Math 3-6

Motivation

Factor Connections

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Motivation is the desire that guides behavior. We are all affected by whether or not we want to do something. When we are motivated, we value what we are doing more and, as a result, learn more. Helping students find value in their work is critical to helping them become successful math problem-solvers.

Main Ideas

There are two main types of Motivation:

  • Intrinsic Motivation is the inherent desire to learn and accomplish goals. Some intrinsic motivations to do math include having interest in the subject matter and finding math fun or exciting. Students' general academic intrinsic motivation has been found to decline from upper elementary to high school, with motivation in math showing the steepest decline.
  • Extrinsic Motivation is the desire to accomplish goals because of external rewards or recognition or to avoid a negative consequence. An external Motivation to do math might be achieving a milestone set by a teacher or parent (e.g., doing all of the problems to earn a sticker).

Research shows that students who are intrinsically motivated to do math have greater math achievement than students who are externally motivated. Students are more likely to have intrinsic Motivation when they can connect learning material to their own lives and interests. In addition to academic goals, students are managing social goals and rewards, such as approval or comparison, which may affect their willingness to participate in learning activities.

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