Motivation and Learning

Essay, 2012

20 Pages, Grade: 1-3




Motivation and Learning
Arousal theory of motivation,
Learning based Theories of motivation,
The psychoanalytic theory of motivation,
Maslow’s Theory of self Actualization or Hierarchical of needs theory
The expectancy theory of motivation,
Intrinsic motivation:
Extrinsic motivation:



The present work motivation and learning is prepared to provide a conceptualization of learning, learning processes, as well as characteristics of learning. Furthermore, this work provides a conceptualization of motivation and the way motivation is linked to learning, it also acquaints a reader to sources of motivation and the theories that describe motivation. Of greatest importance the work provides techniques of developing motivation in classroom as well as in learning.

Motivation and Learning


Of all the words used by the relatively new science of psychology, perhaps the one that has achieved the quickest and widest popularity is the word motive (Ingule et al, 1996). Motivation has long been a central subject of study in psychology, the problem of motivation has been the subject of interest and inquiry for those who deal with human relations and administrators who have been very much concerned about problem of human motivation (ibid). This work is going to deal with motivation and its relation to learning, it will also give the meaning of motivation, types of motivation, meaning of learning, the learning process, theories of motivation, motivation techniques in learning, implication of motivation to learning and the conclusion.


According to Wood et al, (2005) defined learning as a relatively permanent change in behavior, knowledge, capacity, or attitude that is acquired through experience and cannot be attributed to illness, injury or maturation. It is acquiring new knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, preferences or understanding, and may involve synthesizing different types of information (Wikipedia, 2012).

Learning is defined as a change of behavior from not knowing to knowing something new or it is being aware of something new (Omari, 2006).

Therefore learning involve relative permanent change of behavior resulted from experience overtime, it includes change to new skills, knowledge, values, behaviors, preferences, values and understanding


This is whereby learners change their behavior, improve their performance, reorganize their thinking or become familiar with new concepts and information, it means whatever people do whenever they learn this includes behavior that is not directly observed like writing, talking, computing. Students learn even when we think they may not be learning, sometimes students learn because of what their teacher do and sometimes they learn inspite of what their teachers do. Sometimes children learn irrelevant and undesirable things (Ingule et al, 1996).


Learning should be a taken as a process that involves several interlocking steps as not all learning activities in our brain are observable. Therefore there are six interlocking processes are given by Omari, (2006) as follows;

1. Activation of potential behavioral change:

Basically this is stimulus variable conveying information in a form of sensorial data which immediately activates potency as if the question is asked by the teacher or whoever teaches what that is? Activation of potential makes an organism search for the meaning and direction for the stimulus.

2. Creation of Potential behavioral change:

This is a different and advanced stage in information processing, involving adaptive and selective attention to the salient stimulus information. Here, there is a sorting out and preliminary decision on how to respond. The relevant cognitions are called upon to sort things out and start relating the new information to any existing experiences and data in our behavioural repertoire. Since learning is an active learning process, at this juncture is when possible responses are sorted out and hopefully the right one is placed on top of the cognitive deck.

a) Create new structures or schema for the new data, which may be susceptible to memory decay or forgetting as it is a stranger in the wilderness


b) Modify an old structure to fit the new data or information, this is the height of thinking as it involves eye balling, different interpretations of the new information, comparing and contrasting it with existing structure and selecting the one that should be modified. Here some learners will be able to construct the new schemas and achieve the ‘ahaa’ experience or what Brunner calls, discovery learning, while others will fail, and hence the development of individual differences among learners.

Both of these events above represent what Piaget calls accommodation. However, after the accommodation through either route, the way the mind works is that there has to be assimilation again as the mind always seeks for clarity, consistency of thought, or what is often called a lack of cognitive dissonance whereby seemingly contradictory cognitions are reconciled.

3. Adaptation:

Like an activated central system in the computer, the mind is continuously in action as that is central to life itself. We never stop thinking, even when sleeping hence the different kinds of dreams. According to Piaget, adaptation represents that continuous process of mental activity in which new cognitive structures are created, organized, changed, enriched, and made functional in the mental system of the leaner as a result of experience. This is the essence of thinking, reflection, creation of own understanding of new realities, relating things to abstract speculations and hypothetical events, and thinking about thinking itself. Unfortunately, the three processes called assimilation, adaptation and accommodation will only result in new learning if there is internalization of what has been assimilated. Teachers sometimes fall victim to a learning illusion as students may appear that they have learnt something when they memorize, reproduce or regurgitate some facts and principles, but that may suggest a stable degree of understanding.

4. The neurological change:

It is now widely believed that any change in the behaviors most probably involves new neurological wiring. All sensory organs involve neurons and central processing of the data in the cerebral cortex.

5. Equilibration:

It has been already stated that there is a dynamic and dialectical relationship between the stimulus of the processing of the new data and response. What is required is an intact neurological system, functional enough to respond to the multitude. Secondly, the external stimulation must be strong enough to sufficiently activate the potential for behavioral change. However you would want that ultimately the dynamic adaptations to reach a temporary closure and indeed the balance between assimilation and accommodation is after called equilibrium according to Piaget which is the process of balancing the old and the new perceptions and experience.

6. The information processing model:

It is these days fashionable to visualize the brain as a form of a central processing unit of the computer. What exactly happens in the stimulus response like that connections is a series of mental activities that includes:

- Reception of new stimulus data or information
- Storage of the new information in some form in our memory
- Processing of new information to give it meaning
- Retrieval of the information into our active memory when needed
- Use of the new information according to need and context and hence the overt response.

Furthermore, Yoakman and Simpson in Rao, et al, (2006); Prakash, (2011) have enumerated nine most important characteristics of learning which are discussed as bellow:

1) Learning is growth: the world is generally associated with the body which is growing, but through the mental growth of the learner. Although it is latent yet we can perceive its growth through his daily activities the child grows both mentally and physically.
2) Learning is adjustment: learning helps the individual to adjust himself adequately to the new situations. Children meet with new situations which demands solutions. Repeated efforts are required to react to that effectively. Life is full of experiences and each experience leaves behind some effects in the mental structure these effects modify our behaviour. Learning is our growing experience.
3) Learning is not merely to knowledge: It is not merely acquisition of the facts and skills through repetition. It is reorganisation of experience
4) Learning is purposeful: all learning is based on purpose. Purpose plays a big role in learning. According to Ryburn this purpose is always connected with the use of some instinctive power. With the use of the energy with which we endowed with birth. We do not learn everything that comes in our site.
5) Learning is intelligent: meaningless efforts do not produce results. Any work done mechanically is without any soul. When a child learns something intelligently he is likely to forget it very soon. He does not assimilate but simply commits to memory.
6) Learning is active: Learning does not take place without a purpose and self activity. In the teaching-learning process the activity of the learner counts more than the activity of the learner counts more than the activity of the teacher. The principle of learning by doing is the main principle and it has been recommended by all modern educationists. It is the basis of all progressive methods of education such as the project method.
7) Learning is both individual activity: It is a social activity as well. Individual is affected by the group mind consciously as well as unconsciously. The individual is influenced by his friend, relatives, classmates, parents, etc. and learns their ideas, feelings and notions. Social agencies the family, church, films and gangs of the playmates have a marvellous influence of the child and are always moulding or remoulding him.
8) Learning is a product of the environment: Environment plays an important role in the growth and development of the individual. Environment should be healthy and rich in educative possibilities.
9) Learning affects the conduct of the leaner: There is a change in mental structure of the leaner after every experience.


Motivation refers to the situation whereby the behaviors of an individual is energized, sustained and directed in order to meet his/her needs and at the same time achieve organizational objectives. Normally motivation consist of needs (deficiency), which set up drives (motives) and the drives in turn help in acquiring incentives/goals (Santrock, 2003:425). Feldman, (2005) defines motivation as the inner power and psychological energy that directs and fuels behavior. Atkinson, (1996) in Rao, et al, (2006) states that the term motivation refers to the arusal of tendency to act to produce one or more effects. Therefore motivation can generally be understood as a force to be acted toward something.


The following definitions of motivation for learning are sighted and given down by Rao, et al, (2006) as follows; Skinner (1947) states that motivation in school learning involves arousing, persisting, sustaining and directing desirable behaviour.

Bernad, (1965) writes that, motivation is the stimulation of actions towards a particular objective where previously there was a little or no attraction to that goal.

Blais et al, (1947) observes that, motivation is a process in which the leaner’s internal energies or needs are directed towards various goal objects in the environment.

Crow, and Crow, (1962) holds motivation is considered with the arousal of the interest in learning and to that extent is basic to learning.


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Motivation and Learning
University of Dodoma  (College of Education)
Theories of Learning
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This work motivation and learning is prepared to provide a conceptualization of learning, learning processes, as well as characteristics of learning. Furthermore, this work provides a conceptualization of motivation and the way motivation is linked to learning, it also acquaints a reader to sources of motivation and the theories that describe motivation. Of greatest importance the work provides techniques of developing motivation in classroom as well as in learning.
motivation, learning
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Noel Mwenda (Author), 2012, Motivation and Learning, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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