Math 7-9

Systems Change
Math 7-9 > Factors > Motivation

Factor Connections

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Motivation is the desire and energy that guides behavior. When we are motivated, we engage more in what we are doing and learn more. Motivation has an essential influence on math learning.

Main Ideas

One important distinction is between intrinsic Motivation, the inherent desire to learn and accomplish goals, and extrinsic Motivation, which is the desire to accomplish goals because of external rewards/recognition or to avoid a negative consequence. Students' general academic intrinsic motivation has been found to decline from upper elementary to high school, with motivation in math showing the steepest decline. Intrinsic and extrinsic Motivation are not mutually exclusive; it is very common for students to be driven by both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.

For example, they may not be intrinsically interested in a specific assignment but they are motivated to do well for a related long-term goal. Students will be more likely to have intrinsic Motivation when they can connect learning material to their own lives and interests and adolescents are especially likely to be driven by personal values and purpose for learning, such as social justice. Moving students towards being more intrinsically motivated is important for long term engagement in math learning.

Some important concepts that impact Motivation include:

  • Self-efficacy - the confidence students have in their own reading and writing abilities
  • Interest/value - whether we want to complete the task
  • Goals - the reasons or purposes for doing a task
  • Self-regulation - the ability to organize and manage thinking, behavior, and emotions to accomplish a task

Culture can also play an important role in academic Motivation and influence the value students place on learning in school. Growing up in a culture that values close relationships with family increases academic Motivation. On the other hand, bicultural stress, the stress that results from living in an environment where there is a mismatch between mainstream culture and your own culture, can decrease academic Motivation in adolescents. However, some students who face adversity and low expectations in school settings can transform these experiences into a source of Motivation.

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