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Math PK-2

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Math PK-2 > 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. 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. 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 math 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

Self-efficacy for math underlies the Motivation to do math. Because of this, students with a higher math self-efficacy will choose to engage in more challenging math tasks. Culture and race can also play an important role in the processes of academic Motivation. For example, students from marginalized backgrounds may benefit from stronger relationships in order to feel a sense of belonging in their school community, which can impact Motivation.

Learn More

  • Student Motivation: Topic that includes research on the factors that motivate students to learn and reach their goals on Digital Promise's Research Map
  • Student-Centered Strategies: Free microcredential on strategies to support students' learning differences
  • Build a student-centered plan: A paid microcredential to build an actionable plan to support learning differences

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