What do we know about student motivation and engagement?

Year: 2004

Author: Ainley, Mary

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Most educators believe motivation is necessary for effective learning. Most know there are many sources of student motivation, and just about everyone wants students to be more motivated and engaged. One common perspective in research on student motivation is to identify student qualities that are conducive to engagement with learning. Investigations focus on what students bring to their learning by way of goals, values or purposes. Sometimes these variables are viewed as trait-like dispositions that apply across situations. Sometimes they are treated as variables that are context specific. A second general approach starts with the proposition that learning conditions are critical. Certain types of schooling experiences promote motivation and engagement. From this perspective what is needed is more careful attention to designing and implementing conditions that maximize the opportunity for lively, challenging learning experiences. However, at the same time there are features of classrooms, peer groups, the tasks, and teachers that are known to trigger negative moods and anxiety, or values incompatible with learning. The result is boredom, disengagement, disruptive tactics and dropping out.

In this presentation we will review the major findings on student motivation and engagement, highlighting the trends that are guiding contemporary research.