Babies and toddlers seem to be driven by curiosity, driven by an intense need to explore, interact, and make sense of their environment. As James Raffini, an expert on school motivation, puts it, you rarely hear parents complain that their preschooler is unmotivated, but the truth is that many times children are.

Unfortunately, as children get older, their passion for learning often seems to wane and is associated with heaviness rather than enthusiasm and delight. Large numbers of students drop out of school before graduation and many more are physically present in the classroom, but mentally absent, with what that means for their advancement and what they miss out on from the incredible learning experience .

Knowing how students’ attitudes and beliefs about learning develop, and what facilitates learning by itself, could help educators reduce student apathy.

What is student motivation?

Student motivation has to do with the desire they have to participate in the learning process, but it also refers to the reasons or objectives that underlie their participation, or non-participation, in academic activities. Although students may be equally motivated to perform a task, the sources of their motivation may differ.

A student who is INTRINSICALLY motivated, may undertake an activity for his own good and for the enjoyment it provides, however, a student who is EXTRINSICALLY motivated, will perform activities to obtain some reward or avoid some punishment external to the activity itself, such as for example around grades.

In this sense, the motivation to learn is characterized by long-term and quality participation in learning, as well as commitment to the learning process.


motivación aprendizaje



What factors influence the development of motivation?

The children’s home environment shapes the initial constellation of attitudes they develop toward learning. When parents foster their children’s natural curiosity about the world by listening to their questions, encouraging exploration, and familiarizing little ones with resources that can expand their world, they are conveying the message to their children that learning is worthwhile and worthwhile. which is often fun and satisfying .

When children are raised in a home that fosters a sense of self-worth, competence, autonomy, and self-efficacy, they will be more willing to accept the risks inherent in learning. Conversely, when children do not see themselves as competent and capable, their freedom to participate in challenging academic activities and their ability to tolerate and cope with failure will decrease considerably.

Once children start school, they also begin to form beliefs about their related successes and failures. The sources to which children attribute their successes (usually effort, skill, luck, or level of difficulty of the task) and failures (often lack of ability or lack of effort) have important implications regarding the way in which they they approach and face learning situations.

Teachers’ own beliefs about teaching and learning , and the nature of expectations they have for their students, will also have a powerful influence. School-wide goals, policies, and procedures also interact with classroom climate and practices to affirm or alter increasingly complex attitudes and beliefs related to student learning.


Does the intrinsic or extrinsic orientation matter in learning?

Does it really matter whether students are primarily intrinsically or extrinsically oriented toward learning?

  • Intrinsically oriented learners . When intrinsically motivated, students tend to employ strategies that require more effort and that allow them to process information in greater depth. Students with an intrinsic orientation also tend to prefer tasks that are moderately challenging.
  • To extrinsically oriented students . Extrinsically oriented students gravitate toward tasks that have a low level of difficulty. Extrinsically oriented students are inclined to make the minimum effort necessary to obtain the maximum reward.

How can motivation to learn be fostered?

To foster motivation, it is essential that teachers see themselves as active agents of socialization capable of stimulating students’ motivation to learn, and in this sense the classroom climate is very important. If students experience that the classroom is like a caring and supportive place where there is a sense of belonging and everyone is valued and respected, they will tend to participate more fully in the learning process.

Relevance also promotes motivation, as does the “contextualization” of learning, that is, helping students see how skills can be applied in the real world. In addition, defining tasks in terms of specific short-term objectives can also help students associate effort with success. Extrinsic rewards, on the other hand, should be used with caution, as they have the potential to decrease existing intrinsic motivation.

Depending on their degree of congruence with classroom goals and practices, goals for all schools dilute or enhance classroom efforts . To support motivation for learning, school-wide policies and practices should emphasize task control and effort, rather than relative performance and proficiency.


motivación intrínseca y extrínseca


So what can be done to help unmotivated students?

A first step might be to help students focus on tasks, rather than being distracted by fear of failure; respond to frustration by retracing your steps to find mistakes or discover alternative ways to tackle a problem rather than giving up; or attribute their failures to insufficient effort or a lack of information or confidence in ineffective strategies, rather than a lack of capacity.

Another potentially useful strategy is to represent effort as an investment rather than a risk.

Because the potential payoff – having students who value learning for its own sake – is priceless, it is crucial for parents, teachers, and principals to dedicate the time necessary to generate, maintain, and rekindle student motivation around learning. learning.

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