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Motivation and performance
Given a class of motivated individuals, a teacher can easily and successfully introduce a
complex subject though dynamic and challenging tasks and activities. Given a class of
unmotivated students a teacher's life can be made very difficult.
Motivation it is a dynamic attribute which grows and falls in response to many
different variables. Knowledge of these variables can be a powerful tool for a teacher as
they suggest ways of improving motivation.
Motivation may be defined as the pressure which orients behaviour to the attainment of
particular goals centred on physiological, psychological and social necessities and desires.
Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from inside an individual rather than
from any external or outside rewards, such as money or grades.
Extrinsic motivation refers to motivation that comes from outside an individual. The
motivating factors are external, or outside, rewards such as money or grades. These
rewards provide satisfaction and pleasure that the task itself may not provide.
Educational psychologists emphasis the role of arousal in successful learning. Two elements
are thought to produce arousal
physiological factors which include increase in heart rate, blood pressure, brain
psychological factors result in increase attentiveness and alertness
It is thought that for any action to occur arousal first needs to take place.
The higher our level of arousal the more we will achieve
However the Yerkes-Dodson law tells us otherwise, saying that every activity (including
educational ones) has an optimal level of arousal where our performance will be most
effective. For example, if we do an activity without the correct level of arousal we will not
apply ourselves to the task well enough. This law also maintains that the point of optimal
arousal varies from task to task but that generally the more complex the task, the higher
the level of arousal needed. Levels of arousal that are not optimum often results in
common classroom behaviours, like fidgeting or doodling. This has implications that
teachers should be aware of levels of arousal in their classrooms.
Motivation is a drive that can be chance by an individual's experience of punishment and
reinforcement. Consequently the application of operant conditioning can improve classroom
effectiveness. Operant conditioning ensures a high level of motivation in students and
positive reinforcement should be given as often as possible. Punishment, on the other
hand, should be avoided as much as possible. Operant conditioning suggest that motivation
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