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Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

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Motivation in learning process plays a crucial role for both students and teachers. The purpose of the research was to analyze and evaluate academic performance of students during their second year of university, and examine dependence between motivational orientations, stress and adjustment. A sample involved 91 second-year psychology undergraduates (71 female, 20 male) from 18 to 36 years (M = 19.46, SD = 3.08). The academic motivation scale, based on a 28-item measure of motivation, was used as the main method of the research which helped to determine three types of intrinsic and three types of extrinsic motivation.

Each point was rate on a 7-point scale. Also, the researchers used principal component analysis in order to reduce the number of errors. A multivariate regression analysis helped to evaluate the relationship between well-being, motivational orientations, adjustment, stress and academic performance. Special methods were designed for psychological well-being (the 12-item General Health Questionnaire), adjustment to University.(the College Adaptation Questionnaire), stress (the Perceived Stress Scale) and academic performance factors.

The data analysis showed that “Intrinsic motivation was positively related to adjustment (CAQ) and negatively related to self-reported stress” (Baker, 2004). Poor academic performance was closely connected with amotivation and high self-reported stress. Students with higher amotivation scores also reported high level of stress. There were no correlations found between such factors as adjustment, stress and extrinsic motivation. In addition, results showed that intrinsic motivation to know was the dominant motivational factor among students (Fchange (1, 87) = 11.34, p = .001).

The results from this study showed that amotivation was caused by stress and low self-esteem which led to poor academic performance. In contrast to previous research results (underlining the important of all types of intrinsic motivation), the present study found that only intrinsic motivation to know had a significant impact on the outcomes. In addition, entry qualifications and gender differences had a great influence on academic performance scores (higher entry qualifications resulted in higher grades over the course, female participants had higher extrinsic motivation than male students).

The limitations of the study were that (1) the measures were self-reported, (2) main items of the study were cross-sectional, (3) the impact of psychological gender differences was not taken into account, (4) the sample size involved participants from one University only. Further research is needed in order to test current theories and determine trends and new motivational factors among University students.

The research is very important because it determines differences in individuals’ ability to learn and motivational factors which affect learning process. Intrinsic motivation is the major factor which affects students because success and recognition cannot play the role of driven forces for a long time. Strong personal believes and personal goals should be seen as the main factors because they are enduring and do not require constant teachers supervision.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Intrinsic Motivation, Extrinsic Rewards, and Divergent Views of Reality. (2003) Educational Psychology Review, 15 (3), September.


Success and reward was reported as a positive motivator: the satisfactory completion of a task through co-operative action; praise from management; a feeling of high status; achievement in competition with other groups; benefits gained. Some researchers stated that extrinsic rewards had a great influence on intrinsic motivation (Lepper, Deci). On the other hand, behavioral psychological theorists (Sansone and Harackiewicz0 proved that extrinsic rewards did not undermine intrinsic motivation. In order to evaluate and analyze the impact of extrinsic rewards on motivation, the present research distinguished performance-approach goals and performance-avoidance goals. Also, the research addressed such issues as costs of performance approach goals.

Critical analysis, discussion and evaluation of the motivational theories were the main methods used by the author to determine the role and impact of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. The author discussed three main tensions and their role in motivational process:  the empirical tension, the tension between the microanalysts and the macroanalysts and the tension between the realists and the idealists. To determine the empirical tension, it was important to take into account personal, situational, and definitional variables.

For the microanalysts and the macroanalysts, types of variables and research questions were the most important for analysis. According to Molden and Dweck, performance goals and intrinsic motivation, success and failure conditions should be taken into account during research analysis. The author found that the debate over intrinsic and extrinsic rewards and motivation, itself, should be based on micro and macro questions. Both the Realists (Barron and Harackiewicz) and the Idealists (Ryan and Deci) views helped to explain the role of reward in motivation and examine the impact of extrinsic rewards in intrinsic motivator.

The author concluded that there was an urgent need to develop theoretical background of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation based on precise terminology and definitions. Also, the main task of researchers was to concentrate on the macro-level questions and realistic conditions of research. Further research is needed to build new knowledge, and secondly, to disseminate that knowledge and raise awareness of its potential applications. Knowledge created but not shared has no value. The limitation of the study was that it did not take into account application of the theories under discussion and practical results.

The research highlights the main theories and trends, provides overview of directions and theoretical background of the problem. In learning process, extrinsic reward and intrinsic motivation are the main theories which help to explain why some students high motivated while the others are low motivated. The main task of researchers is to find new methods and ways to direct students and clarify what teachers expects of them.


  1. Baker, S.R. (2004). Intrinsic, Extrinsic, and Amotivational Orientations: Their Role in University Adjustment, Stress, Well-Being, and Subsequent Academic Performance.  Current Psychology: Developmental • Learning • Personality • Social. Fall, (23), 3, 189-202
  2. Intrinsic Motivation, Extrinsic Rewards, and Divergent Views of Reality. (2003) Educational Psychology Review, 15 (3), September.

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