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How motivation affects learning?

The very term motivation comes from the Latin word „moves, never“ which means: to move.

Motivation is an internal driving force that supplies us with driving force to achieve our goals and meet our needs. The term motive is an internal human factor that drives, directs, sustains and suspends human activity.

The notion of motivation is related to:

  • motivational state – represents a certain commitment of a person to some motive and activity triggered by that motive.
  • Motivational process – includes the process of initiating, directing and regulating the activities of a particular person.


The importance of motivation for success cannot be overstated. This means, for example, if you want to become a doctor or a professor. Not only is this desire sufficient. Efforts must be made and some activities must be undertaken to achieve it.
If there is no encouragement and reward in the period between the initial desire for success and eventual achievement of it, the chances of success are very low.
Different needs are more or less important at different times. So Abraham Maslow formulated hierarchical system whereby basics needs dominate over other motives. And different wants and needs become more pronounced after other needs are met.

Success in learning can meet other needs: the need for self-esteem, love and belonging. Rewards and praise can have both positive and negative consequences.
There are two types of motivation: internal and external. External motivation if the student’s behaviour is driven by rewards and punishments.
Internal motivation means the student’s interest in the activity itself. It fills the student with satisfaction (need for knowledge).


There are significant differences between individuals in the strength of their motivation for achievement. The motivation for achievement is usually stronger in young people who have parental support.

According to David Ausubel in the school environment, motivation for achievement has three components:

  • Cognitive motive – „task-oriented“;
  • A component that enhances the self-motivation of learning indirectly (motivation through rewards, praise, grades…);
  • Affiliate components – endorsement by others (acting to elicit reactions from relatives, friends, boss, etc.).

Each of these three motivations varies in strength and direction changes as one progresses.

Experiences of success and failure

Experiences of success and failure contribute to assessing one’s abilities and expectations relating to success in the future. Constantly experiencing failure leads to lower estimates of one’s abilities and insecurities.
We attribute responsibility for failures to external factors (bad luck, faith, etc.). When we constantly experience failure, we believe that is not the result of lack of effort but of some external influences.
This does not case for successful people. Because they rarely experience failures and then they know that they have experienced them. They have not worked hard enough. And believed that it will not happen if they put more effort and activate themselves.

Motivation is extremely important and makes a big difference. On the other hand, motivation is not a unique and simple thing. There are various factors of motivation that can inhibit young people eager for success. These are lack of confidence in themselves, fear of failure, anxiety or depression.

„Motivation is what drives you, habit is what keeps you on track“ (Jim Ron).


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