Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Facilitating Learning: Motivation

     This is the third and the last of my discussion about the series of posts on elementary school children. This time, I will be discussing about motivation. Horace Mann once said, and correct me if I'm wrong, that teaching a child without motivating them is like hammering a cold iron. With this in mind, teachers need to motivate their students first and foremost for learning to take place. It is but futile for teachers to go one with the lesson or to do any activity if the students lack interest and drive to learn because learning will never take place unless they are motivated to allow it to occur in their minds.
How do we motivate students?
    In general, motivation can be defined as: an internal state or condition that activates behavior and give its direction; a desire or want that energizes and direct goal-oriented behavior; an influence of need and desire on the intensity and direction of behavior; and the arousal, direction and persistence of behavior.
Motivation is classified either intrinsic or extrinsic. It is intrinsic when the source of motivation is from within the person him/herself or the activity itself. Motivation is extrinsic when that which motivates a person is someone or something outside him/her.
   There are various theories about motivation. Here are some identified theories that explain the motivation:
1. Psychoanalytic Theory-man's motivation is basically unconscious.
2. Superiority and Compensation Theory-emphasized accentuated feeling of inferiority which lead to compensatory activity and a style of life characterized by achievin a plus situation of superiority.
3. Activation Arousal Theory-highly physiological, this theory emphasized balance between level of arousal and environmental stimulation.
4. Social Learning Theory-an individual's motivation is based on his part experiences wherein a particular behavior is based on the success or failure of previous behavior.
5. Humanistic Theory-man's basic needs are physiological while his ultimate need is the development of his potential in which Maslow calls self actualization.
    Educators suggest that intrinsic motivation, or the force that people do without external rewards, yields more positive effect among the learners. It drives the learners to learn even without something material in return. Understanding the nature of intrinsic motivation will enable teachers to develop activities that will awaken this drive, thus enhances learning.

White(1959) published a paper-evidence that human beings have an intrinsic need to feel competent and that behaviors such as exploration and mastery attempts are best explained by this innate motivation force. Piaget(1952) also claimed that from the first day of life, human beings are naturally inclined to practice newly developing competencies or "schemes", and that practicing new skills is inherently satisfying. In the principle of optimal challenge, competence motivation explains children's efforts only to challenging tasks, tasks that will lead to increased competence.

According to White and Piaget, increasing competence that results from practicing newly developing skills and mastering challenging tasks engenders a feeling of efficacy, sometimes referred to as feeling of competence, similar to achievement and pride. It is in this positive emotional experience that makes mastery behavior self-reinforcing.

Other theories on intrinsic motivation portray human beings as information processors. It claims that humans are predisposed to derive pleasure from activities and events that provide some level of surprise, incongruity, complexity or discrepancy from our expectations or beliefs. Pleasure is assumed to derive from creating, investigating, or processing stimuli that as moderately discrepant. Stimulus that are not all discrepant or novel will not arouse interest, and stimuli that are too discrepant from the individual's expectation will be ignored, cause anxiety or even provoke "terror and flight".

Consistent with the principle of optimal challenge, several studies have confirmed that children's emotional response are most intense when they master moderately challenging tasks, which is most likely to lead to improved competence, results in the most positive emotional experience.

Many studies have demonstrated tilt students who believe they are competent academically are more intrinsically interested in school task than those who have a low perception of their academic ability.

Harter said that students often become less intrinsically motivated as they progress through the school years depending on their perception of their academic competence. It is also important to note that environmental factors such as the influence of parents and teachers are considered crucial in the development and maintenance of intrinsic motivation. Students who are encouraged to develop intrinsic motivation in their early years continue to be intrinsically motivated in subsequent education, thus providing basis for achievement motivation in later years. Harter also suggests that sense of self-worth, fostered by a sense of belonging and being socially supported engenders a generally positive affective and motivational state.

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