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Effect of Social Influences on Motivation in School

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 1053 words Published: 7th Jun 2021

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Whereas motivation was once regarded as the characteristic of an individual, researchers now recognise the importance of social influences on motivation (Eccles et al., 1998.)  A pupil does not learn in isolation but is part of a social group consisting of peers and teachers.  A pupil’s learning is strongly influenced by these relationships. (Webb & Palinscar, 1996).  Learning through social interactions has contributed to pupils’ achievements in reading, in addition to other subjects (Slavin, 1996).

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Much research into motivation considers a pupil’s belief in his or her own ability to achieve as a vital motivational factor in their actual achievement (Bandura, 1977).  Bandura’s self-efficacy theory suggested that individuals selected specific activities based on their expectations of what they would be able to achieve.  If an individual had a positive belief in their ability to carry out a task, the more likely they would be to attempt the task and to persevere with it.    Connell and Wellborn (1991) believed that if family, peers and school supported a child’s autonomy, developed their competency and offered them a positive relationship, then they would become motivated and would fully engage in a variety of activities.  On the reverse side, if these needs were not met, the child would become disaffected. 

However, the reason why a pupil may or may not wish to carry out a task may depend on whether they are intrinsically or extrinsically motivated (Deci and Ryan, 1985).  An intrinsically motivated pupil would participate in an activity because they are interested in the activity, whereas an extrinsically motivated pupil my engage in the activity to receive praise or a reward from the teacher.

On the other hand, Ryan and Stiller (1991) argued that if pupils recognised the benefit of learning, they would take part in activities as they recognised the value of them, even if they were not particularly interested in them.  Interest in a particular topic also plays a role in intrinsic motivation.  Renninger (1990) defines interest as “both knowledge and value about an object or topic.”  Furthermore, if a pupil is interested in a topic, it is more likely that deep learning will take place.

Further research investigated pupils’ achievement goals and their relationship to achievement behaviour.  One goal theorist, Ames (1992) differentiated between performance goals (where pupils try to outperform others and thus are more likely to choose tasks they are already familiar with) and task-involved goals, where pupils choose challenging tasks and are more concerned with their own performance.

A pupil’s expectations of success change as they pass through primary school.  Stipek (1984) argued that a young child’s optimistic expectations probably reflected their hoped for achievements rather than realistic expectations.  As they grow older, however, their expectation of success becomes more realistic and more closely related to their performance. (Wigfield et al., 1997)  Moos’ (1979) research into  the effect which the classroom and the social climate had on student motivation found that pupil achievement and satisfaction depended not only on the teacher’s empathy and support but also on efficient organisation and goal-targeted lessons.  On the other hand, more recent research has shown that school policies of tracking ability and evaluating performance has a negative effect on the motivation of both pupils and teachers (McIver).

  • Taken from        The Development of Children's Motivation in School Contexts Author(s): Allan Wigfield, Jacquelynne S. Eccles and Daniel Rodriguez Source: Review of Research in Education, Vol. 23 (1998), pp. 73-118 Published by: American Educational Research Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1167288 . Accessed: 27/06/2013 10:54 .

References within the text as follows:

  • Eccles, J. S., Wigfield, A., & Schiefele, U. (1998). Motivation to succeed. In W. Damon (Series Ed.) & N. Eisenberg (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology (5th ed., Vol. 3). New York: Wiley.
  • Webb, N. M., & Palincsar, A. S. (1996). Group processes in the classroom. In D. C. Berliner & R. C. Calfee (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (pp. 841-873). New York: Macmillan.
  • Wigfield, A., Eccles, J. S., Yoon, K. S., Harold, R. D., Arbreton, A., Freedman-Doan, K., & Blumenfeld, P. C. (1997). Changes in children's competence beliefs and subjective task values across the elementary school years: A three-year study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 451-469.
  • Slavin, R. E. (1996). Research on cooperative learning and achievement: What we know, what we need to know. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 21, 43-69.
  • Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191-215.
  • Connell, J. P., & Wellborn, J. G. (1991). Competence, autonomy, and relatedness: A motivational analysis of self-system processes. In R. Gunnar & L. A. Sroufe (Eds.), Minnesota symposia on child psychology (Vol. 23, pp. 43-77). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.
  • Ryan, R. M., & Stiller, J. (1991). The social contexts of internalization: Parent and teacher influences on autonomy, motivation, and learning. In M. L. Maehr & P. R. Pintrich (Eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement (Vol. 7). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press
  • Renninger, K. A. (1990). Children's play interests, representation, and activity. In R. Fivush & J. Hudson (Eds.), Knowing and remembering in young children (pp. 127-165). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
  • Ames, C. (1992b). Classrooms: Goals, structures, and student motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84, 261-271.
  • Stipek, D. J. (1984). The development of achievement motivation. In R. Ames & C. Ames (Eds.), Research on motivation in education (Vol. 1, pp. 145-174). New York: Academic Press.
  • Moos, R. H. (1979). Evaluating educational environments. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


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