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Valdosta State University
Department of Psychology
PSY310  Edcational Psychology
Instructor: John H. Hummel, Ph.D.

Study Questions/Review

Chapter 10: Motivation

1. Define the following terms: motivation; self-actualization; cognitive dissonance; attribution theory; locus of control; achievement motivation; learned helplessness;

2. What is the distinction between: reward & reinforcer; internal v. external locus of control; "seeking success" v. "avoiding failure"; learning v. performance goals; intrinsic v. extrinsic motivation;

3. What is the difference between intensity and direction apply to motivation?

4 Describe motivation as a result of reinforcement history. (NOTE: how could motivation be a specific result of schedule effects?). Your text states that an examination of the behavioral approach to motivation might answer many questions that teachers have, "...but it is usually easier to speak in terms of motivations to satisfy various needs". Is this acceptable for a data-based discipline?

5. The reinforcing value of stimuli used as a reward cannot be assumed. What does this mean? Describe how one can use a contingency analysis to determine if a reward is a reinforcer.

6. Describe Maslow's hierarchy of needs (the specific levels) in terms of growth and deficiencies. Describe the educational implications of Maslow's needs as described in the text. Is his need theory specific enough to be of any use to educators (or business, etc.)?

7. When beliefs and one's behaviors are incongruent, one experiences problems. Teachers can either attempt to change the student's beliefs and attitudes, or their behavior. How can one change beliefs and attitudes since they are private events? Does it make sense that private events are merely another type of behavior so teachers should focus on the emitted (overt) behaviors of students and assume that their collateral products (e.g., private events) will also change? Explain.

8. How could focusing on a student's behavior rather than their qualities as a person (i.e., what Rogers calls the self) help to avoid cognitive dissonance or faulty attribution when students, for example, receive poor grades. (We don't want the student ending up hating a subject!) ["Your performance on the quiz, Teresa, was not up to your usual work"].

9. List the four explanations for success/failure associated with attribution theory.

10. Self-concept/esteem seems related to achievement. Many educators feel that we should increase students' self-concept so that their achievement also goes up. What is faulty with this assumption?

11. Describe the differences between students with high/low achievement motivation. Does the term achievement motivation describe or explain academic success/failure? How do the terms "achieving to seek success or to avoid failure" lend themselves to a behavioral interpretation?

12. List the respective characteristics of success seekers and failure avoiders.

13. Explain why you agree/disagree with the text's declaration that "...teachers should try to convince students that learning rather than grades is the purpose of academic work". Also, do you agree that teachers should avoid using competitive or incentive systems of grading?

14. Describe how learned helplessness develops according to your text, and compare it with how your instructor says it develops.

15. Briefly describe the expectancy model of motivation. Why is it important to program academic activities (based on the students' abilities) so that kid has a moderate chance of success (rather than a high or low)?

l6. Summarize the 5-step process through which teacher expectations affect student performance. List the three ways teachers can communicate positive expectations to students.

17. Is there a qualitative difference between intrinsic and extrinsic reward? Can/does use of extrinsic reward decrease intrinsic motivation? (Be careful, this is a loaded question!)

l8. Arousing students' interests is one of the four methods teachers can use to increase a subject's intrinsic motivation. Describe the other three. Explain how arousing student interest relates to many other concepts covered thus far (e.g., lesson plans, receptive learning, etc.

19. List/describe the six basic principles of incentives teachers should use to promote student learning.

20. List the categories of reinforcers available for use in the classroom.

21. (A) Describe Slavin's ILE. (B) Explain why you agree/disagree with Slavin's position that teachers should reward effort and improvement rather than absolute or relative performance. Think about it, should a smart kid (and we are alluding to ability!) who is capable of doing a perfect paper only receive an A if the paper is perfect, when another (less able) student receives an A for a paper that is less satisfactory than the other students? Does Slavin's ILE "sound like" a variation of DRH (differential reinforcement of high rates of responding)? [There is a sample lesson plan on ILE starting on page 15 of this guide.]

22. Describe the features associated with cooperative learning.

Describe the difference(s) between cooperative, individual, and competitive grading systems. How can one establish a cooperative system?


1. Motivation, in the most general sense of the term, is an attempt to explain why behavior occurs (e.g., why people do what they do). Many educators believe motivation is a prerequisite for learning; behaviorists, though, view it as a collateral product of learning because it is, itself, learned. Behavioral educators view the term (motivation) as a descriptive (though sloppy) construct. They prefer to speak in terms of one's history and schedules of reinforcement, and the consequences/contingencies under which one currently operates. The text is correct when it states, "..it is usually easier to speak in terms of motivations to satisfy various needs," but this reflects a lack of parsimony and encourages non-empirical analyses of the dynamics of classrooms.

A. The four situations described on pp. 348-349 illustrate this. The $50 is characterized as not being a good reinforcer for situations 1, 3, & 4. This is an assumption/conclusion that hasn't been demonstrated (no data are available to show that the behaviors in those situations have been weakened!).

2. Non-behavioral psychologists/educators view motivation as having two dimensions: intensity (strength) and direction (how it is focused; into which behaviors-complementary or competing ones).

Additionally, these educators often describe motivation in terms of needs and drives. Needs come in a variety of types: deficiency needs (physical, safety and security; belongingness, & esteem), and "growth" needs (knowing/understanding; esthetic, & self-actualization). The most current/popular need/drive theory (others abound and I will briefly present them in class) are Maslow's humanistic approach, and the cognitive ones.

A. Maslow's theory has an intuitive appeal to it, but there is little empirical support that this philosophy can be translated successfully into real-life settings such as schools and businesses. Until there is a data base that demonstrates the utility of the perspective, it can only play a minimum role in a science whose primary goal is data-based instruction. Still, there are two areas where this humanistic theory has a specific and general implication for schools. Specifically, teachers have to accept that children whose physiological (e.g., food and physical) and safety (e.g., shelter and physical health) needs are not being met regularly and adequately will not be able to learn academic content. Therefore, teachers may have to intervene with social services agencies (often through the school or district's offices) to insure that students are receiving medical attention and/or meal and shelter. Too many people, including educators, believe that children's safety and physiological needs are easily met in our society; ask inservice teachers if they know of students who are abused, come to school hungry, or don't have proper clothes or housing. These are real problems; too many of our youth. Maslow's theory, though, is weak because it offers nothing concrete about how teachers are supposed to meet these needs. In his theory teachers are encouraged to help meet children's need for love, belongingness, and self-esteem. These are important aspects that teachers should be aware of, but they will likely have to borrow/use techniques from other areas (cognitive and behavioral recommendations) to determine how to best do this.

B. Cognitive: Schacter-Singer theory. There are several cognitively oriented need theories. They are all based to some extent on Schacter and Singer's work. Their theory, essentially, says that what one does is based on your previous experiences (and your ability to remember them) and your perceptions of the current situation.

1. Cognitive dissonance (Festinger) fits neatly into this orientation. When we behave in a way inconsistent with our beliefs, we feel uncomfortable and must either alter our beliefs or our actions in order to reduce the internal tension. This finding should influence how educators provide feedback re: academic performance.

2. Attribution theory looks at individuals' personality characteristics to see if they attribute/blame their performance on personal (internal) or external (others) factors for success or failure. It uses the concept of locus of control (internal v. external). No matter that this approach is more descriptive than explanatory, it does provide implication for education specific to self-fulfilling prophecies, teacher expectations, and the need to (a) begin instruction at the learner's entry-level; (b) provide them with sufficiently small steps that are achievable; (c) prescriptively diagnosis/remediate; (d) provide sufficient levels of reinforcement; & (e) ensure adequate corrective feedback.

3. Ignore material based on research using the TAT. This is an invalid projective instrument. Thus, studies that have used it to generate data are highly suspect.

4. Achievement Motivation: (McClelland and Atkinson). A very good description (which has high predictive and concurrent validity) of how people strive for success and choose goals/activities that have, historically, been associated with success or failure.

A. Utilizes the distinction between performance (recognition of attaining a goal) and learning (emphasizes knowledge and self-improvement) goals.

B. Learned Helpless: "no matter what I do I will fail, so I will do nothing." Produced, in labs with animals, via non-contingent aversive stimulation.

3. Research on the relationship(s) between motivation and learning, in general, suggests that for each person and task, there is an optimum level of motivation that supports optimum performance; if the motivation is too high or too low, performance suffers.

4. Expectancy Theories of Motivation. This is a stochastic model that attempts to predict the strength/direction of motivation based on (a) the person's perception of how likely they are to be successful in a task and (b) the importance of successfully achieving the task to the person. This type of approach is (a) prone to a relatively high error rate (how do we accurately measure these probabilities?), but (b) it is still useful because it does allow researchers to fairly accurately predict an outcome (a goal of science) as long as users remember (c) that this type of theory is ONLY describing/predicting a relationship (it is not explaining it). The most basic implication from these (and other diverse) studies is that the tasks assigned to students must (a) take into consideration their entry-level skills so that (b) the task is neither too difficult nor too easy for the student (e.g., individualized instruction-a very good thing).

5. Pygmalion effect: Teacher expectations affect students' self-concepts and their perceptions of their abilities and their performances. Communicate high (realistic) performance expectations of a positive nature. (Hummel's opinion: If you can't be mainly positive with all students most of the time, you shouldn't be a teacher!)

6. Types/classes of reinforcers: social (e.g., praise); activity (free time; library time; recess, etc.-use with the Premack Principle); tangible (games, toys, stars, etc.); exchangeable (tokens, points, etc.); and consumable (pop corn, gum, candy, etc.)

7. Distinguishing between intrinsic and extrinsic reinforcers (and reinforcement) with respect to academic achievement. Most educators believe that intrinsic motivation/reinforcement for learning is qualitatively and quantitatively "better" than external ones. There is no research that shows intrinsic "satisfaction/reinforcement/motivation" produces higher performance or better attitudes than external reinforcement. Still, we do want people to "internalize" a love for learning. How do we accomplish this? Provide lots of reinforcement for early learning; gradually fade the external support from the task so that engaging in the task itself becomes reinforcing (i.e., intrinsic). Ex.: I want my kids to read. Reading is very reinforcing for many people (but not all). Why? Those of us who were taught to read with a "good" method and who experienced lots of appropriate reinforcement that accompanied this data-based instruction, (a) learned to read in a pleasant way and (b) the reading activity, itself (because it was associated with reinforcement and we are successful at the task), has become a reinforcing activity in and of itself. So, one "form" of what many people would call intrinsic motivation/reinforcement is really a product of extrinsic reinforcement, and once the skill was learned, it possesses its own reinforcing properties. Intrinsic reinforcement can also be produced through negative reinforcement. Two "types" of behavior are generated when negative reinforcement is used: escape [e.g., R - (-) = +] and avoidance responding. In avoidance responding, one learns to emit a response in order to avoid the onset of the negative reinforcer (the unpleasant stimulation one escapes from if one is actually experiencing it). Basic and applied research shows that avoidance behaviors are very resistant to extinction (because the response is emitted so consistently the person doesn't experience that the contingency no longer exists!), so it could appear that a person was doing a response in the absence of external contingencies, but the response pattern is really an example of behavior developed via external consequences. Finally, many observers will mistakenly conclude that a response that is not immediately followed by a consequence must be an example of a response that is intrinsically reinforcing. Not necessarily. Many behaviors humans do are maintained on intermittent schedules of reinforcement. These schedules are very resistant to extinction, and the person learns to emit the response numerous times before it is reinforced. If the response is not observed over a long enough period (and perhaps across settings) one wouldn't observe the behavior being consequated [e.g., R + (+)=+] and might conclude that it is an example of intrinsic reinforcement when really it is an example of extrinsic.

A. Some strategies of instruction: 1. reinforce the idea of why it is important to learn stuff; 2. use variety in presentation (maintains arousal/interest); 3. communicate clear expectations and requirements (behavioral objectives, do task analyses, etc.); 4. provide, frequent, immediate and clear corrective feedback that incorporates what they did right, what was wrong, and how to avoid making the same type of mistake in the future, that is both formal and informal; 5. utilize a formal reward structure (token system?) in the class for appropriate academic performance (and don't neglect praise as a powerful informal reward for all types of behavior); 6. when possible, let students play some role in setting the goals of their class (individualize goals for students within the larger context of what everyone is supposed to achieve during a lesson and for the years; the larger context almost invariably focuses on minimum standards, so there is lots of room for individual performance goals).



Last Updated: July 16, 1997