prominent theories and constructs that explain motivation in learning and achievement contexts. These five are Achievement Goal Theory, Expectancy-Value Theory, Self-Determination Theory, Interest, and Self-Efficacy. Because the literature on motivation is so rich, not all important strands of research can be covered here.

Achievement Goal Theory

Beginning in the 1980s, goal theories have gained enormous importance in motivational and educational research. Goal theories rely on the assumption that cognitive representations about desired results or states in the future are crucial to understand human cognition, emotion, and behavior. The beginnings of achievement goal theory can be traced back to at least three different researchers who distinguished between the goal to enlarge one’s competence and the goal to demonstrate competence. Nicholls 1984 identifies these goals as task versus ego orientation, Dweck 1986 deals with learning and performance goals, and Ames 1992 addresses mastery and performance goals. In one of the first major summaries on goal theories in education, Covington 2000 delineates how goal theories evolved from theories based on motives, and gives an overview on early goal approaches in education. In another influential review, Meece, et al. 2006 focuses on the dichotomy between the goal to enlarge one’s competence (learning or mastery goal) and the goal to demonstrate one’s competence (performance goal). These authors review literature on how these two goals are associated with students’ outcomes in classrooms. Going beyond the initial dichotomy between learning and performance goals, further differentiations have been introduced. In particular, the trichotomous goal framework introduced in Elliot and Harackiewicz 1996 and the 2x2 goal framework introduced in Elliot and McGregor 2001 have inspired much research. The concept of performance-approach goals has spawned especially fruitful theoretical debates; for example, Brophy 2005 suggests avoiding defining goals in terms of social comparison and also suggests the term “outcome goals” as an alternative.

  • Ames, C. 1992. Classrooms: Goals, structures, and student motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology 84.3: 261–271.

    DOI: 10.1037/0022-0663.84.3.261Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Ames is one of the first researchers to distinguish two goals in achievement contexts; she named them mastery and performance goals. In this article, Ames describes how classroom structures make different types of achievement goals salient and how these structures affect students’ patterns of motivation.

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  • Brophy, J. 2005. Goal theorists should move on from performance goals. Educational Psychologist 40.3: 167–176.

    DOI: 10.1207/s15326985ep4003_3Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The author analyzes the literature on performance-approach goals and draws the conclusion that social comparison is a dangerous component rendering individuals vulnerable to motivational impairment. He suggests characterizing these goals as outcome goals and recommends avoiding defining them in terms that imply competition.

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  • Covington, M. V. 2000. Goal theory, motivation, and school achievement: An integrative review. Annual Review of Psychology 51:171–200.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.psych.51.1.171Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This overview documents theoretical approaches and empirical findings from an early stage of goal theories. It outlines the importance of social and academic goals for school-related behavior, as well as their interaction with classroom reward structure.

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  • Dweck, C. S. 1986. Motivational processes affecting learning. American Psychologist 41.10: 1040–1048.

    DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.41.10.1040Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In this article, Dweck outlines her theory according to which students’ goals influence their behavior in the face of failure or difficulties. According to Dweck, when confronted with failure, persons with performance goals and low self-perceptions of ability are prone to show maladaptive (i.e., helpless) behavior, whereas persons with learning goals and low self-perceptions of ability are more likely to show adaptive behavior and to overcome difficulties.

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  • Elliot, A. J., and J. M. Harackiewicz. 1996. Approach and avoidance achievement goals and intrinsic motivation: A mediational analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 70.3: 461–475.

    DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.70.3.461Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In this article, the influential trichotomous goal framework, partitioning performance goals into independent approach and avoidance goals, was introduced. Data from two experimental studies were used to support the new model. This paper has inspired a turning point in goal theory.

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  • Elliot, A. J., and H. A. McGregor. 2001. A 2x2 achievement goal framework. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 80.3: 501–519.

    DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.80.3.501Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In this article, going beyond the trichotomous goal framework, the distinction between approach and avoidance is also applied to mastery goals. Thus, the 2x2 achievement goal framework considers mastery-approach, mastery-avoidance, performance-approach, and performance-avoidance goals. Data from three studies were used to support the new model.

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  • Meece, J. L., E. M. Anderman, and L. H. Anderman. 2006. Classroom goal structure, student motivation, and academic achievement. Annual Review of Psychology 57:487–503.

    DOI: 10.1146/annurev.psych.56.091103.070258Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors examined how classroom and school environments influence students’ academic motivation and achievement. Taking a goal theory perspective, the authors outline why a focus on mastery goals is adaptive, whereas a focus on performance goals is detrimental.

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  • Nicholls, J. G. 1984. Achievement motivation: Conceptions of ability, subjective experience, task choice, and performance. Psychological Review 91.3: 328–346.

    DOI: 10.1037/0033-295X.91.3.328Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In this article, Nicholls outlines how different conceptions of success elicit different motivational orientations. Measuring success in terms of one’s own performance relative to others is connected to ego orientation, whereas measuring success as improvement of one’s own competence relative to temporal-individual or criterion-based standards should generate task orientation.

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Expectancy-Value Theory

Another very influential achievement motivation theory is the expectancy-value model by Eccles, Wigfield, and their colleagues. The initial model was outlined in Eccles Parsons, et al. 1983. A more recent general overview of this model and related research is provided in Wigfield and Eccles 2000. The Eccles model holds that the most-proximal determinants of achievement-related behavior are expectancies for future success and the values ascribed to a task. The constructs of task values and ability self-concepts are described in detail in Eccles and Wigfield 1995. Research based on expectancy-value theory is especially concerned with the questions of how motivation develops and how this development is influenced by environmental factors. Fredricks and Eccles 2002 and Jacobs, et al. 2002 are representative examples of research papers reporting on longitudinal studies based on expectancy-value theory. This research shows characteristic trajectories of students’ school-related motivation as well as gender differences and school domains. As environmental factors, the theorizing puts emphasis on the role of socializers and institutions such as schools for children’s development. A representative example of research investigating the role of parents on children’s motivation is Frome and Eccles 1998. To describe the influence of school environments on individual development, Eccles proposed a theory of stage-environment fit, which is outlined in Eccles, et al. 1993 and, more recently, in Eccles and Roeser 2009.

  • Eccles, J., T. F. Adler, R. Futterman, et al. 1983. Expectancies, values, and academic behaviors. In Achievement and achievement motives: Psychological and sociological approaches. Edited by J. T. Spence, 75–146. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman.

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    In this article, Eccles (Parsons) outlines her initial model of achievement-related behavior. The model describes the most-important influences on motivational variables, as well as the developmental origins of individual differences in motivation and its prerequisites. The term “expectancy-value” is used because expectations of success and values ascribed to tasks are the most-proximal determinants of achievement-related behavior.

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  • Eccles, J. S., C. Midgley, A. Wigfield, et al. 1993. Development during adolescence: The impact of stage-environment fit on young adolescents’ experiences in schools and in families. American Psychologist 48.2: 90–101.

    DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.48.2.90Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article advances the hypothesis that some of the negative psychological changes associated with adolescent development result from a mismatch between the needs of developing adolescents and the opportunities afforded them by their social environments. It provides examples of how this mismatch develops, depicting ways in which more-appropriate environments can be created.

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  • Eccles, J. S., and R. W. Roeser. 2009. Schools, academic motivation, and stage-environment fit. In Handbook of adolescent psychology. Vol 1, Individual bases of adolescent development. 3d ed. Edited by R. M. Lerner and L. Steinberg, 404–434. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

    DOI: 10.1002/9780470479193Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors discuss the ways in which schools influence adolescents’ social-emotional and behavioral development through organizational, social, and instructional processes. To illustrate the stage-environment fit approach, three examples are presented in detail.

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  • Eccles, J. S., and A. Wigfield. 1995. In the mind of the achiever: The structure of adolescents’ academic achievement-relatedbeliefs and self-perceptions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 21.3: 215–225.

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    This article lays the theoretical and empirical foundations for ability self-concepts and task values as the two most proximal determinants of achievement-related behavior according to expectancy-value theory. In a study with fifth through twelfth graders, dimensionality of and relations between adolescents’ ability beliefs and task values are investigated.

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  • Fredricks, J. A., and J. S. Eccles. 2002. Children’s competence and value beliefs from childhood through adolescence: Growth trajectories in two male-sex-typed domains. Developmental Psychology 38.4: 519–533.

    DOI: 10.1037/0012-1649.38.4.519Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article reports on a longitudinal study covering students’ motivational development from grades 1 to 12 in a cohort-sequential design. Using growth curve models, it is shown that competence beliefs in math and sports decline throughout the school years and that differences between boys’ and girls’ competence beliefs decline over time.

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  • Frome, P. M., and J. S. Eccles. 1998. Parents’ influence on children’s achievement-related perceptions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74.2: 435–452.

    DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.74.2.435Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This study investigated the relation between parents’ perceptions of their children and children’s self- and task perceptions in math and English. Results showed that parents’ perceptions are potential mediators of the relation between children’s grades and children’s self- and task perceptions in both domains. Parents’ perceptions were more strongly associated with children’s perceptions than were children’s own grades.

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  • Jacobs, J. E., S. Lanza, D. W. Osgood, J. S. Eccles, and A. Wigfield. 2002. Changes in children’s self-competence and values: Gender and domain differences across grades one through twelve. Child Development 73.2: 509–527.

    DOI: 10.1111/1467-8624.00421Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article reports on a longitudinal study covering students’ motivational development from grades 1 to 12 in a cohort-sequential design. It was shown, by using hierarchical linear modeling, that competence beliefs and task values declined with age, with the extent and rate of decline varying across domains.

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  • Wigfield, A., and J. S. Eccles. 2000. Expectancy–value theory of achievement motivation. Contemporary Educational Psychology 25.1: 68–81.

    DOI: 10.1006/ceps.1999.1015Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In this article, central constructs of the expectancy-value model, such as ability beliefs, expectancies for success, and the components of subjective task values, are defined and compared to those of related constructs from other theories. Research on the development of these constructs as well as on their relations to achievement is reviewed.

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Self-Determination Theory

Whereas goal theory and expectancy-value theory have especially been developed to explain achievement-related behavior, the area of applications for self-determination theory is much broader. Self-determination theory holds that three needs are central for understanding human behavior: the need for competence, for autonomy, and for relatedness. A general overview of self-determination theory is given in Deci and Ryan 1985 as well as in Ryan and Deci 2000a. The extent to which the basic needs are satisfied and to which people can act in line with their needs determines motivation. According to self-determination theory, intrinsic motivation is the most desirable kind of motivation. Intrinsically motivated people act in line with their needs and feel self-determined. Ryan and Deci 2000b revisits the concepts of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Cognitive-evaluation theory is a subtheory devoted to explaining intrinsic motivation and is also outlined in Deci and Ryan 1985 as well as in Ryan and Deci 2000a. One important focus of research on self-determination in education is how environmental factors either enhance or impede intrinsic motivation. Vansteenkiste, et al. 2006 reviews research on the effects of intrinsic versus extrinsic goal framings on achievement-related behavior. Much debate has been stirred about whether and under what conditions rewards undermine intrinsic motivation. The literature on this effect concerning education is reviewed in Deci, et al. 2001. An example of a study investigating the effects of parental styles on children’s intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is Gottfried, et al. 2009. The effects of teaching styles on student outcomes are examined in Soenens, et al. 2012. Deci 2009 applies self-determination theory in that the author examines factors that make school reforms successful.

  • Deci, E. L. 2009. Large-scale school reform as viewed from the self-determination theory perspective. Theory and Research in Education 7.2: 244–252.

    DOI: 10.1177/1477878509104329Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In this article, the author applies self-determination theory to predict what makes school reforms successful. An example of one comprehensive school reform, First Things First, is examined in detail.

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  • Deci, E. L., R. Koestner, and R. M. Ryan. 2001. Extrinsic rewards and intrinsic motivation in education: Reconsidered once again. Review of Educational Research 71.1: 1–27.

    DOI: 10.3102/00346543071001001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors review studies in educational contexts investigating the effects of rewards on intrinsic motivation. Results show that rewards have a substantial undermining effect.

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  • Deci, E. L., and R. M. Ryan. 1985. Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. Perspectives in Social Psychology. New York: Plenum.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4899-2271-7Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This book outlines the theoretical foundations of self-determination theory. Moreover, it indicates the wide range of applications and reviews corresponding research.

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  • Gottfried, A. E., G. A. Marcoulides, A. W. Gottfried, and P. H. Oliver. 2009. A latent curve model of parental motivational practices and developmental decline in math and science academic intrinsic motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology 101.3: 729–739.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0015084Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In a longitudinal study, the effects of parental motivational practices on children’s intrinsic motivation were investigated. Results indicated that parents’ task-intrinsic vs. task-extrinsic practices were systematically linked to children’s initial levels of motivation at age nine, as well as with motivational decline through age seventeen.

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  • Ryan, R. M., and E. L. Deci. 2000a. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology 25.1: 54–67.

    DOI: 10.1006/ceps.1999.1020Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In this review, the authors revisit the classic definitions of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, in light of new developments in research and theory. Extrinsic motivation is argued to vary considerably in its relative autonomy and thus can reflect either external control or true self-regulation.

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  • Ryan, R. M., and E. L. Deci. 2000b. Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist 55.1: 68–78.

    DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.68Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article outlines the theoretical foundations of self-determination theory. Moreover, it indicates the wide range of applications and reviews corresponding research.

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  • Soenens, B., E. Sierens, M. Vansteenkiste, F. Dochy, and L. Goossens. 2012. Psychologically controlling teaching: Examining outcomes, antecedents, and mediators. Journal of Educational Psychology 104.1: 108–120.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0025742Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This study investigated the effects of psychologically controlling teaching on students’ self-regulated learning and achievement outcomes. In a second study, individual and environmental antecedents of psychologically controlling teaching were investigated. Results showed that psychologically controlling teaching was related to students’ self-regulation and that both pressure from the school environment and pressure from teachers’ low relative autonomy were related to psychologically controlling teaching.

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  • Vansteenkiste, M., W. Lens, and E. L. Deci. 2006. Intrinsic versus extrinsic goal contents in self-determination theory: Another look at the quality of academic motivation. Educational Psychologist 41.1: 19–31.

    DOI: 10.1207/s15326985ep4101_4Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors review research investigating intrinsic versus extrinsic goals as frames for achievement-related behavior. Results show that intrinsic goal framing relative to extrinsic goal framing and no-goal framing produced deeper engagement in learning activities, better conceptual learning, and higher persistence at learning activities.

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Among motivational constructs, interest is probably the most intuitive one, which can be gathered from the fact that the term “interest” is used not only by researchers but also by lay persons to explain engagement and achievement. Although there are several different approaches of definitions, interest can be understood as a person-object relation that is characterized by positive cognitive and affective valuation. A general overview of the theoretical foundations of interest theory is given in Krapp 2007. Research puts great emphasis on understanding the development of interest in childhood and adolescence. Hidi and Renninger 2006 introduces a four-phase model of interest development. Dotterer, et al. 2009 is an example of a longitudinal study investigating the development of interest in different school domains. An example of a longitudinal investigation of the relationship among interest development, ability beliefs, and academic achievement is Denissen, et al. 2007. For the development of interest, the fulfillment of basic needs is hypothesized to play an important role. The theoretical background for this, as well as a literature review, is provided in Krapp 2005. Interest is an important construct to predict achievement-related choices, such as choice of courses of study and vocations. A meta-analysis in Su, et al. 2009 investigated the type and magnitude of gender differences in vocational interests. Integrative analyses of interest and other motivation constructs are provided in Wigfield and Cambria 2010 as well as in Hulleman, et al. 2008.

  • Denissen, J. J. A., N. R. Zarrett, and J. S. Eccles. 2007. I like to do it, I’m able, and I know I am: Longitudinal couplings between domain-specific achievement, self-concept, and interest. Child Development 78.2: 430–447.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2007.01007.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In a longitudinal design, the development of interest, self-concept, and academic achievement was analyzed in a sample of children in grades 1 to 12. Results show that individuals generally felt competent and interested in domains where they achieve well, and that they were interested in domains where they perceive their personal strengths.

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  • Dotterer, A. M., S. M. McHale, and A. C. Crouter. 2009. The development and correlates of academic interests from childhood through adolescence. Journal of Educational Psychology 101.2: 509–519.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0013987Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors investigated the developmental changes in school-related interests from age seven to eighteen, as well as the roles of school transitions and parental characteristics. Results revealed overall declines in interests over time, which were linked to parents’ educational expectations as well as to the transition to junior high school.

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  • Hidi, S., and K. A. Renninger. 2006. The four-phase model of interest development. Educational Psychologist 41.2: 111–127.

    DOI: 10.1207/s15326985ep4102_4Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors propose a four-phase model of interest development. The four phases in which interest is hypothesized to deepen are triggered situational interest, maintained situational interest, emerging (less developed) individual interest, and well-developed individual interest.

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  • Hulleman, C. S., A. M. Durik, S. B. Schweigert, and J. M. Harackiewicz. 2008. Task values, achievement goals, and interest: An integrative analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology 100.2: 398–416.

    DOI: 10.1037/0022-0663.100.2.398Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In an effort to integrate the theoretical perspectives of expectancy value, achievement goals, and interest, the authors examined the antecedents (initial interest, achievement goals) and consequences (interest, performance) of task values. Results indicated that in two learning contexts, initial interest and mastery goals predicted subsequent interest, and task values mediated these relationships.

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  • Krapp, A. 2005. Basic needs and the development of interest and intrinsic motivational orientations. In Special issue: Feelings and emotion in the learning process. Learning and Instruction 15.5: 381–395.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.learninstruc.2005.07.007Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The author outlines why the satisfaction of basic needs (competence, autonomy, and relatedness) is presumed to be crucial for interest development. A review of empirical findings on vocational interests and need satisfaction is provided.

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  • Krapp, A. 2007. An educational–psychological conceptualisation of interest. International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance 7.1: 5–21.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10775-007-9113-9Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    A person-object theory of interest is presented. Special emphasis is put on developmental aspects such as the transition from situational to individual interest and the relation between interest development and the growing self.

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  • Su, R., J. Rounds, and P. I. Armstrong. 2009. Men and things, women and people: A meta-analysis of sex differences in interests. Psychological Bulletin 135.6: 859–884.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0017364Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In this meta-analysis, the magnitude and variability of sex differences in vocational interests were examined. Results showed a large effect, with men preferring working with things and women preferring working with people. Thus, gender differences in interest are one explanation for gendered occupational choices.

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  • Wigfield, A., and J. Cambria. 2010. Students’ achievement values, goal orientations, and interest: Definitions, development, and relations to achievement outcomes. Developmental Review 30.1: 1–35.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.dr.2009.12.001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Students’ achievement task values, goal orientations, and interest are motivation-related constructs that concern students’ purposes and reasons for doing achievement activities. The authors describe and compare the constructs of task values, goal orientations, and interest and review corresponding literature. Special emphasis is put on development during childhood and adolescence, and on the relations of these constructs to each other and to achievement outcomes.

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The concept of self-efficacy is part of Bandura’s theory of human agency and social learning. The first comprehensive outline of the theoretical foundations of self-efficacy is given in Bandura 1977. Reviews focusing on educational contexts are provided in Bandura 1993 and Pajares 1996. Self-efficacy can be defined as a person’s belief in his or her capability to organize and execute courses of action required to attain a certain outcome. Because this definition bears similarity to the definition of ability self-concept as included in expectancy-value theory, among others, some literature is devoted to clarifying the differences between self-efficacy and ability self-concepts. Bong and Skaalvik 2003 provides a review of similarities and differences between the two concepts. Like ability self-concepts, self-efficacy shows on average a moderate association to academic achievement. Williams and Williams 2010 shows that this association can be explained by reciprocal effects among self-efficacy and academic achievement. Another important research topic is the development of self-efficacy in childhood and adolescence and its influence on academic achievement. Caprara, et al. 2008 and Davis-Kean, et al. 2008 are examples of this strand of research. Finally, self-efficacy is important not only for students but also for teachers. For example, Skaalvik and Skaalvik 2007 investigates teachers’ self-efficacy, finding that it was strongly associated with teacher burnout.

  • Bandura, A. 1977. Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review 84.2: 191–215.

    DOI: 10.1037/0033-295X.84.2.191Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In this article, Bandura laid the foundations of his theory on self-efficacy.

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  • Bandura, A. 1993. Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning. Educational Psychologist 28.2: 117–148.

    DOI: 10.1207/s15326985ep2802_3Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In this article, Bandura reviews the ways in which self-efficacy influences cognitive development. It is pointed out that self-efficacy is an important prerequisite for academic functioning, both for students as well as for teachers.

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  • Bong, M., and E. M. Skaalvik. 2003. Academic self-concept and self-efficacy: How different are they really? Educational Psychology Review 15.1: 1–40.

    DOI: 10.1023/A:1021302408382Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors review similarities and differences between ability self-concept and self-efficacy. It is argued that self-efficacy acts as a precursor of self-concept development.

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  • Caprara, G. V., R. Fida, M. Vecchione, et al. 2008. Longitudinal analysis of the role of perceived self-efficacy for self-regulated learning in academic continuance and achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology 100.3: 525–534.

    DOI: 10.1037/0022-0663.100.3.525Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This study examined the developmental course of self-efficacy, as well as its contribution to academic achievement and school drop-out in a sample of students aged thirteen to nineteen. Results revealed a decline in self-efficacy from junior to senior high school and positive associations between self-efficacy and grades.

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  • Davis-Kean, P. E., L. R. Huesmann, J. Jager, W. A. Collins, J. E. Bates, and J. E. Lansford. 2008. Changes in the relation of self-efficacy beliefs and behaviors across development. Child Development 79.5: 1257–1269.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01187.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors investigated whether (1) the relationship between self-efficacy and academic achievement and (2) aggression stay the same across development from age six to eighteen. Results showed that self-efficacy becomes more strongly related to behavior as children grow older, independent of the reliability of the measures used.

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  • Pajares, F. 1996. Self-efficacy beliefs in academic settings. Review of Educational Research 66.4: 543–578.

    DOI: 10.3102/00346543066004543Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The author examines the contribution of self-efficacy to the study of self-regulation in academic settings. Findings on the relationship among self-efficacy, motivation constructs, and academic performances are then summarized.

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  • Skaalvik, E. M., and S. Skaalvik. 2007. Dimensions of teacher self-efficacy and relations with strain factors, perceived collective teacher efficacy, and teacher burnout. Journal of Educational Psychology 99.3: 611–625.

    DOI: 10.1037/0022-0663.99.3.611Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In this study, the authors examined relations among teacher self-efficacy, perceived collective teacher efficacy, external control, strain factors, and teacher burnout. Results showed that teacher self-efficacy was strongly related to collective teacher efficacy and teacher burnout.

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  • Williams, T., and K. Williams. 2010. Self-efficacy and performance in mathematics: Reciprocal determinism in 33 nations. Journal of Educational Psychology 102.2: 453–466.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0017271Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The authors investigated the relationship between self-efficacy and performance in math. Using cross-sectional data from fifteen-year-olds from thirty-three nations, data supported reciprocal relations in the majority of samples.

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Development of Motivation

The development of motivation in childhood and adolescence is an important research topic. Understanding the reasons for characteristic changes in motivation over the life course is a key to understanding motivation. All the leading motivation theories described above have put special emphasis on motivational development. Wigfield, et al. 2006 provides a comprehensive overview of the development of several different motivational constructs. In this section, few studies are pointed out that investigated causal mechanisms of motivational change. These are only some examples of early-21st-century research on developmental changes and their causes. One hypothesis that is included in many leading motivation theories is that intrinsic motivation decreases during individual development due to decreasing ability self-concepts. In two studies, Spinath and Steinmayr 2008 and Spinath and Steinmayr 2012, no support was found for this hypothesis. Instead, Spinath and Steinmayr 2012 finds that learning goals were a direct predictor of changes in intrinsic motivation. Because it is difficult to investigate causal hypotheses in nonexperimental studies, special analytical procedures (i.e., cross-lagged structural equation analyses) were employed in these studies. Frenzel, et al. 2012 shows that other causal mechanisms behind changes in children’s interest are conceptual changes. Lerkkanen, et al. 2012 investigates the influence of teacher practices on children’s interest development. Hodis, et al. 2011 investigates predictors of high-school students’ school failure. Finally, one strand of research is mentioned that investigates the extent to which individual differences in motivation and their development have a genetic basis. Behavioral genetic studies can add informative value; for example, because controlling for genetic similarity is necessary to determine parental influences on children’s outcomes. One example of a genetically sensitive investigation of motivational development is Gottschling, et al. 2012.

  • Frenzel, A. C., R. Pekrun, A.-L. Dicke, and T. Goetz. 2012. Beyond quantitative decline: Conceptual shifts in adolescents’ development of interest in mathematics. Developmental Psychology 48.4: 1069–1082.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0026895Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Building on the finding that academic interest decreases during adolescence, the authors investigated qualitative change of interest in the domain of mathematics between grades 5 and 9. A quantitative longitudinal study indicated structural changes in interest. Interviews revealed a shift from an affect-laden concept in fifth grade to a more cognitively oriented concept in ninth grade.

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  • Gottschling, J., M. Spengler, B. Spinath, and F. M. Spinath. 2012. The prediction of school achievement from a behavior genetic perspective: Results from the German twin study on cognitive ability, self-reported motivation, and school achievement (CoSMoS). In Special issue on behavioral genetic contributions to research on individual differences. Personality and Individual Differences 53.4: 381–386.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2012.01.020Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This study investigated the genetic and environmental origins of ability self-concepts, cognitive ability, and academic achievement in a sample of mono- and dizygotic twins. Results indicated substantial amounts of heritability in all three variables.

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  • Hodis, F. A., L. H. Meyer, J. McClure, K. F. Weir, and F. H. Walkey. 2011. A longitudinal investigation of motivation and secondary school achievement using growth mixture modeling. Journal of Educational Psychology 103.2: 312–323.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0022547Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This study investigated indicators to identify students at risk for school failure. Achievement trajectories of high-school students were investigated in relation to predictors such as initial achievement, student motivation, and key demographic characteristics. Negative motivation patterns on the factors Doing My Best and Doing Just Enough, combined with initial student achievement, were predictive of underachievement across the final three years of senior secondary school.

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  • Lerkkanen, M.-K., N. Kiuru, E. Pakarinen, et al. 2012. The role of teaching practices in the development of children’s interest in reading and mathematics in kindergarten. Contemporary Educational Psychology 37.4: 266–279.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.cedpsych.2011.03.004Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This study examined the extent to which teaching practices observed in kindergarten classrooms predict children’s interest in reading and mathematics. Results revealed that in classrooms in which the teachers placed greater emphasis on child-centered teaching practices than on teacher-directed practices, the children showed more interest in reading and mathematics.

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  • Spinath, B., and R. Steinmayr. 2008. Longitudinal analysis of intrinsic motivation and competence beliefs: Is there a relation over time? Child Development 79.5: 1555–1569.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01205.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This study explored the hypothesis held by many leading motivation theorists that decreasing intrinsic motivation is a consequence of decreasing ability self-concepts. A cross-lagged path approach was employed in a one-year longitudinal design with elementary school students. Results suggested that the developmental curves of ability self-concepts and intrinsic motivation might be less inextricably interwoven than frequently assumed.

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  • Spinath, B., and R. Steinmayr. 2012. The roles of competence beliefs and goal orientations for change in intrinsic motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology 104.4: 1135–1148.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0028115Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This study investigated three theoretically plausible explanations for changes in school-related intrinsic motivation in eleventh-grade students. Cross-lagged analyses provided little evidence for the hypothesis that prior ability self-concepts affect subsequent intrinsic motivation, even after considering goal orientations as moderators. Instead, learning goals, but not performance goals, directly predicted the change in students’ intrinsic motivation, but not vice versa.

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  • Wigfield, A., J. S. Eccles, U. Schiefele, R. W. Roeser, and P. Davis-Kean. 2006. Development of achievement motivation. In Handbook of child psychology. Vol. 3, Social, emotional, and personality development. 6th ed. Edited by N. Eisenberg, 933–1002. London: Wiley.

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    This review focuses on belief, value, and goal constructs in achievement motivation. The chapter is organized around three questions children can ask themselves: “Can I do this task?”; “Do I want to do this task and why?”; and “What do I have to do to succeed on this task?”

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Motivation and Achievement

Theories of achievement motivation posit that motivation is a key determinant of achievement. The association of single motivational constructs and achievement was investigated in many studies. Several meta-analyses synthesizing this empirical research are available. Huang 2012a and Hulleman, et al. 2010 meta-analyze the association between achievement goals and academic achievement. Huang 2012b meta-analyzes the association between academic achievement and self-efficacy as well as ability self-concepts. The association between interest and academic achievement was investigated in the meta-analysis in Schiefele, et al. 1992. Whereas these meta-analyses focus on single motivational constructs, it is also important to investigate the extent to which motivation predicts achievement when compared to other predictors such as intelligence or personality. Studies that examine multiple predictors simultaneously can identify shares of variance that are either exclusively or commonly explained by certain constructs. Such analyses help clarify the nomological net among constructs. Spinath, et al. 2006 shows that both ability self-concepts and intrinsic motivation predict a unique share of variance in school achievement beyond intelligence. Steinmayr and Spinath 2009 replicates and expands this study, by also including achievement motives and goals as predictors. Meyer, et al. 2009 finds that several motivation orientations are strongly related to outcomes of standardized school achievement tests. Credé and Kuncel 2008 shows in a meta-analysis that study motivation is substantially related to academic achievement. Credé and Phillips 2011 meta-analyzes the relationship between the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire and achievement.

  • Credé, M., and N. R. Kuncel. 2008. Study habits, skills, and attitudes: The third pillar supporting collegiate academic performance. Perspectives on Psychological Science 3.6: 425–453.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-6924.2008.00089.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This meta-analysis examined the construct validity and predictive validity of ten study habits, skills, and attitudes for college students. Study motivation and study skills exhibited the strongest relationships with grades.

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  • Credé, M., and L. A. Phillips. 2011. A meta-analytic review of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire. Learning and Individual Differences 21.4: 337–346.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.lindif.2011.03.002Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In this meta-analysis, the authors review research using the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ), measuring motivational constructs and study strategies. Results indicated that the subscales vary in their utility for predicting grades, with validities ranging from ρ =.40 for the subscale measuring students’ effort regulation to ρ =.05 for the subscale measuring students’ help-seeking behaviors.

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  • Huang, C. 2012a. Discriminant and criterion-related validity of achievement goals in predicting academic achievement: A meta-analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology 104.1: 48–73.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0026223Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This meta-analysis investigated the relations among different goals as well as between goals and achievement. The results of this meta-study are interpreted as evidence for a four-factor structure of goals in achievement contexts.

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  • Huang, C. 2012b. Discriminant and incremental validity of self-concept and academic self-efficacy: A meta-analysis. Educational Psychology 32.6: 777–805.

    DOI: 10.1080/01443410.2012.732386Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In two studies, the discriminant and incremental validity of ability self-concept and academic self-efficacy was examined. The author investigated correlations between ability self-concept and self-efficacy as well as between the two concepts and academic achievement. Study 1 is a meta-analysis of sixty-four studies comprising seventy-four independent samples, whereas Study 2 examined Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) data.

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  • Hulleman, C. S., S. M. Schrager, S. M. Bodmann, and J. M. Harackiewicz. 2010. A meta-analytic review of achievement goal measures: Different labels for the same constructs or different constructs with similar labels? Psychological Bulletin 136.3: 422–449.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0018947Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    By means of a meta-analysis, it was investigated whether conceptual and methodological differences in the measurement of achievement goals are responsible for inconsistent findings in literature on goal theory. It is shown that associations between goals and outcomes differ depending on the operationalization as well as sociodemographic characteristics of the sample under study.

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  • Meyer, L. H., J. McClure, F. Walkey, K. F. Weir, and L. McKenzie. 2009. Secondary student motivation orientations and standards-based achievement outcomes. British Journal of Educational Psychology 79.2: 273–293.

    DOI: 10.1348/000709908X354591Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This study investigated interrelationships between students’ motivation orientations and achievement outcomes on a standards-based, criterion-referenced assessment system for senior secondary students. In a sample of 3,569 students in school years 11 to 13, motivation orientations were strongly related to actual achievement, including “doing my best” (high achievement) and “doing just enough” (low achievement).

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  • Schiefele, U., A. Krapp, and A. Winteler. 1992. Interest as a predictor of academic achievement: A meta-analysis of research. In The role of interest in learning and development. Edited by K. A. Renninger, S. Hidi, and A. Krapp, 183–212. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

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    The authors report on a meta-analysis of the association between interest and academic achievement. Although this work is from the early 1990s, it is still the only meta-analysis on this topic.

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  • Spinath, B., F. M. Spinath, N. Harlaar, and R. Plomin. 2006. Predicting school achievement from general cognitive ability, self-perceived ability, and intrinsic value. Intelligence 34.4: 363–374.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.intell.2005.11.004Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This study examined the extent to which motivation contributes to the prediction of school achievement among elementary school children, beyond intelligence. Intelligence was the strongest predictor of achievement, and children’s ability self-perceptions and their intrinsic motivation each contributed incrementally to the prediction.

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  • Steinmayr, R., and B. Spinath. 2009. The importance of motivation as a predictor of school achievement. Learning and Individual Differences 19.1: 80–90.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.lindif.2008.05.004Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This study examined to what extent different motivational concepts contribute to the prediction of school achievement among adolescent students, over and above intelligence. Ability self-concepts and intrinsic motivation showed the highest increments, whereas achievement motives and goal orientations explained less additional variance.

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Enhancing Learning Motivation

Building on different theoretical backgrounds, approaches to enhancing motivation to learn and to achieve have been proposed and tested. In this section, some early-21st-century especially theoretically well-grounded and successful examples of interventions enhancing motivation in educational contexts are mentioned. Wigfield and Wenzel 2007 introduces a special issue on motivational interventions in school, in which several interesting approaches are included. Among the interventions in this special issue is the concept-oriented reading instruction (CORI), presented in detail in Guthrie, et al. 2004. Building on task values as included in expectancy-value theory, Hulleman, et al. 2010 shows that a utility value intervention enhanced interest and performance both in a laboratory setting and a collage classroom. Hulleman and Harackiewicz 2009 successfully implements a relevance intervention to increase students’ interest and performance.

  • Guthrie, J. T., A. Wigfield, and K. C. Perencevich, eds. 2004. Motivating reading comprehension: Concept-oriented reading instruction. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

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    This book introduces CORI, which is a classroom-based motivational intervention focused specifically on reading. The authors present information about how CORI influences children’s reading motivation.

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  • Hulleman, C. S., O. Godes, B. L. Hendricks, and J. M. Harackiewicz. 2010. Enhancing interest and performance with a utility value intervention. Journal of Educational Psychology 102.4: 880–895.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0019506Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In two randomized experiments conducted in the laboratory and a college classroom, utility value was manipulated. The intervention increased perceptions of utility value and interest, especially for students who were low in expected or actual performance.

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  • Hulleman, C. S., and J. M. Harackiewicz. 2009. Promoting interest and performance in high school science classes. Science 326.5958: 1410–1412.

    DOI: 10.1126/science.1177067Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    In a randomized field experiment with high-school students, the authors found that a relevance intervention, which encouraged students to make connections between their lives and what they were learning in their science courses, increased interest in science and course grades for students with low success expectations.

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  • Wigfield, A., and K. R. Wentzel. 2007. Introduction to motivation at school: Interventions that work. In Special issue: Motivation at school: Interventions that work. Educational Psychologist 42.4: 191–196.

    DOI: 10.1080/00461520701621038Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This article introduces a special issue on interventions enhancing students’ motivation in school. The programs emphasize both students’ academic motivation and their social motivation, focusing on a variety of important educational outcomes.

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