Astudent’s motivation to learn is widely deemed as one of the most importantaspects leading to success in any learning environment (Mitchell, 1992). Motivationis defined as a driving force which leads people to initiate and sustain goal-orientedbehaviour (Jenkins & Demaray, 2015), and is a fundamental construct ineducation, as learning is facilitated if the student is driven to do so. Eccleset al. (1983) discriminated intrinsic motivation, wherein a studentis stimulated by internal satisfaction from completing a task, and extrinsic motivation, as powered by outerforces, such as the procurement of a reward or the avoidance of punishment.
Parallelto this, the Self-Determination Theory (Ryan & Deci, 2002) posits that itis in human nature to be inherently curious and interested in learning, andputs emphasis on intrinsic motivation at one end of a scale consists of fivedefined levels of motivation. This motivation is, thus, more beneficial as itis founded in interest and enjoyment to learn (Ames, 1992). The importanceof the source of the goal was specified, by differentiating between two typesof motivation. Intrinsic and identified impetuses are classed under autonomous motivation, and reflectpersonal interests, whereas, controlledmotivation, encompasses introjectedand external incentives, and is relianton internal and external pressures (Sheldon & Elliott, 1998). Amotivation is found at the other end ofthe scale and as its name suggests, describes a complete lack thereof. Ryan& Deci (2002) distinguished between autonomous and controlled motivation byanswering the criteria: to what degree does the student perceive his or her ownbehaviour to be autonomous? The authors argued that individuals need to satisfythree basic needs in order to experience high levels of motivation: autonomy(the belief that one is responsible for his or her own actions), competence (thebelief that one is effectual at interacting with the environment) andrelatedness (the need to be connected to and form relationships with others)(Ryan & Deci, 1994). The declinein intrinsic motivation as children move from primary to secondary school (Harter,1981), likely caused by the attribution of external stimuli, or overjustification effect (Lepper, Greeneand Nisbett, 1973), has put a ticking time bomb on research into motivation.
Thisessay will, therefore, explore the ways in which different environments canprolong intrinsic motivation and thus, drive students to work more efficiently. Giventhis decay, the attention has been put on teachers, overall, and what they cando to maximise motivation. Many studies have explored the ways in which teachersfulfil students’ basic needs (Ryan, Stiller, Lynch, 1994; Lyness, Lurie, Ward,Mooney, Lambert, 2013). Assor et al.(2002), namely, developed a Smallest Space Analysis, which indicated that childrencan differentiate between enhancing and suppressing teacher behaviours, andfive major areas were investigated in the ways they promote autonomy,competence and relatedness (Ryan & Deci, 1987).
Itwas found that autonomy-enhancing teacher behaviours included giving students achoice, encournaging independent thinking, and fostering relevance. The latter has been shown to enhance intrinsicmotivation because the learning process is made consistent with their goals,whereas the other two cause an endorsement in the child’s autonomy (Zuckerman,Porac, Lathin, Smith and Deci, 1978; Swann and Pittman, 1977). Onthe other hand, rewards, threats based on the incompletion of a task, andsurveillance, all fell under the category of autonomy-controlling teacherbehaviours. Rewards, commonly knownas positive reinforcement, tend to be experienced as in this way because theyare inherently provided to induce someone to do something they may notnecessarily want to do and, therefore, can be classed as extrinsic or controlledmotivation. As Deci & Ryan (1980) established, this causes the undermining effect, whereby intrinsicmotivation declines following the loss of a reward (Deci, 1971), meaning behaviourbecomes contingent on this extrinsic reward. Threats based on the incompletion of a task, also known as negativereinforcement (Deci & Cascio, 1972), and Surveillance (Lepper and Greene, 1975; Plant and Ryan, 1985;Pittman, Davey, Alafat, Wetherill and Kramer, 1980) cause this controllingeffect, which, likewise, undermines intrinsic motivation.
Acontroversial topic, however, is the administration of Positive Feedback. Although it can be said to enhance motivationbecause of its confirmation of competence, positive feedback can, also, be experiencedas controlling (Ryan et al., 1983),thus increasing the child’s introjected motivation and reducing the intrinsic. Consequently,we cannot say that this criterion either entirely supports or controls autonomouslearning.
… Researchhas demonstrated that many pupils complete their homework, not due to intrinsicmotivation, but due to an identified senseof duty, an introjected desire toplease other or an external desire toavoid punishment (Walker, Hoover-Dempsey, Whetsel & Green, 2004). Usuallya parent’s involvement in their child’s education is seen as beneficial andthough some studies agree with this statement (Hill & Craft, 2003; Walker et al. 2004), others have found thatparental participation can prove to be harmful to the student. Giventhe controversy, Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (1995, 1997) proposed a model ofthe process of parental contribution, where factors, such as parents’knowledge, skills, perceived invitation for involvement, and motivationalbeliefs were considered. This study showed that there was a relationshipbetween parents who valued independence, choice and participation and children’sefforts (Gonzalez-DeHass, Willems & Doan Holbein, 2005). This reemphasisesthe importance of autonomy-support in the promotion of intrinsic motivation andestablishes that the quality of parental involvement is primordial. Baumrind(1971) distinguished three different typologies of parenting style: authorative,authoritarian and permissive, which are differentiated with two tools formeasure: demandingness (expectations) and responsiveness (warmth).
The scaleshows high responsiveness in authorative and permissive parents, and highdemandingness in authorative and authoritarian parents. It is suggested thatauthorative parenting leads to more intrinsically-motivated children because theseparents provide more autonomy-supportive, affective relationships, thus fulfillingthe basic needs of autonomy and relatedness that are required to for motivation(Pomerantz et al.).