Educational Psychology: Motivation

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The teachers must be good psychologists before being instructors. Educational psychology has created through a few timeframes which vary from one another. The underlying foundations of educational psychology have risen up out of the time of old Greek scholars and create through times to turn into an all the more fascinating field with regards to education. Through the progressions in educational psychology, a few theories and approaches emerged and considered various issues that have associations with education as well as psychology. Every single one of these methodologies and hypotheses has an alternate perspective on the teaching-learning process.

In this chapter, we attempt to take a look at the improvement of educational psychology and its approaches. To start with, we need to make an examination on the historical background of educational psychology to put it plainly, and afterward to uncover the significant approaches of educational psychology.

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  • Historical background of educational psychology

Educational Psychology – History, Contemporary Views of Learning and

Motivation, Issues and Controversies: History. Dec 2011.

 There is a deep and marketable history in the field of educational psychology; which began with ancient Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle.

Currently, educational psychology is being formed to discuss the best teaching methods and techniques and other issues related to the educational process including the student-teacher interaction, the essence of learning, teaching strategies and the role of motivation in the learning-teaching process.

In the 1500s The Spanish humanist Juan Luis Vives emphasized on the need to tap student preferences and adjust teaching according to the students’ level and needs. Moreover, he focused as well on the benefits of using self-comparisons instead of competitive social comparisons in assessing student’s work.

In the 1600s, the first to incorporate visual aids in the classroom was the Czech theologian and professor Johan Amos Comenius. He believed that comprehension was the objective of teaching not memorization.

The 1700s was recognized with many European philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Johann Friedrich Herbart, and Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel. They concentrated on the significance of activity, students ‘ previous experience, and interest.

During the 1890s, psychologist William James wrote psychology’s textbook concepts, and then he provided American academic education with a series of lectures given to instructors all over the country called “Talks to Teachers about Psychology” which was about applying psychology to education.

He supported the idea which highlights the importance of improving education by observing teaching and learning in the classroom. His techniques appear to have taken effect: The American Psychological Association was founded by James’ student G. Stanley Hall who prolifically wrote about kids and teenagers, motivating educators to keep careful track of their students ‘ academic progress. (Educational psychology-History)

With the contributions of Jerome Bruner and David Ausubel, modern educational psychology was established in the 1960s. Jerome Bruner promoted research into inductive reasoning and research learning, but Ausubel disagreed because he stressed the need for deductive learning.

Three views are identified in the recent study of educational psychology: cognitivism, behaviorism, and constructivism. As a result of mental procedures, cognitive psychologists look at learning and the emphasis is not on behavioral or behavioral modification, but on the mental process. Behaviorism is a B. F.Skinner-developed approach. He sees education as habit awareness. And Environmental factors are considered more important than the internal mental factors of the student. Eventually, constructivism is a branch of learning theory that focuses on the institution and the learner’s previous knowledge and experience, and sometimes the sociocultural factors of the learning process. According to the constructivist view in educational psychology, Knowledge cannot just be offered by teachers to students. Students must construct

Knowledge in their own minds.

Approaches to educational psychology

– Eloff, Irma and Liesel Ebersohn.Ed. Keys to Educational psychology.Lansdwone, Cape

Town: UCT press, 2004.

Educational psychology has experienced a set of changes that have contributed to the progress of this field. Many strategies are arising from these changes, those which are related to educational psychology and its issues. Behaviorism, Cognitive Psychology, and Humanism are the most common approaches to educational psychology, and each of these methods explores the nature of educational psychology in a different manner, based on its perspective and beliefs. Although these strategies are distinct, they have the same goal: helping individuals to accomplish their potential objectives, accomplishments, and skills in order to improve their grades. (Eloff, Eberszhen, 388)


Psychology is developed out of philosophical science-based theory. The original founders ignore human mental emphasis and tend the ‘scientific approach’ to highlight human behavior. Logical behaviorism relies on a study that is one of this approach’s criteria. This approach assumed that the knowledge and evidence that occur in the actual world could be revealed through the study that has certain requirements and tested hypotheses.


Reasons for motivation

  • Dörnyei, Z. (1998). Motivation in second and foreign language learning. Language Teaching, 31(3), 117-135
  • Dörnyei, Z. (2001). Motivational strategies in the language classroom. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Dörnyei, Z. (2005). The psychology of the language learner: Individual differences in second language acquisition. Mahwah, N.J.: L. Erlbaum.
  • Dörnyei, Z., & Csize´ r, K. (1998). Ten commandments for motivating language learners: Results of an empirical study. Language Teaching Research, 2(3), 203-229
  • Brown, H. D. (1990). M&Ms for language classroom? Another look at motivation.In J. E. Alatis (Ed.), Georgetown University Round table on language and linguistics (pp.383-393). Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
  • Gardner, R. C. (1985). Social psychology and second language learning: The role of attitudes And motivation.London: Arnold.
  • Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions And new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(1), 54,67.
  • Krashen, S. D. (1982). Principles and practice in second language acquisition. Oxford: Pergamon Press.
  • Sutton, R. S., & Barto, A. G. (2018). Reinforcement learning: An introduction. MIT press. To be motivated means to be moved to do something.” (Ryan and Deci, 2000, p. 54)


Teachers and researchers have claimed that motivation is among the most important and significant factors that can influence the rate and success of foreign/second language learning. (Dörnyei, 1998, 2001, 2005; Brown 1990; Ryan and Deci, 2000).

Dörnyei, (2005) states that one cannot achieve long-term objectives in his/her language pathway without sufficient motivation even with the most significant skills, in addition to effective curricula and good teaching.

Weaknesses in someone’s language ability and learning circumstances can be resolved with high motivation which initiates L2 learning and ultimately promotes the long and arduous learning process.

Motivation is a dynamic and multidimensional concept which is defined differently in psychological and social science disciplines by various academics. Dörnyei (2001) argues that the term ‘motivation’ is simply an easy way to label an extremely important and mysterious human characteristic concept.

Motivation is responsible for the choice of a particular action, the effort expended on it and the persistence with it. Motivation explains why people decide to do something, how hard they are going to pursue it and how long they are willing to sustain the activity (Dörnyei, 2001, p. 7)

Dörnyei (1998) states that whereas motivation is a widely used term in the context of education and research, there is little agreement in the literature on its exact meaning. Dörnyei (2001, p. 12) also cites once more that many scholars have identified different ‘most important motives’ that make much sense, the only problem is that they totally ignore each other and do not even try to get a synthesis, instead what comes is an entire picture somewhat fragmented.

He claims, though, that they do not actually clash, despite the complexity but rather enhance and fill our awareness theoretically as well as practically. Due to its complexity, Dörnyei (2001) alludes motivation is completely an umbrella-term promoting a wide range of different perspectives. 

Before moving forward, it is appropriate to briefly examine the historical context of L2 motivation research to determine the development of motivation and its analysis. Dörnyei (2005) offers an outline of the field in three stages as motivation is a complex and continuously ongoing process: the social-psychological period (1959-1990),

The cognitive-situated period (during the 1990s) and the process-oriented Period (during the 2000s)

The Social-Psychological Period (1959-1990)

Gardner and his partners introduced the baseline of L2 motivation research between 1959 and 1990 with Gardner’s theory: integrative motivation and the socio-educational paradigm of second language learning. The era of social psychology observed the vast degree of impact on language motivation through social and cultural nature and human influences.

Gardner (1985) identified the connections between motivation and language learning process including effort desire to achieve learning objectives and beneficial attitudes to language learning. Gardner’s theory of motivation has to do with laborious actions with a desire to achieve the aim and positive perceptions towards the activity concerned. The knowledge of drive, ambition, and fulfillment must be blended to represent motivation and fulfill one’s desire for language learning. “When the desire to achieve the goal and favorable attitudes towards the goal is linked with the effort, then we have a motivated organism” (Gardner, 1985, p. 10). added to individual differences, L2 motivation required social observations and relationships between the L1 and L2 communities to complement the explanations of motivation for L2 (Dörnyei, 2005). As Gardner (1985) states, the L2 language includes not only words sounds, grammatical principles but also fundamental aspects of its culture that students are asked to take implicitly as their repertoire of behavior.

The socio-educational paradigm of Gardner discusses the interaction between individual and cultural differences. As Gardner (1985) highlights the community’s values in terms of language importance and significance, the essence of professional development, and the role of different individual differences that affect the progression of second language. From the model, Dörnyei (2005) sums up how integrative motivation, language competence, and other factors affect language performance.

Integrative Motive (Dörnyei, 2005, p. 69)

Integrative motivation consists of three main sub-components: integrative orientation, interest in foreign language and attitudes towards the L2 community, attitudes towards the learning situation: including assessment of the language teacher and the L2 course, and motivation such as training, desire and belief towards learning (Dörnyei, 2005, p. 68). Integrative and instrumental orientation, the passion for learning a language created by a positive effect towards a group of its speakers and the willingness to learn a language in order to achieve personal, educational or financial goals are also the aim of researches by Gardner and his colleagues (Brown, 1990).

in accordance with psychological aspects, The affective filter theory of Krashen (1982, p. 31) describes second language learning from the perspective of affective factors such as motivation, self-confidence, and anxiousness.

Krashen assumes that people who have positive perspectives towards the target language not only seek more, but also pay greater attention to the language feedback that has been provided to them, and therefore they will learn more. In other words, if they will not be involved in collecting the data they will have a low filter. On the other hand, people whose attitude is not ideal try to search for less input and filter the messages received so that the input does not reach the part of the brain responsible for the acquisition of languages. Also they will have high effective filters as well. those who have positive perspectives have low effective filters. In addition to providing comprehensive feedback, Krashen (1982) states that academic goals such as fostering low anxiety in classrooms promote low filter in the language learning process.

The Cognitive-Situated Period (during the 1990s)

The 1990s cognitive period was characterized in1985 by Deci’s and Ryan’s theory of self-determination and then by Bernard Weiner’s theory of attribution in 1992. Dörnyei (2005, p. 77) points to a self-determination theory of Deci and Ryan (1985), as one of the most crucial approaches to psychological and l2 motivation.

Intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation are the main theories. The intrinsic motivation is to do something for the internal fulfillment, not for some specific purpose, for enjoyment or competition, instead of external prods, pressure or compensation (Ryan & Deci 2000, p. 56). Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is a structure which applies once an activity is done in order to achieve some separate consequence (Ryan and Deci 2000 p. 60)

Intrinsic motivation has become an essential component for both teachers and learners due to its magnificent outcomes for learning and creativity. Brown (1990) believes in the importance of intrinsic orientation and claims that traditional schools produce extrinsic motivation through grades and tests that fail to appeal for student autonomy and enhance learning collaboration in skill-building. Similarly, students who ”do” the language for their own knowledge and autonomy are more able to excel than those who focus on external rewards Brown (1990), Deci, and Ryan (2000) do not, however, refuse to support extrinsic motivation in essential successful educational strategies, because in most activities individuals cannot always be motivated intrinsically.


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