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Academic intrinsic motivation is an essential factor for student success, especially at the university level. Underlying motivation for pursuing and persisting through higher education, vary across various extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Many university students find that their initial levels of motivation begin to wane once course loads become more strenuous and pile up.
Hallmark studies by Dev describe the concept of intrinsic motivation as participation in given activity purely out of curiosity, the desire to engage in an activity for the sole purpose of participation and completion, and the desire to contribute to Knowledge. Intrinsic motivation requires continued effort and persistence, where students with intrinsic motivation often develop achievement and learning goals. The desire to gain understanding in a given topic (mastery) has also been found to positively correlate with effective learning strategies, choice of difficult tasks, positive attitudes towards schooling, self-regulation, perceived ability, effort, and concern for future consequences.
Studies by Elliot on extrinsic and intrinsic motivation have been able to categorize students into three main groups, namely those with a taskmastery orientation, work avoidant, or ego orientated students. The author continues by stating that mastery orientation refers to students who engage in activity purely to gain knowledge or contribute to a field of knowledge.
Extrinsic motivation pertains to a dynamic range of activities engaged in as a means-to-an-end, rather than for their own sake. That is referring to motives separate from caused behaviors. Extrinsic motives for behavior are not inherent in themselves giving an example; a student may study to do well to achieve a good grade because the resultant grade may result in a lavish gift. The act of studying in this case is acted upon for its intended purpose (learning gaining knowledge), but for the sake of an external reward.
Studying information can generally be described as a precursor to learning. But this association is often altered and manipulated to lead towards other things such as power, acceptance, gifts or even money. The addition of an extrinsic incentive to complete a task such as studying has often been found to decrease ones intrinsic motivation. Such findings prove detrimental to the field of education. In order to assist students in developing their intrinsic motivation it is crucial that one Identifies factors that generally affect (academic) motivation. Researchers have highlighted and studied factors such as teacher and family expectations, peer acceptance, money; all of which involve proving one's self to another. Schraw, Horn, Thorndike, Christ and Bruning famously stated that intrinsically motivated students improve their competence, while extrinsic students prove their competence. These factors however do not fully explain why some students continuously persist on given tasks despite preferring not to.
In conclusion, traditional studies on motivation largely focused on motivation as a precondition that is, research has identified a reciprocal relationship between learning and performance. Motivation as a study object of psychology. The self-determination theory builds on the principle of evaluating approaches towards motivation which may or may not be encompassed in the learning process. Moreover, it is important to develop researches of intristic motivation and what relation/influence it has on learners' educational achievements.
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