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In the academic field, there is no specific formula to motivate a student to achieve excellence in the score. Moreover, this must not be the primary goal of learning as well. The students must be motivated to learn new things along with new skills which they can utilise in their personal growth as well. Teachers take different approaches such as “Student-centred teaching approach”, progressing curriculum from known to unknown, teaching with the help of modern audio-visual aids, by setting specific objectives, etc. All these approaches not only motivate learners but also create better retention of knowledge as well. Different theories make the learners motivated to learn and achieve success in life. In this essay, critical analysis will be done on motivation theories that are particularly beneficial for the learners. At first, a brief discussion will be done on the concept of motivation, followed by “Self-determination Theory” by Deci and Ryan. After that, the practical applicability of this theory will be discussed to understand the application of this theory. A critical evaluation will be done to relate the theory and practical application along with contrasting findings of these claims. After that, the same things will be repeated with another theory, named “Social Cognitive Theory”. In the end, the relation between two theories or arguments will be determined to understand the concepts deeply.
Motivation is the keyword that means the desire to achieve a specific goal. It is important to set objectives and at the same time make strategic planning to achieve those goals. Motivation helps to achieve those goals by creating a driving force among individuals that make up their needs. There are mainly two types of motivation, which are “Internal motivation” as well as “External motivation” (Donald et al. 2020). Internal motivation is self-driven that makes a person change his behaviour to achieve a particular goal. Here the aim is to create an identity and to become successful. Internally motivated people do not need external validation for their work. On the other hand, external motivation is instrumental in nature. Here, the people either get motivated by other people or from materialistic things such as rewards, prizes, gifts, etc.
“Self-determination Theory” is a motivation theory for learners that come from the intrinsic as well as extrinsic needs. However, intrinsic motivation plays a key role in this case. This theory was developed by “Edward Deci” along with “Richard Ryan” and explained these concepts in a book named “Self-Determination and Intrinsic Motivation in Human Behaviour” (Ryan et al. 2017). It was published in the year 1985 and the basic concept of this theory is to understand what factors motivate people to engage in a particular activity or drive them to achieve their goals. This self-determination theory applies to the learner's motivation theory that triggers them to achieve their aim in life (Ryan and Deci, 2020). Intrinsic motivation is the internal driving force that makes the learners learn some new skills, face challenges, solve real-life problems, and learn something new every day.
There is no significant external reason that influences learners to learn new skills and it is purely associated with the need for holistic growth and development. Here the external motivation is to achieve academic excellence to gain recognition only. This theory believes that external motivation like recognition is temporary and cannot drive a learner throughout. According to this theory, the learners need to feel three things to ensure holistic development (Ryan and Deci, 2019). Firstly, anatomy or self-control and a sense of independence is the key factor for self-determination. Here control means the authority over one's behaviour as well as goals. This feeling helps to drive learners to feel motivated to change or to learn new things and this learning is permanent as compared to external motivation like achieving better grades in class. Another factor is the competence that makes the learners achieve something successfully as well as efficiently. Excellence in a particular area is the goal that causes learners to learn new skills or new knowledge (Howard et al. 2021). In addition, people also need to feel a sense of belongingness with others to understand their value and be self-determined to achieve success.
Self-determination theory believes that learners will do anything to become successful in their field. They will accept if there is any fault and they become more oriented or focused on their actions. External motivation such as rewards, prizes, or bonuses can sometimes demotivate a self-determined person and they sometimes feel as if they are losing self-control. Therefore, materialistic things cannot motivate such learners to become successful (Ryan et al. 2017). However, they are open to receiving feedback and feel motivated following achieving positive encouragement. They feel more motivated to become more competent in their field.
However, many psychologists do not believe in this theory and cannot accept that only intrinsic factors and self-determination can help a learner to achieve success in his field. BF Skinner is the propagator of “Operant theory” or “Instrumental theory”, who believes positive and negative reinforcement are the determinant factors for a particular action to occur or reoccur in the future (Cherry, 2019). Positive reinforcement occurs when a behaviour is strengthened with rewards or praise. In some learners, positive reinforcement or external motivation works better than the self-determination theory, where rewards motivate them to learn. In the initial stages of learning such as in the preschool stage or early childhood or late childhood stage, negative reinforcement works as well. Negative reinforcement grows stronger when the learners are punished for a particular action or to make them realise their fault which makes them learn new things.
External motivational factors are temporary and thus provide an initial spark to engage in a particular action to achieve something bigger. With time, external motivation fades away and only for the sake of reward do the learners lose their motivation for growth. In such cases, rewards, gifts, prizes are unable to motivate them any longer and sometimes they lose the hope of life over time (Kulcsár, 2020). Some parents put extra pressure on learners to achieve the best academic grades in class. They are always pressured to study for longer hours and sometimes have to sacrifice their own hobbies or wishes as well. Studies say suicide rates have significantly increased globally in a few decades. There is an increase in 33% suicide rate from 1999 to 2019. The numbers are even higher when looking at the number of adults who think about or even attempt suicide but failed to do. In 2019 alone, around 3.5 million people planned their suicide and around 1.4 million people tried to commit it (Cdc.gov, 2021). WHO states, 13% of adolescent girls and boys are suffering from mental disorders like anxiety, depression, and suicide is the fourth major cause of death in the adolescent age group aged between 15-19 years (Who.int, 2021). Therefore, the numbers are quite significant that is causing intellectual disability among this age group.
Anxiety and depression, like mental disorders, are creating behavioural disorders among students. ADHD or “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” is a common problem that causes difficulties in concentrating on studies or paying attention to a specific task. They are extremely hyper or overactive that creates barriers to learning new things (Banaschewski et al.2017). They are lacking in motivation and external motivation cannot help to make them learn new skills. They take risks to cope with their emotions and start taking drugs and alcohol early at that age. Different types of eating disorders like “Anorexia Nervosa” and “Anorexia Bulimia” are common in this age (Eddy et al. 2017). Lack of proper nutrition makes them weaker and as a result of that, they cannot attentively listen to others or learn new things.
Early detection of the condition is very necessary in this case and taking non-pharmacological approaches can be a better option. Several strategies have already been taken by WHO and other organisations to better understand this condition and help children as well as adolescents to cope with this condition better. In this regard, “Self-determination theory” can be useful to make these learners change their existing behaviour and learn new skills. Most of the adolescents or learners suffering from this mental disorder do not have any idea of what to do in life or what to achieve. Therefore, external motivation cannot help them to get back to normal life. Self-determination theory or internal motivation is the only way to come out of that condition and start their life in a new way. Counselling can help them to realise what to do in life or what would be best for them. These learners are quite vulnerable and so, they cannot be excessively pressurised to achieve something. Social interaction, social support are the key factors of “Self-determination theory” and thus these learners must be motivated to interact with others (Ntoumanis et al. 2021). The more they interact the more they learn about new things and the more they will be internally motivated to learn new skills and become successful in life.
“Self-determination theory” states that social interaction is a useful way to motivate others to become anatomic, competent, as well as connect them with others. This theory focuses on internal factors such as the need of gathering knowledge, needs of learning new skills and becoming successful. It drives the learners to become independent and at the same time confident enough to face and knockdown challenges. This theory partially supports the “cognitive evaluation theory” that explains the effect of external factors on one’s internal motivation (Riley, 2018). It believes external motivation like good pay or reward, positive feedback etc. influence internal motivation that gets reflected on the performance. The “Goal-contents theory” as well comes under this “self-determination theory” where there are two goals- intrinsic as well as extrinsic that affect wellness and motivation (Olsthoorn, 2020). Therefore, this theory is certainly helpful for learners who want to achieve academic excellence and are motivated enough to fulfil their goals. However, the practical applicability of children and adults already suffering from mental disorders like anxiety and depression is a little difficult.
In students, anxiety and depression-like mental disorders develop due to extreme academic pressure. Some parents force their children to study hard for good marks and if the children disappoint them, either the parents punish them or give them conditions to fulfil the target. In such students, this self-determination theory may not be enough to guide them and get good scores in subjects as they are neither internally nor externally motivated to study (Moiret al. 2018). Social interaction alone is not enough to stay internally motivated or work harder to learn new skills. This theory is quite useful for gifted children who have already achieved academic excellence in class and consistently bring good scores (Goldman et al. 2017). The self-determined person is accountable for his task and does not feel hesitant to accept the fault. However, it may not be the case for a mentally depressed student who is already trying to cope with poor grades in class. In such cases, this theory may not always be applicable.
Motivation is a crucial factor that changes the learning influence in learners. It is used by learners to achieve their goals and wants to give their all efforts to reach that particular goal. Motivation is a condition that changes the behaviour of learners towards their goals. The learning environment is a type of motivation that makes learners enthusiastic towards their work (Gamlo, 2019). Motivation is significant for a learner because it is a predictor of achievement. The significance of motivation can be evaluated thoroughly in a specific theory that is Social Cognitive Theory.
This theory describes individual experiences through influences. It affected behaviour choices, such as environments. In regard to this theory, learner motivation is basically based on their environmental conditions because learning environments provide them with a good place to achieve their goals (Dougla et al. 2020). The context of this theory is dynamic because learner behaviour is affected by many factors. It is a reciprocal interaction between environment, behaviour and learners. This theory mainly emphasises making changes on the social influence of learners because people are social animals. Therefore, social influence affected them most as compared to other things. The main four steps of this theory are given below.
“Attention” is the first step that mainly focuses on behaviour attention. It is referred to as observational learning that is a part of human behaviour in their day-to-day life. The people possess lots of behaviour according to social condition; therefore, this step assists to grab the focal attention of people for their achievement (Alkathiri, 2019). The immediate environmental behaviour is also based on this attention. It is a step where the attention of individuals has to be centred to make them more focused on their targeted goals.
“Retention” is the second step of this theory and the aim is to check the memory of the individual by knowing how well they are remembered for their behaviours. Memory is the basis of behaviour because people have to be memorised how to behave in different environmental conditions. Retention is a type of internal memory that is essential for learning unique and new behaviours for individuals. The unnecessary information is easily forgotten by people; therefore, it is important for people to memorise the essential information that assists them to develop in their future (Namaziandost et al. 2019). The individuals have to develop strong memory power to imitate the action that is significant for their future.
The “Reproduction” step is related to the execution phase. The behaviour and environment establishment for a better way to achieve the goal is included in this step of Social Cognitive theory. Practising for a better environment for learners is the main significance of this part that plays a vital role in practical execution theory for achievement. It is an ability to execute a behaviour model in real practice ground (Formanek et al. 2019). The reinforcement in the behaviour model is justified by this step in a chosen theory.
The “Motivation” step totally depends on the desire of an individual because they are the main people who can execute the whole theory on the practice ground. They mimic the behaviour of people and mainly motivate them to add more value in their concern towards their goals. The rewarded behaviour makes people more motivated to respond positively to the environment.
This essay is mainly based on learners' motivation in their environment and social field. Therefore, they are the main people that have to enhance their motivation through social cognitive theory. In this part of Social Cognitive Theory, four different aspects of real practice are concluded. Learners' activity of these steps in real practice ground is effective or not, this part will illustrate here. A wide range of understanding and implications is given below for a better understanding.
The practical application of this“Attention”step is to assist the learner to pay attention towards their goals with full potential. Motivation is both intrinsic and extrinsic in that it affects the learner’s activity. It is a well-intentioned step of the chosen theory that helps learners to centre their full focus towards a particular goal. The tasks that can enhance the attention of learners towards their targeted goals have to be kept continuously to keep them engaged and grab their full attention (Hwang and Duke, 2020). This attention step also clears the vision of learners towards their goal such as the behaviour in the classroom is defined as objective and it is achieved by enhancing attention in a classroom environment to catch all the things that occurred in the classroom. The expectation from learners has to be explained to them to enhance their enthusiasm towards their work. This enthusiasm also keeps them engaged every time in a worthy manner while doing activities that mitigate their confusion about their goals.
“Retention” is a memory-based step where the learner has to remember the necessary thighs that keep them motivated all the time. The assumption to do best according to their potential, this type of potential has to be established in learner for an effective manner. It is an internal memory behaviour that is essential to build new behaviour in learners (Wang et al. 2019). It also controls the sense of learners by giving them proper guidelines that have to be memorised by the learner to behave in a good manner. It is defined as a classroom example where the teacher gives guidelines to students to pay attention in the classroom to make them engaged all time. The different skills and activities are also urged by learners if they give their full attention in the learning environment.
“Execution” step is the execution phase where learners execute the things that are essential for their motivation enhancement (Beauchamp et al. 2019). This is built into the learner through observation because different behaviour observation makes them motivated towards their learning goals. This execution is done in a threat-free environment because the learner has to do a consequences action to make positive reinforcement in their actions. The learned get the idea from observation and this imitating nature enhances their activity that accelerates their motivation in work.
“Motivation” is the desired behaviour of a learner that can be built through rewarded attributes. This reward attribute for efforts made by learners makes them more interested in their work. The learned are inclined to repeat the activities that they are rewarded for; therefore, it is necessary to give a reward that motivates them to copy what they had observed in their environment (Grigg et al. 2018). This rewarding model gives a positive psychological effect on learners and keeps them more motivated towards their tasks.
It is evaluated from above that learners are affected through various social and environmental factors. The practical things that are mentioned above have to be evaluated to measure their significance in learners' motivation enhancement. The attention step of theory defines that attention has to be dragged to make learned focus to keep them engaged. But, it is not necessary because punishment is the negative thing that is impacted children internally. Attention-grabbing is a motivated learner but this has to be limited in nature because excess attention leads learners to lose interest in the observational things. The unusual behaviour is also a weak attribute of this step because the learner has not had enough mind to differentiate between good things and bad things (Lim et al. 2020). They observe all the things, while this they are also giving attention to unusual things that are not good behaviour for their motivation. Retention is an internal memory event of a learner that has to be remembered by them according to the guidance provided by them.
The assumption to do best according to their potential, this type of potential has to be established in learner for an effective manner. It is an internal memory behaviour that is essential to build new behaviour in learners. This retention gives pressure to learners to memorise the essential things but enough pressure every time is not a good thing for learners' behaviours. The frustration leads the learners to forget the information that is essential for their future. The execution step demonstrates the ability of learners to enact in the same way that is observed by them from their environment (Eccles and Wigfield, 2020). The chosen theory provides comprehensive human learning by recognising their potential that explains the process of the enhancement of motivation in learners. The execution step is a complex behaviour because an adequate amount of behaviour learning enhancement is not an easy thing to measure; therefore, this complexity of execution makes the step criticised in well-mannered learners. The environment is giving the chief influence on learners behaviour therefore, the learning environment has to be developed for learners' enhancement. Cognitive control is the main aspect of the learning environment that is essential for the enhancement of learners' motivation.
“Social Cognitive theory” states that the learning in an individual is determined by the social environment or the situation. On the other hand, the “Self-determination” theory states that learning or motivation for learning is an internal factor. At first glance, these two theories may look opposite to each other and there is no association between each other. The basic concept of social cognitive theory is considered to be a reciprocal relationship between the individual, the environment as well as behaviour (Devi et al. 2017). Therefore, it mainly focuses on the external factors of motivation rather than the internal factors. Many assumptions are present for this particular theory and one of them is getting influenced by others' actions. Learning can happen by simply observing others and adapting those behaviours. Another assumption states that observing others may not always lead to behavioural change but it can lead to mimicking other actions. In addition, the environment can be a source of goal determination that drives the person to change behaviour or take actions in order to achieve them successfully.
The “Self-determination theory” aims the same thing which is setting a goal and achieving that only but the only difference lies in the source of motivation. In this theory, the learner gets motivation from internal sources. The determination of becoming independent and improvement of self-control makes one of the pillars of this theory. Other than that, it makes the learner competent that helps them to gain mastery over every task and influences them to learn new skills (Ryan and Deci, 2020). This influence may come from the environment or other people as well. Therefore, the learners may get influences from external sources but the motivation only comes from internal sources only. Regarding this theory, internal motivation means positive feedback or praise rather than prizes or rewards. The last pillar of this theory is relatedness where the learners drive motivation from the feeling of safety as well as belongingness.
Social cognitive theory is useful to catch the attention of learners in the classroom; retention of this attention is done by teachers by making them engage in various activities. Moreover, in the next step, the learners execute or reproduce the task which they learn in the classroom and thus they slowly learn new knowledge and skills. In this case, motivation comes from external sources such as rewards, prizes, and even the desire for achieving a good score in class. On the other hand, learners following this self-development theory derive their motivation from internal sources that help learn new skills.
The primary focus of this essay was to understand the concept of motivation along with different theories of motivation. Other than explaining two of the important learner motivational theories, their practical application along with critical evaluation was done in this essay. At first, a brief introduction was given to understand the basic concept of “Self-determination Theory”. From the analysis, it can be concluded that this theory does not apply to all the learners and mostly the application of this theory is seen among gifted children. Other than achieving a good score in the class, it can motivate learners to learn new skills. This theory can be applied to those children and adolescents that are suffering from mental disorders like anxiety and depression and want to learn new skills to cope with their condition. However, it could be seen that this theory might not be suitable for those who are already depressed due to excessive academic pressure. Other than this theory, an elaborate discussion was done on “Social Cognitive Theory”. The learners derive their motivation for learning from the environment, society and change their behaviour accordingly. It is a useful theory that is used in a classroom setting to capture as well as retain the learner's motivation. A detailed discussion was done on its practical application along with evaluation. In the end, the relationship of the second argument with the previous one was determined to find the similarities and dissimilarities between the two arguments. In conclusion, it can be said that this essay will provide the information about the behavioural aspect of learners.
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