The next question is: Which factors determine whether learners set goals that are aimed at performance or mastery? We need to think about this, as this can/will determine whether they respectively avoid challenges or rather continue to pursue the predefined mastery objectives despite challenges (Dweck & Leggett, 1988).
- Expectation of competence – This is an important determining component in almost all models of motivation. Learners who think or feel that they’re able to do something are more persistent and show a greater cognitive involvement in learning. Effective feedback (see our blog here) will be necessary to maintain the balance between this perceived self-efficacy (the extent to which someone expects to be able to cope with a challenge, Bandura, 1977) and the risk of overestimation (Pintrich, 2003). Learners with low (metacognitive) knowledge often tend to overestimate their knowledge (Dunning-Kruger effect), while people with a lot of knowledge tend to underestimate themselves. Belief in one’s own competence can be strengthened through development-oriented feedback as well as through offering learners assignments that are at the right ‘ability’ level for them. ‘The right level’ means that the learner can successfully complete the assignment with some effort. This way, you can ensure that learners experience success, which in turn strengthens their sense of competence (specifically for the domain in which they experienced the success) and motivates them to proceed / continue and learn more.
- Ownership/Attribution – This contributes to a sustained focus on control. For example, ownership can refer to learners being able to make certain choices in the learning process. Offering learners options and choices around participation in line with their ability to make these choices can help develop motivation. Note that performance-oriented learners often choose simpler or equally difficult tasks and assignments if they have ownership of follow-up assignments or tasks to avoid the risk of failure. Ownership also includes the belief that one has control over the factors that determine success or failure (Kirschner & Hendrick, 2020). See also our blog on attribution theory.
- Socio-emotional components – These play a role in shaping motivation in the sense that learners should feel ‘connected’, not only with their teachers and peers, but also with the content offered. In other words, the learning climate should be supportive and ‘warm’, and the learning content should be meaningful for the learners. Involvement in the subject matter leads to stronger cognitive engagement and better learning. This doesn’t mean simply letting learners choose for themselves what they ‘like’ or are ‘interested in’ or ‘passionate about’. The job of education is not simply making someone better at what they already can do, but to help them do and learn things that they can’t! It means that the learning material becomes relevant if learners can link it to existing prior knowledge and gradually manage to explain certain concepts and procedures themselves (Surma et al., Lessons for Learning, in press).
If we, during instruction, succeed in reinforcing our learners’ sense of competence, giving them a degree of autonomy and control, and providing a supportive and engaging learning environment, this can contribute to a more integrated form of autonomous motivation. (Edward Deci on a more autonomous form of motivation).
In sum, expectations of competence, ownership and attribution, and socio-emotional components all play a role with respect to motivation for learning. Next week, we investigate whether these general principles of motivation also apply in the context of online learning. We then describe a number of effective learning and instructional strategies that enhance learning and can increase motivation. We then discuss how to implement these strategies in shaping (partially) online learning.
Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological review, 84(2), 191-215.
Didau, D., & Rose, N. (2016). Psychologie in de klas: Wat iedere leraar moet weten. Culemborg: Phronese.
Dweck, C. S., & Leggett, E. L. (1988). A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality. Psychological review, 95(2), 256.
Kirschner, P. A., & Hendrick, C. (2020). How learning happens: Seminal works in educational psychology and what they mean in practice. Londen, VK: Routledge.
Pintrich, P. R. (2003). A motivational science perspective on the role of student motivation in learning and teaching contexts. Journal of educational Psychology, 95(4), 667.