Is intrinsic motivation primarily cognitive or affective? Is motivation to learn primarily cognitive or affective? Explain.


Intrinsic Motivation refers to motivation that comes from inside an individual rather than from any external or outside rewards that includes money or grades. The motivation comes from pleasure one gets when the task or activity or from the sense of satisfaction in completing a task.

Most of the intrinsically motivated person will work on a math equation, because it is enjoyable. The enjoyment they get to solve a problem provides them a sense of pleasure. They do not work on the problems because of rewards or money. They have the urge to enjoy solving problems without the aid of rewards.

Intrinsic motivation does not mean, however, that a person will not see rewards. It is just that such external rewards are not enough to keep a person motivated. Intrinsically driven students will still want a good grade on a task, activity or assignment, but if the assignment does not interest that student, the possibility of good grade is not enough to maintain that student’s motivation to put any effort into the project.

Intrinsic motivation is primarily cognitive since the student’s is driven to solve a problem and accept the challenges without the aid of a reward in terms on money or grades. They find a sense of pleasure that drives them to complete a task or an assignment.

Motivation to learn can be considered cognitive since it is reflected in personal investment in school activities (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004; Maehr & Meyer, 2004; Reeve, 2006). One student may be interested in classroom subject matter and seek out challenging course work, participate in class discussions and earn high marks on assignment projects. Other would probably consider their social side of their studies and attending extracurricular activities.

Motivation has several effects on students’ learning and behavior.

  • Motivation directs behavior toward particular goals. As we discovered in Chapter 10, social cognitive theorists propose that individuals set goals for themselves and direct their behavior accordingly. Motivation determines the specific goals toward which learners strive (Maehr & Meyer, 1997; Pintrich et al., 1993). Thus, it affects the choices students make—for instance, whether to enroll in physics or studio art, whether to spend an evening completing a challenging homework assignment or playing videogames with friends.
  • Motivation leads to increased effort and energy. Motivation increases the amount of effort and energy that learners expend in activities directly related to their needs and goals (Csikszentmihalyi & Nakamura, 1989; Maehr, 1984; Pintrich et al., 1993). It determines whether they pursue a task enthusiastically and wholeheartedly or apathetically and lackadaisically.
  • Motivation increases initiation of and persistence in activities.Learners are more likely to begin a task they actually want to do. They are also more likely to continue working at it until they’ve completed it, even if they are occasionally interrupted or frustrated in the process (Larson, 2000; Maehr, 1984; Wigfield, 1994). In general, then, motivation increases students’ time on task, an important factor affecting their learning and achievement (Brophy, 1988; Larson, 2000; Wigfield, 1994).
  • Motivation affects cognitive processes. Motivation affects what learners pay attention to and how effectively they process it (Eccles & Wigfield, 1985; Pintrich & Schunk, 2002; Pugh & Bergin, 2006). For instance, motivated learners often make a concerted effort to truly understand classroom material—to learn it meaningfully—and consider how they might use it in their own lives.
  • Motivation determines which consequences are reinforcing and punishing. The more learners are motivated to achieve academic success, the more they will be proud of an A and upset by a low grade. The more learners want to be accepted and respected by peers, the more they will value membership in the “in” group and be distressed by the ridicule of classmates. To a teenage boy uninterested in athletics, making or not making the school football team is no big deal, but to a teen whose life revolves around football, making or not making the team may be a consequence of monumental importance.
  • Motivation often enhances performance. Because of the other effects just identified—goal-directed behavior, effort and energy, initiation and persistence, cognitive processing, and the impact of consequences—motivation often leads to improved performance. As you might guess, then, students who are most motivated to learn and excel in classroom activities tend to be our highest achievers (A. E. Gottfried, 1990; Schiefele, Krapp, & Winteler, 1992; Walberg & Uguroglu, 1980). Conversely, students who have little interest in academic achievement are at high risk for dropping out before they graduate from high school (Hardré & Reeve, 2003; Hymel et al., 1996; Vallerand, Fortier, & Guay, 1997).

“When understanding increases, poor performance decreases. In time, fear of failure and the anxiety it produces will also decrease.” Using motivational theories as a basis, explain how the anxiety will be decreased.


When your understanding to a certain subject or matter increases, it is natural that poor performance decreases since your understanding will make you a good performer. A simple example would be, when you understand how a math problem is being solve using equations and formulas, it is natural that your performance will be high since you are aware of what to do and you understand it. Poor performance will diminish once you are able to understand the subject matter or something that is being discussed or taught.

Examine and provide an explanation for the figure shown in the section on FLOW).  

Flow and Optimal Arousal Theories

These two theories are combined because of their close connection. Neither are supported by much empirical evidence, but they are often seen in a practical way throughout many of our adventure pursuits.

Flow is a state of mind that unifies ones actions and focus. When in a state of flow, a person is purely focused on the task at hand, and is performing at the peak of their ability, where the challenge is high enough to be stimulating, but low enough to prevent over-stimulation or fear. The feeling is often described by athletes as being “in the zone.”

Optimal Arousal Theory (OAT) describes the connection between performance and arousal. As arousal increases, performance of an activity also increases, but only to a point. As arousal gets too high, performance decreases. The perfect (or optimal) level of arousal is different for different tasks. For example, difficult rock climbing might benefit from a high level of arousal, but long distance running might benefit from a lower level.

Part of the connection between OAT and flow is that flow is easier to reach when at an optimal level of arousal.



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