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8 Ways To Stay Motivated To Complete Assignments


When you enter college, you get blasted with many responsibilities. Some are new to you, while others are not. The new things can take you a lot of time to learn. One new thing you have to learn and master is assignment writing . Yes, assignments are a big part of college life.

If you haven’t started college yet, you may be thinking that we’re exaggerating things. But, that’s not the case. Learning how to write assignments in college is crucial. Students who don’t learn it take expert help from websites like Grow With Grades (GWG), which isn’t bad, in our opinion.

Taking help occasionally isn’t bad. What’s bad is when you don’t learn how to write assignments throughout your time spent at college. We're writing this blog to stop you from dealing with this problem. This blog will tell you 8 ways to stay motivated to complete assignments.

Let’s start. 

Put An End To Procrastination

The first thing you want to take care of while writing assignments is to end procrastination. It is the number one enemy of a good and productive life. We know you love to sleep whenever you get time. But taking multiple naps throughout the day isn’t a good thing.

Procrastination can also look like using your smartphone, even after knowing that you have assignments to complete. Whatever is causing you to procrastinate, you need to find a solution ASAP.

The thing with procrastination is that it can stop you from completing the simplest of tasks. Consider you get 10 days for completing assignments . You can still not do it if you have a habit of procrastinating. You may not realize it now, but it is a big problem that will stop you from succeeding in life.  

Put Distractions Aside

Often some things lead you to procrastinate. And the most common is a smartphone. Parents reading this blog will agree that smartphones are indeed why they argue with their children. Children these days use smartphones for hours on end because they can do everything using them. From taking notes in class to setting reminders for assignment submission, there is no end to what can be done using smartphones.

When children have access to smartphones from a young age, they’re very likely to develop a habit. And developing a habit of using smartphones is never good because it can stop you from focusing on what’s important and start indulging in timepass activities.

So, from now on, when you’re about to start assignment writing , make sure to keep your smartphone away from you, preferably in the other room. Initially, you may want to use your smartphone every few minutes. But once you develop a habit, not using it will become a habit for you.

Do Extensive Research

You can’t straight away decide to write assignments when the professor asks you to. When you do it, assignment writing becomes boring, which is why you can’t stay motivated. There’s a very simple way you can counter this problem.

The way is by doing extensive research. When you research, you learn many things, and the task does not stay boring at all. Moreover, research is crucial for any assignment because you can’t complete it if you don’t research.

Make sure to search for information from multiple resources. When you do it, you identify any wrong information you might include if you don’t check multiple resources. We recommend you check research papers because they have the most credible information.

Create An Outline

You feel bored and lack motivation when you don’t begin the work. Often starting something is the hardest thing. You’ll realize it when you have to write assignments. Starting them is like a challenge, but you realize writing the other parts becomes fairly easy when you start writing.    

So, what you can do is create an outline for the assignment. Outline means to create the introduction and different headings. When you do it, you put an end to boredom and have a rough idea about what you’ll write. And when you have done some work, you stay motivated to complete the rest.

Reward Yourself

Writing assignments continuously can be tiring. We assure you that no one (even the best writers) can do it.

So, what’s the solution when you’re tight on deadlines?

A very good solution is to start rewarding yourself. The reward can be anything from tasty food to watching funny videos. There is no limitation to what a reward can look like. Whatever makes you appreciate your efforts can be a reward.

You might have seen many people these days intentionally make their lives harder. They do it in the name of evolving through challenges. While it is true that a person grows when they go through challenges, it isn’t a good practice to create them forcefully. We all have to realize how crucial it is to appreciate ourselves.

And occasionally eating your favourite food won’t make you fat. So, stop thinking about it and reward yourself often.    

Take A Walk

The breaks you take when writing assignments aren’t a waste of time. They are meant to refresh your mind and body, which are essential if you want to keep your productivity high. You can either sit idle or take a walk.

Taking a walk is a pretty good habit , as it can refresh your mind. When you walk in nature, your eyes, mind and entire body feels refreshed. If you’re looking to lose fat, walking is a good choice. You don’t necessarily have to run or go to a gym to get in good shape. Brisk walking can burn a lot of calories, and it is the perfect choice for people with busy schedules.

Ask Your Friends What You Don’t Understand

It is common for students in college not to know everything about all the subjects. It could be because they are interested in a specific subject or just don’t have enough time to become good at everything. When this happens, students can ask their friends to teach them what they don’t know.

We feel asking your college friends about topics you don’t understand is a very good thing. You can’t always approach your professor and ask them about your doubts. Well, you can, but most students are not comfortable doing it. If you are or want to learn how to be your professor’s favourite student, we recommend you read this blog .

Anyways, when you take help from your friends, you don’t have to speak in a formal tone, as you would with your professors. Another benefit is that your relation with your friends will strengthen. You never know which friends can become your best friends, and you may end up staying in touch with them for many years.  

Know The Negative Consequences

For some students, positive things don’t work. They have to think about the negative consequences to get motivation. In college, it means they have to think that they can fail if they don’t complete and submit their assignments on time.

Many people crumble under pressure, but some love working under it. Many athletes deal with pressure when the race is about to start. But whenever any news reporter asks them how they’re feeling, they always reply that they’re excited. That’s because the same part of your brain works when you’re under pressure and excited.

So, if thinking about negative consequences motivates you to take action and complete assignments, resort to it.

Staying motivated while writing assignments is difficult because there are some challenges that one is presented with. If you also lose motivation easily while doing assignments, you need to read this blog. That’s because, in this blog, we covered 8 ways to stay motivated to complete assignments. After reading this blog, we hope that you won’t have trouble finding motivation.

If you liked reading it, share it with your college friends.



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Global Cognition

7 ways to improve your motivation to study (backed by science).

by Winston Sieck updated September 18, 2021

girl seeking the motivation to study

Just about everyone who has ever been in school knows what it feels like to sit in front of the computer, staring at a blank screen. Hoping their term paper would write itself.

Or tried reading a textbook only to find that they have read the same paragraph ten times and still don’t know what they read.

Or decided they would rather clean the clutter out from under their bed than study in the first place.

Bottom line, studying can be kind of a drag. When you have a hundred other things you would rather do and an overwhelming amount of work to do, it is hard to get started and even harder to finish.

Fortunately, there are some simple, scientifically proven ways you can find your motivation and keep it.

What is Motivation to Study?

Motivation comes from a Latin word that literally means “to move.” But what causes someone to be motivated to study has been a hot topic in the world of science.

Researchers believe that your motivation to study can either come from inside you or outside of you. You can be motivated by an internal drive to learn as much possible. Or, you might be motivated to study by an external reward like a good grade, or a great job, or someone promising you a car.

Recently, researchers have discovered that your motivation to study is rooted in lots of factors, many of which we have control over. Rory Lazowski of James Madison University and Chris Hulleman of the University of Virginia analyzed more than 70 studies into what motivates students in schools. They published their paper , “Motivation Interventions in Education: A Meta-Analytic Review, in the journal Review of Educational Research .

Lazowski and Hulleman found that a number of ways to improve motivation consistently yield positive results. Here, I describe seven of the techniques that you can most readily use on your own to power through your own study barriers, and move your learning forward.

1. Set Clear Goals

You may think to yourself, “My goal is to graduate and get a good job and be rich.” While that’s a fine ambition, by itself it probably won’t help you in school day-to-day.

In order to improve your motivation to study, your goals have to be a little closer to home. In fact, setting clear academic goals has been scientifically linked to higher grade point averages than students who set vague goals, like, “I’ll just do the best I can.”

Set a goal to earn an “A” on a particular test in a particular subject. Or, decide to learn everything you can about a concept because it will help you in the real world. Set a deadline for homework that will force you to finish a task before it is due so you can review it before handing it in. Whatever the goal is, be sure it is specific, relevant, and timely.

2. Don’t Just Shoot For Performance, Go For Mastery

There is nothing more frustrating than studying hard for a test only to get a grade that is less than what you were expecting. At that point, lots of students throw their hands in the air and say, “If this is what happens when I study, why study?”

Resist that urge.

The grades you receive on a test are examples of performance goals. If you set a goal to get an “A”, and stop there, you may only study the things that you think will be on the test, but not necessarily the things that will give you mastery of the concept.

Students who consistently strive for mastery , really learning what they are studying, almost always see their grades improve as a result.

Mastery goals also help with your motivation to study. If you want to learn everything there is to know, you are less likely to put off starting that process.

3. Take Responsibility for Your Learning

It’s tempting to blame your grades on other people. The teacher doesn’t like you. They never taught what you were tested on. Your homework assignment doesn’t apply. When you blame others for your performance, you are more likely to do poorly on tests, assignments and projects.

Taking responsibility for your own learning can make a world of difference when it comes to getting yourself motivated to study. Recognizing that you are in charge of what you learn can help you start studying, but it can also keep you going when other distractions threaten to take your attention away.

Next time you are tempted to stop in the middle of an assignment and do something else, pause. Take a breath. Then, say out loud, “No one is going to learn this for me.” You might be surprised at how hearing those words affect your focus.

4. Adopt a Growth Mindset

Some people still believe that you’re either born smart (or not). And there’s not much you can do about it. However, research has shown that successful people tend to believe that intelligence is something you build up over your life. These folks have a growth mindset.

When your intelligence is challenged by hard assignments or difficult concepts, people with a growth mindset tend to think, “I don’t know this yet, but if I work hard, I will learn it.”

Researchers found that believing your brain can get stronger when you tackle hard things not only improves your mastery of what you are learning, it also improves your grades and increases your motivation to study.

The next time you are faced by a blank screen or hard textbook chapter remember, “I don’t know this yet, but if I work hard, I will learn it.”

5. Find the Relevance

If you ever want to annoy your math teacher, tell them algebra has no relevance in the real world. Alternatively, try to figure out how what you are studying relates to your life. Studies have shown that high school students who were asked to write down how their subject matter related to their everyday life saw a significant jump in their GPA.

Before you start studying, try jotting down a few ways this information will come in handy in the future. Making this connection will help you see value in what you are doing and get you started on an assignment or topic.

Sometimes, the connection between what you are learning and how it applies to your life is not easy to see. Try searching the web for applications of your topic to help you see the real-life relevance of what you are learning.

6. Imagine Your Future Self

Imagine what your life will be like in 10 years. Are you successful? Do you have a great career that you love? Are you living in the best city in the world?

Now, imagine how you are going to get there.

Some people automatically connect the school work they are doing now with getting into a good college or training program that will lead to their desired future. Other students have difficulty making that connection.

Having the ability to imagine your future self is a skill that has been shown to improve motivation to study. It has also been linked to higher grades, lower cases of truancy and fewer discipline problems in school.

Next time you are faced with a particularly daunting assignment, close your eyes and picture what you want your life to be like. Then, recognize that in order to have the life you want, you have to do the assignment in front of you.

7. Reaffirm Your Personal Values

What do you value most? What are the two or three most important qualities you can possibly develop? Do you strive to be honest in everything you do? Do you value kindness? Is success the most important value in your life?

Taking a few minutes now and again to reaffirm your values by writing in a journal or meditating about them can help you focus your efforts in other areas of your life.

If you value family over everything, your ability to take care of your family will motivate you to study and do well in school. If you value honesty, you will never feel inclined to cheat on a test, but will work hard to study.

Ultimately, finding the motivation to study is less about going on a treasure hunt and more about changing the way you think about learning. Even implementing a few of these seven tips can help you stay focused and keep going.

Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures

Lazowski, R. A., & Hulleman, C. S. (2016). Motivation interventions in education: A meta-analytic review. Review of Educational research , 86(2), 602-640. DOI: 10.3102/0034654315617832

Study Smarter

Build your study skills with thinker academy.

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About Winston Sieck

Dr. Winston Sieck is a cognitive psychologist working to advance the development of thinking skills. He is founder and president of Global Cognition, and director of Thinker Academy .

Reader Interactions

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October 2, 2018 at 4:59 pm

Thanks for sharing this post. I plan to share it with my students this week. We’re implementing some growth mindset and mindfulness practices this year. This will be a good reinforcement of some of those ideas and will provide some new insight as well. I think it will be well-received. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how open they’ve been to these ideas so far. Thanks again.

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October 2, 2018 at 5:24 pm

That’s great, Tony. Excellent to hear the success you’re having with these ideas in your class. Thanks for stopping by..

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October 25, 2021 at 12:51 pm

Thanks for posting this . I felt it after reading it and I think that if I prepare it today tomarow will be good . From this I’ll stay motivated .

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October 2, 2018 at 6:54 pm

Thank greatly for this post. I’m studying at college at 45yrs ,sometimes want to give up studying but you came along with this great post. Great assurance and encouragement for young and old students alike.

Will have to share with my students as well,

kind regards,

clotilda Claudia Harry Solomon islands.

October 2, 2018 at 7:14 pm

Yep, we all need a little motivation boost at any age. Way to keep learning, Clotilda.

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November 16, 2018 at 12:08 am

Thanks for providing a resource for our children to grow in knowledge. Seems that no matter what the age, we all struggle with these issues.

November 17, 2018 at 4:39 pm

No doubt, Michael! Managing motivation is a life-long skill we can teach our kids. Good to see you here – thanks for stopping by..

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October 6, 2020 at 4:23 am

Thank you so much for motivating, the point you are mentioned such as set goal and go for mastery, be responsibility for learning, etc. all these points are really very helpful and they are very useful for study thank you so much for sharing

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February 3, 2021 at 5:18 am

Thank you! Without following all of these steps, it’s hard to have any significant academic success, I think. It helps me not to lose motivation with step-by-step planning: I divide the global goal into several small short-term goals and achieving even minimal results makes me happy and motivates me to try harder. Of course, there are also bad periods, when I feel exhausted and overwhelmed. But a little rest allows me to get back on track.

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Center for Teaching

Motivating students.

Yarborough, C. B., & Fedesco, H. N. (2020). Motivating students. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. Retrieved [todaysdate] from

motivation for an assignment


  • Expectancy – Value – Cost Model

ARCS Model of Instructional Design

Self-determination theory, additional strategies for motivating students.

Fostering student motivation is a difficult but necessary aspect of teaching that instructors must consider. Many may have led classes where students are engaged, motivated, and excited to learn, but have also led classes where students are distracted, disinterested, and reluctant to engage—and, probably, have led classes that are a mix. What factors influence students’ motivation? How can instructors promote students’ engagement and motivation to learn? While there are nuances that change from student to student, there are also models of motivation that serve as tools for thinking through and enhancing motivation in our classrooms. This guide will look at three frameworks: the expectancy-value-cost model of motivation, the ARCS model of instructional design, and self-determination theory. These three models highlight some of the major factors that influence student motivation, often drawing from and demonstrating overlap among their frameworks. The aim of this guide is to explore some of the literature on motivation and offer practical solutions for understanding and enhancing student motivation.

Expectancy – Value – Cost Model

The purpose of the original expectancy-value model was to predict students’ achievement behaviors within an educational context. The model has since been refined to include cost as one of the three major factors that influence student motivation. Below is a description of the three factors, according to the model, that influence motivation.

  • Expectancy refers to a student’s expectation that they can actually succeed in the assigned task. It energizes students because they feel empowered to meet the learning objectives of the course.
  • Value involves a student’s ability to perceive the importance of engaging in a particular task. This gives meaning to the assignment or activity because students are clear on why the task or behavior is valuable.
  • Cost points to the barriers that impede a student’s ability to be successful on an assignment, activity and/or the course at large. Therefore, students might have success expectancies and perceive high task value, however, they might also be aware of obstacles to their engagement or a potential negative affect resulting in performance of the task, which could decrease their motivation.

Three important questions to consider from the student perspective:

1. Expectancy – Can I do the task?

2. Value – Do I want to do the task?

• Intrinsic or interest value : the inherent enjoyment that an individual experiences from engaging in the task for its own sake.

• Utility value : the usefulness of the task in helping achieve other short term or long-term goals.

• Attainment value : the task affirms a valued aspect of an individual’s identity and meets a need that is important to the individual.

3. Cost – Am I free of barriers that prevent me from investing my time, energy, and resources into the activity?

It’s important to note that expectancy, value and cost are not shaped only when a student enters your classroom. These have been shaped over time by both individual and contextual factors. Each of your students comes in with an initial response, however there are strategies for encouraging student success, clarifying subject meaning and finding ways to mitigate costs that will increase your students’ motivation. Everyone may not end up at the same level of motivation, but if you can increase each student’s motivation, it will help the overall atmosphere and productivity of the course that you are teaching.

Strategies to Enhance Expectancy, Value, and Cost

Hulleman et. al (2016) summarize research-based sources that positively impact students’ expectancy beliefs, perceptions of task value, and perceptions of cost, which might point to useful strategies that instructors can employ.

Research-based sources of expectancy-related beliefs

When students perceive they have a high level of ability and/or skill at an activity, they are more likely to experience high expectancy (Bandura, 1997; Wigfield & Eccles, 2002).
When students believe that their effort will lead to learning, they are more likely to experience high expectancy (Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Dweck, 1999; Weiner, 1972).
When students are successful at an activity, or watch others have success, they are more likely to experience high expectancy (Bandura, 1997; Eccles et al., 1983).
When students are appropriately supported in completing an activity (e.g., through encouragement and having the resources necessary to complete the task), they are more likely to experience high expectancy (Bandura, 1997).
When students know what is expected of them on an activity, and have clearly defined goals, they are more likely to experience high expectancy (Pajares, 1996).
When the difficulty of the task or activity matches students’ skill levels, they are more likely to experience high expectancy (Eccles et al., 1983).
When students receive feedback that effort matters and skills are amenable to change and are task focused (rather than ability focused), they are more likely to experience high expectancy (Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Dweck, 1999).
When students engage in learning activities that challenge them to grow and learn, and experience growth in their skills and performance improvements, they are more likely to experience both high expectancy and value (Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Dweck, 1999; Hong et al., 1999).
Parents’ and teachers’ expectancies and attitudes shape children’/students’ expectancies; for instance, if teachers have high expectations for their students, these students in turn develop high expectancies (Bandura, 1997; Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Dweck, 1999; Eccles et al., 1983).
When students perceive a subject or task as being not difficult, they develop higher estimates of their own abilities for the subject or task (Bandura, 1997; Pajares, 1996; Wigfield & Eccles, 2002).
When students attribute success to a stable factor (ability), then they will have higher expectations for future success; if they attribute it to an unstable factor (good luck), they will be uncertain about future success (Weiner, 2010).

Research-based sources of value

When students find the activities and academic content enjoyable and interesting, they are more likely to experience high value (Renninger & Hidi, 2011).
When students are able to connect what they are learning to their personal lives and/or the real world, they are more likely to experience high value (Hulleman & Harackiewicz, 2009).
When students understand that an activity is meaningful and has a purpose, they are more likely to experience high value (Lepper & Henderlong, 2000).
When students engage in activities that are varied and novel, they are more likely to experience high value (e.g., catch and hold interest; Hidi & Renninger, 2006).
When students interact with teachers and other adults who are enthusiastic and passionate about learning, they are more likely to experience high value (Patrick, Hisley, & Kempler, 2000).
When students engage in learning activities that challenge them to grow and learn, and experience growth in their skills and performance improvements, they are more likely to experience both high expectancy and value (Dweck & Leggett, 1988; Dweck, 1999; Hong et al., 1999).
When students feel a sense of control and choice over their learning, they are more likely to experience high value (Patall et al., 2010).
When students experience meaningful student-student and student-teacher relationships, they are more likely to experience high value (Furrer & Skinner, 2003; Walton & Cohen, 2007).
When students receive external rewards and incentives for learning (e.g., prizes, food), they are more likely to experience high value to complete an activity but low value to produce quality work (Marinak & Gambrell, 2008).

Research-based sources of cost

When students feel that the workload is unreasonable (e.g., 5 hours/night) and/or unnecessary (e.g., busy work), they are more likely to experience increased cost (Parsons et al., 1980; Perez et al., 2014).
When student have too many other demands on their time or do not know how to effectively manage their time, they are more likely to experience high cost (Barron & Hulleman, 2015; Flake et al., 2015).
When students feel like the learning activity is not worth their time compared to other things they might do (e.g., socializing), they are more likely to experience high cost (Conley, 2012; Perez et al., 2014).
When students feel unsafe and uncomfortable, either physically or psychologically (e.g., nervous, bored, tired), they are more likely to experience high cost (Eccles et al., 1983; Ramirez & Beilock, 2011).
  • Barron K. E., & Hulleman, C. S. (2015). Expectancy-value-cost model of motivation. International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences, 8 , 503-509.
  • Hulleman, C. S., Barron, K. E., Kosovich, J. J., & Lazowski, R. A. (2016). Student motivation: Current theories, constructs, and interventions within an expectancy-value framework. In A. A. Lipnevich et al. (Eds.), Psychosocial Skills and School Systems in the 21st Century . Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.

The ARCS model of instructional design was created to improve the motivational appeal of instructional materials. The ARCS model is grounded in an expectancy-value framework, which assumes that people are motivated to engage in an activity if it’s perceived to be linked to the satisfaction of personal needs and if there is a positive expectancy for success. The purpose of this model was to fill a gap in the motivation literature by providing a model that could more clearly allow instructors to identify strategies to help improve motivation levels within their students.

ARCS is an acronym that stands for four factors, according to the model, that influence student motivation: attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction.

  • Attention refers to getting and sustaining student attention and directing attention to the appropriate stimuli.
  • Relevance involves making instruction applicable to present and future career opportunities, showing that learning in it of itself is enjoyable, and/or focusing on process over product by satisfying students’ psychological needs (e.g., need for achievement, need for affiliation).
  • Confidence includes helping students believe that some level of success is possible if effort is exerted.
  • Satisfaction is attained by helping students feel good about their accomplishments and allowing them to exert some degree of control over the learning experience.

To use the ARCS instructional design model, these steps can be followed:

  • Classify the problem
  • Analyze audience motivation
  • Prepare motivational objectives (i.e., identify which factor in the ARCS model to target based on the defined problem and audience analysis).
  • Generate potential motivational strategies for each objective
  • Select strategies that a) don’t take up too much instructional time; b) don’t detract from instructional objectives; c) fall within time and money constraints; d) are acceptable to the audience; and e) are compatible with the instructor’s personal style, preferences, and mode of instruction.
  • Prepare motivational elements
  • Integrate materials with instruction
  • Conduct a developmental try-out
  • Assess motivational outcomes

Strategies to Enhance Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Satisfaction

Keller (1987) provides several suggestions for how instructors can positively impact students’ attention, perceived relevance, confidence, and satisfaction.

Attention Strategies

Incongruity, Conflict

  • Introduce a fact that seems to contradict the learner’s past experience.
  • Present an example that does not seem to exemplify a given concept.
  • Introduce two equally plausible facts or principles, only one of which can be true.
  • Play devil’s advocate.


  • Show visual representations of any important object or set of ideas or relationships.
  • Give examples of every instructionally important concept or principle.
  • Use content-related anecdotes, case studies, biographies, etc.


  • In stand up delivery, vary the tone of your voice, and use body movement, pauses, and props.
  • Vary the format of instruction (information presentation, practice, testing, etc.) according to the attention span of the audience.
  • Vary the medium of instruction (platform delivery, film, video, print, etc.).
  • Break up print materials by use of white space, visuals, tables, different typefaces, etc.
  • Change the style of presentation (humorous-serious, fast-slow, loud-soft, active-passive, etc.).
  • Shift between student-instructor interaction and student-student interaction.
  • Where appropriate, use plays on words during redundant information presentation.
  • Use humorous introductions.
  • Use humorous analogies to explain and summarize.
  • Use creativity techniques to have learners create unusual analogies and associations to the content.
  • Build in problem solving activities at regular interval.
  • Give learners the opportunity to select topics, projects and assignments that appeal to their curiosity and need to explore.


  • Use games, role plays, or simulations that require learner participation.

Relevance Strategies

  • State explicitly how the instruction builds on the learner’s existing skills.
  • Use analogies familiar to the learner from past experience.
  • Find out what the learners’ interests are and relate them to the instruction.

Present Worth

  • State explicitly the present intrinsic value of learning the content, as distinct from its value as a link to future goals.

Future Usefulness

  • State explicitly how the instruction relates to future activities of the learner.
  • Ask learners to relate the instruction to their own future goals (future wheel).

Need Matching

  • To enhance achievement striving behavior, provide opportunities to achieve standards of excellence under conditions of moderate risk.
  • To make instruction responsive to the power motive, provide opportunities for responsibility, authority, and interpersonal influence.
  • To satisfy the need for affiliation, establish trust and provide opportunities for no-risk, cooperative interaction.
  • Bring in alumni of the course as enthusiastic guest lecturers.
  • In a self-paced course, use those who finish first as deputy tutors.
  • Model enthusiasm for the subject taught.
  • Provide meaningful alternative methods for accomplishing a goal.
  • Provide personal choices for organizing one’s work.

Confidence Strategies

Learning Requirements

  • Incorporate clearly stated, appealing learning goals into instructional materials.
  • Provide self-evaluation tools which are based on clearly stated goals.
  • Explain the criteria for evaluation of performance.
  • Organize materials on an increasing level of difficulty; that is, structure the learning material to provide a “conquerable” challenge.


  • Include statements about the likelihood of success with given amounts of effort and ability.
  • Teach students how to develop a plan of work that will result in goal accomplishment.
  • Help students set realistic goals.


  • Attribute student success to effort rather than luck or ease of task when appropriate (i.e., when you know it’s true!).
  • Encourage student efforts to verbalize appropriate attributions for both successes and failures.


  • Allow students opportunity to become increasingly independent in learning and practicing a skill.
  • Have students learn new skills under low risk conditions, but practice performance of well-learned tasks under realistic conditions.
  • Help students understand that the pursuit of excellence does not mean that anything short of perfection is failure; learn to feel good about genuine accomplishment.

Satisfaction Strategies

Natural Consequences

  • Allow a student to use a newly acquired skill in a realistic setting as soon as possible.
  • Verbally reinforce a student’s intrinsic pride in accomplishing a difficult task.
  • Allow a student who masters a task to help others who have not yet done so.

Unexpected Rewards

  • Reward intrinsically interesting task performance with unexpected, non-contingent rewards.
  • Reward boring tasks with extrinsic, anticipated rewards.

Positive Outcomes

  • Give verbal praise for successful progress or accomplishment.
  • Give personal attention to students.
  • Provide informative, helpful feedback when it is immediately useful.
  • Provide motivating feedback (praise) immediately following task performance.

Negative Influences

  • Avoid the use of threats as a means of obtaining task performance.
  • Avoid surveillance (as opposed to positive attention).
  • Avoid external performance evaluations whenever it is possible to help the student evaluate his or her own work.
  • Provide frequent reinforcements when a student is learning a new task.
  • Provide intermittent reinforcement as a student becomes more competent at a task.
  • Vary the schedule of reinforcements in terms of both interval and quantity.

Source: Keller, J. M. (1987). Development and use of the ARCS model of instructional design. Journal of Instructional Development, 10 , 2-10.

Self-determination theory (SDT) is a macro-theory of human motivation, emotion, and development that is concerned with the social conditions that facilitate or hinder human flourishing. While applicable to many domains, the theory has been commonly used to understand what moves students to act and persist in educational settings. SDT focuses on the factors that influence intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, which primarily involves the satisfaction of basic psychological needs.

Basic Psychological Needs

SDT posits that human motivation is guided by the need to fulfill basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

  • Autonomy refers to having a choice in one’s own individual behaviors and feeling that those behaviors stem from individual volition rather than from external pressure or control. In educational contexts, students feel autonomous when they are given options, within a structure, about how to perform or present their work.
  • Competence refers to perceiving one’s own behaviors or actions as effective and efficient. Students feel competent when they are able to track their progress in developing skills or an understanding of course material. This is often fostered when students receive clear feedback regarding their progression in the class.
  • Relatedness refers to feeling a sense of belonging, closeness, and support from others. In educational settings, relatedness is fostered when students feel connected, both intellectually and emotionally, to their peers and instructors in the class. This can often be accomplished through interactions that allow members of the class to get to know each other on a deeper, more personal level.

Continuum of Self-Determination

SDT also posits that motivation exists on a continuum. When an environment provides enough support for the satisfaction of the psychological needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness, an individual may experience self-determined forms of motivation: intrinsic motivation, integration, and identification. Self-determined motivation occurs when there is an internal perceived locus of causality (i.e., internal factors are the main driving force for the behavior). Integration and identification are also grouped as autonomous extrinsic motivation as the behavior is driven by internal and volitional choice.

Intrinsic motivation , which is the most self-determined type of motivation, occurs when individuals naturally and spontaneously perform behaviors as a result of genuine interest and enjoyment.

Integrated regulation is when individuals identify the importance of a behavior, integrate this behavior into their self-concept, and pursue activities that align with this self-concept.

Identified regulation is where people identify and recognize the value of a behavior, which then drives their action.

When an environment does not provide enough support for the satisfaction of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, an individual may experience non-self-determined forms of motivation: introjection and external regulation. Introjection and external regulation are grouped as controlled extrinsic motivation because people enact these behaviors due to external or internal pressures.

Introjected regulation occurs when individuals are controlled by internalized consequences administered by the individual themselves, such as pride, shame, or guilt.

External regulation is when people’s behaviors are controlled exclusively by external factors, such as rewards or punishments.

Finally, at the bottom of the continuum is amotivation, which is lowest form of motivation.

Amotivation exists when there is a complete lack of intention to behave and there is no sense of achievement or purpose when the behavior is performed.

Below is a figure depicting the continuum of self-determination taken from Lonsdale, Hodge, and Rose (2009).

motivation for an assignment

Although having intrinsically motivated students would be the ultimate goal, it may not be a practical one within educational settings. That’s because there are several tasks that are required of students to meet particular learning objectives that may not be inherently interesting or enjoyable. Instead, instructors can employ various strategies to satisfy students’ basic psychological needs, which should move their level of motivation along the continuum, and hopefully lead to more self-determined forms of motivation, thus yielding the greatest rewards in terms of student academic outcomes.

Below are suggestions for how instructors can positively impact students’ perceived autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

Strategies to Enhance Autonomy, Competence, and Relatedness

Autonomy strategies.

  • Have students choose paper topics
  • Have students choose the medium with which they will present their work
  • Co-create rubrics with students (e.g., participation rubrics, assignment rubrics)
  • Have students choose the topics you will cover in a particular unit
  • Drop the lowest assessment or two (e.g., quizzes, exams, homework)
  • Have students identify preferred assignment deadlines
  • Gather mid-semester feedback and make changes based on student suggestions
  • Provide meaningful rationales for learning activities
  • Acknowledge students’ feelings about the learning process or learning activities throughout the course

Competence Strategies

  • Set high but achievable learning objectives
  • Communicate to students that you believe they can meet your high expectations
  • Communicate clear expectations for each assignment (e.g., use rubrics)
  • Include multiple low-stakes assessments
  • Give students practice with feedback before assessments
  • Provide lots of early feedback to students
  • Have students provide peer feedback
  • Scaffold assignments
  • Praise student effort and hard work
  • Provide a safe environment for students to fail and then learn from their mistakes

Relatedness Strategies

  • Share personal anecdotes
  • Get to know students via small talk before/after class and during breaks
  • Require students to come to office hours (individually or in small groups)
  • Have students complete a survey where they share information about themselves
  • Use students’ names (perhaps with the help of name tents)
  • Have students incorporate personal interests into their assignments
  • Share a meal with students or bring food to class
  • Incorporate group activities during class, and allow students to work with a variety of peers
  • Arrange formal study groups
  • Convey warmth, caring, and respect to students
  • Lonsdale, C., Hodge, K., & Rose, E. (2009). Athlete burnout in elite sport: A self-determination perspective. Journal of Sports Sciences, 27, 785-795.
  • Niemiec, C. P., & Ryan, R. M. (2009). Autonomy, competence, and relatedness in the classroom: Applying self-determination theory to educational practice. Theory and Research in Education, 7, 133-144.
  • Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness . New York: Guilford.

Below are some additional research-based strategies for motivating students to learn.

  • Become a role model for student interest . Deliver your presentations with energy and enthusiasm. As a display of your motivation, your passion motivates your students. Make the course personal, showing why you are interested in the material.
  • Get to know your students.  You will be able to better tailor your instruction to the students’ concerns and backgrounds, and your personal interest in them will inspire their personal loyalty to you. Display a strong interest in students’ learning and a faith in their abilities.
  • Use examples freely.  Many students want to be shown why a concept or technique is useful before they want to study it further. Inform students about how your course prepares students for future opportunities.
  • Teach by discovery. Students find it satisfying to reason through a problem and discover the underlying principle on their own.
  • Cooperative learning activities are particularly effective as they also provide positive social pressure.
  • Set realistic performance goals  and help students achieve them by encouraging them to set their own reasonable goals. Design assignments that are appropriately challenging in view of the experience and aptitude of the class.
  • Place appropriate emphasis on testing and grading.  Tests should be a means of showing what students have mastered, not what they have not. Avoid grading on the curve and give everyone the opportunity to achieve the highest standard and grades.
  • Be free with praise and constructive in criticism.  Negative comments should pertain to particular performances, not the performer. Offer nonjudgmental feedback on students’ work, stress opportunities to improve, look for ways to stimulate advancement, and avoid dividing students into sheep and goats.
  • Give students as much control over their own education as possible.  Let students choose paper and project topics that interest them. Assess them in a variety of ways (tests, papers, projects, presentations, etc.) to give students more control over how they show their understanding to you. Give students options for how these assignments are weighted.
  • Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • DeLong, M., & Winter, D. (2002).  Learning to teach and teaching to learn mathematics: Resources for professional development . Washington, D.C.: Mathematical Association of America.
  • Nilson, L. (2016). Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors  (4 th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass.

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Learning Center

Do you ever procrastinate to avoid unpleasant tasks or assignments? Do you find it hard to get started? Do you struggle to stay focused and on task when working from your dorm room, house, or apartment? Motivating yourself to go to class, complete assignments, study, and do all the other things required of you in college can be difficult—but it’s crucial to your college success. Research shows that students can learn how to become better learners by using effective motivation strategies. Successful students know how to self-regulate (control) their own learning and the factors that impact their learning. Fortunately, there are strategies for increasing motivation and self-efficacy, which can in turn increase chances of academic success and well-being.

This handout explores common challenges when it comes to accomplishing tasks and shares several tips and strategies to improve your self-motivation.

Effort over ability

One of the key differences between people who do and don’t succeed is not their ability level but their effort and motivation levels . Few people wake up wanting to do unpleasant or boring tasks. The ones who do them and succeed in them are the ones who believe they can and motivate themselves to do them even when they don’t feel like it. Here are some specific strategies you can use to develop your self-motivation and improve your overall success.

Motivational strategies

Strategies to set yourself up for success.

Set clear goals . Include daily, weekly, semester, and long-term goals. Write them down somewhere easily visible. Use SMART goals to be specific and create a plan: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound. For example: Instead of saying, “I want to get better grades,” say something like, “I want to get at least an 85% on my BIO exam on March 5.” Even better, set up concrete goals (e.g., increased study hours, peer tutoring) that help you track your progress toward that long-term goal. For example, instead of saying, “I want to do well in my online classes,” say something like, “I want to devote thirty minutes tomorrow to taking notes on my Spanish textbook before starting my online homework.”

Help yourself focus. Eliminate or limit things that are distracting and cause you to procrastinate . Take distracting apps off your phone, turn off the TV, study outside of your dorm room, keep your phone/laptop away during class or study times, create a designated study space in your bedroom or home, block Netflix, clear out the junk food, etc. If you know you struggle with something, make it more difficult for you to indulge in that temptation.

Pace yourself. Chunk your study, work, and reading times into small sections (30-60 minutes) with breaks in between. Breaks are important for your focus, health, and motivation and should be worked into any study time. If you are going to be studying or working for longer, go back and forth between one task or class and another.

Prioritize. Study early in the day and do the most challenging or unpleasant tasks first. Research shows that tackling difficult tasks first thing in the day can make you feel better throughout the rest of the day and be more productive. Doing so keeps you from procrastinating all day and having that dreaded feeling of knowing that you need to do something unpleasant.

Location, location, location. Think about where you work best and where you will be most motivated to get to work and stay working. For most people, their dorm room or bed are not ideal, as they come with many distractions. Some students focus better in a public place like the library or a coffee shop, while others prefer silence and isolation, like a quiet and secluded room on campus. Some students benefit from blocking off an area in their home that they use exclusively for studying and working on projects.

Self-care strategies

Get enough sleep . Aim for at least 7 hours a night. Sleep is important to motivation. If you aren’t well-rested and are running on fumes, it’s a lot more difficult to be productive, stay focused, and motivate yourself.

Build a routine and healthy habits . Structure healthy habits like meals, sleep, exercise, and study times into your daily schedule and then stick with it. Motivating yourself to accomplish tasks becomes easier when you make it a part of your regular routine.

Eat and drink healthily. Drink enough water—your body needs water to function and improve energy. Eat regularly, don’t skip meals, and try to eat healthy foods. You need energy to complete tasks, and it’s much easier to get started and stay focused on work if you are well fed.

Metacognitive strategies

Reflect on what makes you happy, what fulfills you, and what you are passionate about. Try to align what you do with things that make you happy and fulfill you. If you spend all of your time doing or pursuing things that you do not like or care about, you may never be fully motivated. Choosing pathways and activities that interest you is one of the biggest ways to better motivate yourself.

Give yourself rewards for accomplishing difficult tasks and identify strategies that help keep you accountable.

Think about what support you need in order to achieve your goals and then get the support you need. This could include investing in a new planner, attending peer tutoring, or making an appointment with an academic coach at the Learning Center.

Accept that you aren’t perfect. Many students lack motivation because they are afraid of not performing as well as they would like. Combat your fear of failure by telling yourself that your self-worth does not depend on your ability to perform. Include your image of success to include personal and social success and growth.

Write a letter to your future self to remind yourself of your goals. Read this message when you find yourself feeling unmotivated.

Reflect. When you have a task to accomplish, reflect before, during, and after. Think about your feelings towards the task, what you need to do to accomplish it, and how you feel when you are done.

Talk to yourself out loud about your dreams and goals and speak encouraging, positive words to yourself. Compliment yourself and tell yourself you can do it.

List out what is preventing you from doing what you need to do, then find ways to tackle those things. Be specific.

Think long-term. Keep focused on your long-term goals and think about them when you’re feeling unmotivated. Reminder yourself of how this task or step gets you closer to your big goals. Print out a picture of where you want to be in the future and post it on your wall or mirror.

If you’re feeling stuck, visualize yourself as you want to be in the future. Picture yourself in your future career or situation and remind yourself of what you are working for.

Stay positive and optimistic. Avoid complaining or commiserating at times when you planned to make progress towards your goals. If the problems or obstacles can be set aside till later, it may help to write them down to ensure you get back to them. If there’s a problem that cannot be set aside, seek out resources and support to help you address what’s wrong.

Think about consequences. Sometimes thinking about the negative consequences of not doing a particular task you might be stuck on can be motivating. Alternatively, think about the reward of accomplishing the goal (or at least the feeling of being getting it over with) as a motivator.

Accountability strategies

Set visual reminders and alarms on your phone and laptop to remind and encourage yourself of your goal. Consider changing the background of your phone and laptop to a motivational quote or simply to saying the goal that you want to reach. Create positive and encouraging visual reminders and motivators to hang on your bedroom wall or mirror.

Share your goals with a friend, classmate, or someone in your life. Reach out to someone and ask them to help keep you accountable with your work and goals. Check in with this person face-to-face or online regularly to discuss your progress.

Meet with an academic coach at the Learning Center to talk through your goals and have accountability.

Attend office hours to discuss the class with your professor and gain specific tips and suggestions.

Check out some of the study groups and tutoring that the Learning Center offers:

  • STEM study groups
  • ADHD/LD resources
  • Learning Center Workshops

Worked consulted

Elton, C. and Gostick, A. (2014). What motivates me: Put your passions to work. Kamas: The Culture Works Press.

Dembo, M. and Seli, H. (2013). Motivation and learning strategies for college success: A focus on self-regulated learning. New York: Taylor & Francis.

Holschuh, J. and Nist, S. (2000). Active learning: Strategies for college success. Massachusetts: Allyn & Bacon.

Pychyl, T. (2010). The procrastinator’s digest. Canada: Howling Pines Publishers.

Newport, C. (2007). How to become a straight A student: The unconventional strategies real college students use to score high while studying less. New York: Broadway Books.

Ryan, M.J. (2006). This year I will…How to finally change a habit, keep a resolution, or make a dream come true. New York: Broadway Books.

Tracy, B. (2007). Eat that frog! 21 great ways to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

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Motivation and Engagement in Student Assignments

When students have the opportunity to attend classes that are engaging, creative, and relatable to their lives, they are more likely to succeed academically. Unfortunately, several new analyses have found that far too many students experience classroom assignments that fail to prepare them for life beyond school.

In a new report , we examined two powerful levers for engaging learners — choice and relevancy — and explored how educators can use these levers to increase student motivation and engagement.

Download the Full Report

“Classroom assignments — the daily tasks we ask our students to do — are a powerful lens for viewing teaching and learning. They reflect how students experience a curriculum and reveal a teacher’s expectations of what students can achieve.”

— Tanji Reed Marshall, Ph.D., senior associate of P-12 practice

motivation for an assignment

Under our current college- and career-ready standards, students are expected to collaborate and demonstrate critical thinking and problem-solving skills, all of which require they be actively engaged in their learning. Our findings show that less than 3 percent of middle school math assignments and less than 15 percent of middle school literacy assignments allowed for student choice and relevancy.

In “ Motivation and Engagement in Student Assignments: The Role of Choice and Relevancy ,” we explore how educators can bring choice and relevancy into their daily assignments. The authors explain how choice can and should be provided in terms of content, product, and process.

Teachers bring relevancy to assignments when they:

  • Teach rigorous content using themes across disciplines, cultures, and generations; consider essential questions; and explore universal understandings
  • Use real-world materials and events to explore salient topics
  • Connect with the values, interests, and goals of their students

motivation for an assignment

“In order to increase student motivation and engagement, students should be given meaningful choices in their learning, and tasks should be relevant, using real-world experiences and examples. As they work to motivate and engage students, educators should be cautious about using gimmicks or artificial techniques with unproven results. Rather, they should focus on connecting with students, bridging their known worlds with new concepts and ideas.”

—Joan Dabrowski, Ed.D , assistant superintendent for teaching and learning in the Wellesley Public Schools

There is clearly work to do if we are committed to the idea that student motivation and engagement are important and will lead to improved academic achievement. This begins, first and foremost, with knowing and valuing students.

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Increasing student motivation with writing assignments

Instructors and students alike recognize that getting an early start on an assignment and spending time on task can lead to both smoother writing processes and stronger written products. Nonetheless, students often seem to wait too long to get started, fail to effectively manage their time when assigned with an unfamiliar writing task, or appear to put forth minimal effort.  This Tip addresses some key factors that influence student motivation and discuss instructional strategies to both promote student self-efficacy and reduce the consequences of procrastination due to demotivation.

Some critical considerations for motivation


Motivation is a challenging concept for some instructors, both because we often assume motivation is a matter of self-discipline and because the extrinsic demands of receiving a score and completing a course might seem sufficient external pressure to motivate students to produce their best work. As experts in our fields, we may always been motivated by the questions, concepts, and practices associated with doing our work with little need for encouragement. Nevertheless, because students are balancing multiple priorities (and multiple classes and assignments), it is worth considering key factors related to motivation. Wigfield and Eccles (2002) provides a wide-ranging overview of psychological theories of motivation that emphasize two key concepts: value and expectancy. 

Perception of value : In discussing the values associated with motivation, they identify attainment value (the satisfaction of completing meaningful work), intrinsic value (the appreciation of doing the task, rather than simply completing it) and instrumental value (the value derived from the ability to gain extrinsic rewards).

Expectancies : Expectancies are the set of beliefs about a given task, including the perception of challenge or difficulty, the perception of competence or self-efficacy, and the perceived likelihood of a desirable outcome.

Together, these considerations explain students’ choice of tasks and their likelihood of persistence.

Strategies for addressing perception of value

  • Design your courses and assignments to build upon prior knowledge: Making meaningful connections to students’ prior experience and prior knowledge can increase the sense of attainment associated with new writing tasks. This strategy may involve explicitly describing the relevance of prior course work (“As you remember from your Principles course…”) or asking students to make connections to their own relevant prior knowledge.
  • Make explicit connections between students’ goals and aspirations and the writing task: Show students that they will be able to use skills developed in this writing tasks in the context of future assignments. For example, an annotated bibliography assignment involves simple skills of summary, but the ability to summarize individual selections leads to more cognitively complex tasks (synthesizing information) and more challenging writing assignments (literature reviews and research papers).
  • Provide students with skills and information at the time of need: For large projects, students benefit from having a clear sense of the finished product. However, it can be valuable to offer students glimpses of documents in process and to address particular skills at the time of need. For instance, students might be asked to bring drafts of their completed charts and tables for an initial workshop and discussion before completing a results section of a lab report or research paper. 

Strategies for addressing expectancies

  • Describe how prior writing tasks compare with new tasks: Draw explicit connections to the ways a new writing task relates to a prior task, and to the important differences. For example, if a previous class activity included producing an annotated bibliography, you might note that while a literature review requires a summary of existing scholarship, it also requires that students make a larger claim about the state of research. 
  • Provide clear success criteria: Students often ask for sample assignments or previous student work for models. Rather than providing a single example, describe the criteria that you will use to assess the students’ work and provide multiple examples of specific textual features that show what successful writing looks like.
  • F. Pajares, Self-efficacy beliefs, motivation, and achievement in writing .
  • R. Bruning,  M. Dempsey, D. F. Kauffman, C. McKim, and S. Zumbrunn. Examining dimensions of self-efficacy in writing .

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Our purpose is to provide practical strategies for teaching with writing. Our goal is to offer timely and pragmatic support to faculty members and instructors who teach with writing in undergraduate and graduate courses in all disciplinary areas.

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Motivation: The Driving Force Behind Our Actions

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

motivation for an assignment

Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.

motivation for an assignment

Verywell / Emily Roberts 

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The term motivation describes why a person does something. It is the driving force behind human actions. Motivation is the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors.

For instance, motivation is what helps you lose extra weight, or pushes you to get that promotion at work. In short, motivation causes you to act in a way that gets you closer to your goals. Motivation includes the biological , emotional , social , and cognitive forces that activate human behavior.

Motivation also involves factors that direct and maintain goal-directed actions. Although, such motives are rarely directly observable. As a result, we must often infer the reasons why people do the things that they do based on observable behaviors.

Learn the types of motivation that exist and how we use them in our everyday lives. And if it feels like you've lost your motivation, do not worry. There are many ways to develop or improve your self-motivation levels.

Press Play for Advice on Motivation

Hosted by therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares an exercise you can use to help you perform your best. Click below to listen now.

Follow Now : Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts

What Are the Types of Motivation?

The two main types of motivation are frequently described as being either extrinsic or intrinsic.

  • Extrinsic motivation arises from outside of the individual and often involves external rewards such as trophies, money, social recognition, or praise.
  • Intrinsic motivation is internal and arises from within the individual, such as doing a complicated crossword puzzle purely for the gratification of solving a problem.

A Third Type of Motivation?

Some research suggests that there is a third type of motivation: family motivation. An example of this type is going to work when you are not motivated to do so internally (no intrinsic motivation), but because it is a means to support your family financially.

Why Motivation Is Important

Motivation serves as a guiding force for all human behavior. So, understanding how motivation works and the factors that may impact it can be important for several reasons.

Understanding motivation can:

  • Increase your efficiency as you work toward your goals
  • Drive you to take action
  • Encourage you to engage in health-oriented behaviors
  • Help you avoid unhealthy or maladaptive behaviors, such as risk-taking and addiction
  • Help you feel more in control of your life
  • Improve your overall well-being and happiness

Click Play to Learn More About Motivation

This video has been medically reviewed by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE .

What Are the 3 Components of Motivation?

If you've ever had a goal (like wanting to lose 20 pounds or run a marathon), you probably already know that simply having the desire to accomplish these things is not enough. You must also be able to persist through obstacles and have the endurance to keep going in spite of difficulties faced.

These different elements or components are needed to get and stay motivated. Researchers have identified three major components of motivation: activation, persistence, and intensity.

  • Activation is the decision to initiate a behavior. An example of activation would be enrolling in psychology courses in order to earn your degree.
  • Persistence is the continued effort toward a goal even though obstacles may exist. An example of persistence would be showing up for your psychology class even though you are tired from staying up late the night before.
  • Intensity is the concentration and vigor that goes into pursuing a goal. For example, one student might coast by without much effort (minimal intensity) while another student studies regularly, participates in classroom discussions, and takes advantage of research opportunities outside of class (greater intensity).

The degree of each of these components of motivation can impact whether you achieve your goal. Strong activation, for example, means that you are more likely to start pursuing a goal. Persistence and intensity will determine if you keep working toward that goal and how much effort you devote to reaching it.

Tips for Improving Your Motivation

All people experience fluctuations in their motivation and willpower . Sometimes you feel fired up and highly driven to reach your goals. Other times, you might feel listless or unsure of what you want or how to achieve it.

If you're feeling low on motivation, there are steps you can take to help increase your drive. Some things you can do to develop or improve your motivation include:

  • Adjust your goals to focus on things that really matter to you. Focusing on things that are highly important to you will help push you through your challenges more than goals based on things that are low in importance.
  • If you're tackling something that feels too big or too overwhelming, break it up into smaller, more manageable steps. Then, set your sights on achieving only the first step. Instead of trying to lose 50 pounds, for example, break this goal down into five-pound increments.
  • Improve your confidence . Research suggests that there is a connection between confidence and motivation. So, gaining more confidence in yourself and your skills can impact your ability to achieve your goals.
  • Remind yourself about what you've achieved in the past and where your strengths lie. This helps keep self-doubts from limiting your motivation.
  • If there are things you feel insecure about, try working on making improvements in those areas so you feel more skilled and capable.

Causes of Low Motivation

There are a few things you should watch for that might hurt or inhibit your motivation levels. These include:

  • All-or-nothing thinking : If you think that you must be absolutely perfect when trying to reach your goal or there is no point in trying, one small slip-up or relapse can zap your motivation to keep pushing forward.
  • Believing in quick fixes : It's easy to feel unmotivated if you can't reach your goal immediately but reaching goals often takes time.
  • Thinking that one size fits all : Just because an approach or method worked for someone else does not mean that it will work for you. If you don't feel motivated to pursue your goals, look for other things that will work better for you.

Motivation and Mental Health

Sometimes a persistent lack of motivation is tied to a mental health condition such as depression . Talk to your doctor if you are feeling symptoms of apathy and low mood that last longer than two weeks.

Theories of Motivation

Throughout history, psychologists have proposed different theories to explain what motivates human behavior. The following are some of the major theories of motivation.

The instinct theory of motivation suggests that behaviors are motivated by instincts, which are fixed and inborn patterns of behavior. Psychologists such as William James, Sigmund Freud , and William McDougal have proposed several basic human drives that motivate behavior. They include biological instincts that are important for an organism's survival—such as fear, cleanliness, and love.

Drives and Needs

Many behaviors such as eating, drinking, and sleeping are motivated by biology. We have a biological need for food, water, and sleep. Therefore, we are motivated to eat, drink, and sleep. The drive reduction theory of motivation suggests that people have these basic biological drives, and our behaviors are motivated by the need to fulfill these drives.

Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs is another motivation theory based on a desire to fulfill basic physiological needs. Once those needs are met, it expands to our other needs, such as those related to safety and security, social needs, self-esteem, and self-actualization.

Arousal Levels

The arousal theory of motivation suggests that people are motivated to engage in behaviors that help them maintain their optimal level of arousal. A person with low arousal needs might pursue relaxing activities such as reading a book, while those with high arousal needs might be motivated to engage in exciting, thrill-seeking behaviors such as motorcycle racing.

The Bottom Line

Psychologists have proposed many different theories of motivation . The reality is that there are numerous different forces that guide and direct our motivations.

Understanding motivation is important in many areas of life beyond psychology, from parenting to the workplace. You may want to set the best goals and establish the right reward systems to motivate others as well as to  increase your own motivation .

Knowledge of motivating factors (and how to manipulate them) is used in marketing and other aspects of industrial psychology. It's an area where there are many myths, and everyone can benefit from knowing what works with motivation and what doesn't.

Nevid JS.  Psychology: Concepts and Applications .

Tranquillo J, Stecker M.  Using intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in continuing professional education .  Surg Neurol Int.  2016;7(Suppl 7):S197-9. doi:10.4103/2152-7806.179231

Menges JI, Tussing DV, Wihler A, Grant AM. When job performance is all relative: How family motivation energizes effort and compensates for intrinsic motivation . Acad Managem J . 2016;60(2):695-719. doi:10.5465/amj.2014.0898

Hockenbury DH, Hockenbury SE. Discovering Psychology .

Zhou Y, Siu AF. Motivational intensity modulates the effects of positive emotions on set shifting after controlling physiological arousal . Scand J Psychol . 2015;56(6):613-21. doi:10.1111/sjop.12247

Mystkowska-Wiertelak A, Pawlak M. Designing a tool for measuring the interrelationships between L2 WTC, confidence, beliefs, motivation, and context . Classroom-Oriented Research . 2016. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-30373-4_2

Myers DG.  Exploring Social Psychology .

Siegling AB, Petrides KV. Drive: Theory and construct validation .  PLoS One . 2016;11(7):e0157295. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0157295

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

The Vital Importance and Benefits of Motivation

motivational benefits

Otherwise, we would have been born as a sloth or a panda bear (no offense to these lovely creatures).

It is in our nature to strive, to want, and to move in a direction of something we desire and deem valuable.

Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.

William James

This article explains the reasons why understanding human motivation is important and well worth the time spent on learning to increase it. It lists many benefits of healthy motivation and distinguishes the types of motivation that are more effective in dealing with our complex and rapidly changing environment.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Goal Achievement Exercises for free . These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients create actionable goals and master techniques to create lasting behavior change.

This Article Contains:

Why is motivation important, benefits of motivation, extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation.

  • Self-Motivation

A Motivational Quote

11 top motivational videos, a take-home message.

Why is it important to understand motivation? Why do we care about what people want and why they want it? How about because it can improve our lives.

Understanding motivation gives us many valuable insights into human nature. It explains why we set goals, strive for achievement and power, why we have desires for psychological intimacy and biological sex, why we experience emotions like fear, anger, and compassion.

Learning about motivation is valuable because it helps us understand where motivation comes from, why it changes, what increases and decreases it, what aspects of it can and cannot be changed, and helps us answer the question of why some types of motivation are more beneficial than others.

Motivation reflects something unique about each one of us and allows us to gain valued outcomes like improved performance, enhanced wellbeing, personal growth, or a sense of purpose. Motivation is a pathway to change our way of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

Finding ways to increase motivation is crucial because it allows us to change behavior, develop competencies, be creative, set goals, grow interests, make plans, develop talents, and boost engagement. Applying motivational science to everyday life helps us to motivate employees, coach athletes, raise children, counsel clients, and engage students.

The benefits of motivation are visible in how we live our lives. As we are constantly responding to changes in our environment, we need motivation to take corrective action in the face of fluctuating circumstances. Motivation is a vital resource that allows us to adapt, function productively, and maintain wellbeing in the face of a constantly changing stream of opportunities and threats.

I have learned from my mistakes, and I am sure I can repeat them exactly.

There are many health benefits of increased motivation. Motivation as a psychological state is linked to our physiology. When our motivation is depleted, our functioning and wellbeing suffer.

Some studies show that when we feel helpless in exerting control for example, we tend to give up quickly when challenged (Peterson, Maier, & Seligman, 1993). Others have proven than when we find ourselves coerced, we lose access to our inner motivational resources (Deci, 1995).

High-quality motivation allows us to thrive, while its deficit causes us to flounder. Societal benefits of increased motivation are visible in greater student engagement, better job satisfaction in employees, flourishing relationships, and institutions.

But unhealthy fluctuations in motivation also explain addiction, gambling, risk-taking, and excessive internet usage. The motivation that underlies addictive behaviors shares the neurological underpinning associated with dopamine centric rewards system and tricky inner working of the pleasure cycle.

This makes it challenging and often difficult to change behavior in situations involving addiction. See our article on Motivational Interviewing to learn more about the stages of change and motivational interviewing techniques practitioners use to motivate clients to change unwanted behaviors.

The distinction between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation goes back to Deci and Ryan’s (2008) Self-Determination Theory of motivation.

Extrinsic motivation involves engaging in an activity because it leads to a tangible reward or avoids punishment.

Intrinsic motivation involves doing something because it is both interesting and deeply satisfying. We perform such activities for the positive feelings they create. Studies have consistently shown that intrinsic motivation leads to increased persistence, greater psychological wellbeing, and enhanced performance.

Deci and Ryan (2008) assume that humans are naturally self-motivated, curious, and interested, but the right conditions must be in place to be intrinsically motivated.

The three basic and universal psychological needs of autonomy, relatedness, and competence are foundational for human flourishing and optimal motivation, according to Susan Fowler (2019).

Satisfying the need for autonomy, relatedness, and competence leads to engaged, passionate individuals doing high-quality work in any domain. Therefore, we share tips and ideas for building the ideal working environment to promote intrinsic motivation.

motivation for an assignment

Is any source of motivation more potent or more effective in motivating people than the other? Are people primarily motivated by internal motives or by external rewards, or are people driven equally by internal and external triggers?

Human motives are complex, and as social creatures, we are embedded into our environment, and social groups are often an important source of influence through the presence of rewards and considerations of potential consequences of our choices on those around us.

Self-Determination Theory (SDT) explains how external events like rewards or praise sometimes produce positive effects on motivation, but at other times can be quite detrimental (Ryan & Deci, 2008). The hidden cost of certain types of rewards is that they undermine intrinsic motivation by decreasing the sense of autonomy and competence.

Self-determination Theory

There is a tradeoff between satisfying and undermining the need for competence when we offer rewards (Reeve, 2018). This form of extrinsic motivation also can undermine our sense of autonomy since rewards are used for both purposes: to control behavior and to affirm someone of their level of competence. We want to reward in a way that encourages competence without threatening the sense of autonomy.

My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.

Indira Gandhi

Rewards should be reserved for activities that are not interesting and should be given when not expected. Praise is preferable to monetary rewards, for example, as it supports psychological needs and is of more lasting value (Reeve, 2018).

Similarly to rewards, imposed goals were found to narrow focus and impair creativity. Studies show that imposed goal setting increases unethical behavior and risk-taking, narrows focus, and decreases cooperation, intrinsic motivation, and creativity. This is an excellent example of goals gone wild (Pink, 2009).

Much of contemporary research shows that intrinsic motivation is more effective more often and of more enduring value. In some circumstances, however, extrinsic motivation may be more appropriate, as in the case of uninteresting activities.

It is also possible to make use of incentives more effective by encouraging people to identify with it and integrate it into their sense of self (Reeve, 2018). To give an example of identifying and integrating extrinsic motives respectively would be like describing the difference between saying: “ I do this because it’s the right thing to do ” versus “ I do this because I am a good person. ”

motivation for an assignment

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Intrinsic motivation is inherent in the activities we perform for pure enjoyment or satisfaction. We engage in intrinsically motivated behavior because we want to experience the activity for its own sake. Unlike extrinsically motivated behavior, it is freely chosen (Deci, & Ryan, 1985).

Intrinsic motivation can be driven by curiosity, which is linked to a desire to know and motivates us to learn and explore our environment for answers (Loewenstein, 1994). Intrinsic motivation can also come from the need to actively interact and control our environment. The effectance motivation theory explains how intrinsic motivation drives us to develop competence (White, 1959).

Finally, Allport’s concept of the functional autonomy of motives explains how behavior originally performed for extrinsic reasons can become something to perform for its own sake (1937).

Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.

William Jennings Bryan

When it comes to intrinsic motivation, it is important to distinguish between activities that are intrinsically motivating and the development of what Csikszentmihalyi calls autotelic self (1975, 1988). The term autotelic is derived from the Greek word auto, which means self and telos meaning goal.

Intrinsic activities are self-contained because performing them is a reward in itself. The autotelic experience produced by an intrinsic activity makes us pay attention to what we are engaged in for its own sake and away from consequences. When the experience is intrinsically rewarding, life is justified in the present and not tied to some hypothetical future gain.

The most important characteristic of the autotelic experience is its intrinsically motivated nature. Professor Csíkszentmihályi, who coined the terms flow, defined this optimal experience as a pursuit of enjoyable, interesting activities for the sake of the experience itself, where the satisfaction derived from the action itself is the motivational factor (1990).

An autotelic self actively seeks out intrinsically motivating activities. A person who is said to have an autotelic personality values opportunities where she or he can experience complete absorption in the tasks at hand. They transform the self by making it more complex. A complex self has these five characteristics:

  • Clarity of goals
  • Self as the center of control
  • Choice and knowing that life is not happening to you
  • Commitment and care for what you are doing
  • Challenge and increased craving for novelty (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975, 1988).

Autotelic self, according to Csikszentmihalyi, tends to create order out of chaos because it sees a tragedy as an opportunity to rise to the occasion and tends to focus all the psychic energy on overcoming the challenge created by the defeat (1990). Cultivating autotelic personality is, therefore, a worthwhile endeavor as it breeds resilience.

Falko and Engeser, in their recent study on motivation and flow, used the term activity related motivation as a substitute for intrinsic motivation to speak more specifically to the “Extended Cognitive Model of Motivation” (2018).

They measured various activity-related incentives in qualitative and quantitative ways and found the experience of flow to represent one of the most intensely studied. Positive incentives stemming from learning goal orientation, experience of competence, interest, and involvement lead to us engaging in activities purely for the enjoyment of it (Falko & Engeser, 2018).

Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.

Seneca, 4 B.C.–A.D. 65

Professor Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi, who developed the theory of flow, argues that happiness depends on inner harmony, not on the control we can exert over our environment or circumstances, and therefore describes flow as an optimal state of being that brings order to consciousness.

He discovered, in his years of research into creativity and productivity and interviews with people who were deemed successful in a wide range of professions and many of whom were Nobel Prize winners, that the secret to their optimal performance was their ability to enter the flow state frequently and deliberately.

They would describe feeling a sense of competence and control, a loss of self-consciousness, and such intense absorption in the task at hand that they would lose track of time.

Many of the most accomplished and creative people are at their peak when they experience “ a unified flowing from one moment to the next, in which we feel in control of our actions, and in which there is little distinction between self and environment; between stimulus and response; or between past, present, and future ” (Csíkszentmihályi, 1997, p. 37).

The contemporary research on motivation shows that intrinsic motivation that originates from internal motives is often experienced as more immediate and potent than extrinsic motivation.

Today we know that intrinsic motivation affects the quality of behavior more, such as school work, while extrinsic motivation influences the quantity of behavior more (Deckers, 2014).

It has also been shown that intrinsically motivated goal pursuit has greater long-term outcomes because it satisfies our psychological needs for autonomy and competence, and in turn, creates more positive states which reinforce the positive feedback loop and increase the likelihood of repetition (Reeve, 2018).

motivation for an assignment

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No one knows more about self-motivation that the authors of self-determination theory . Based on the assumption that we have an innate tendency for personal growth toward psychological integration, the self-determination theory of Ryan and Deci proposed that all behavior can be understood as lying along a continuum of external regulation, or heteronomy and true self-regulation, or autonomy (2008).

Ryan and Deci distinguish varying degrees of external motivation based on the level of autonomy present while engaging in the desired behavior. On one end, there is the external regulation of behavior where rewards are used purely to control behavior, and compliance occurs to avoid consequences and is defined as one where there is no autonomy present.

They explain that while external regulation, as in the form of rewards, can control behavior, it does not constitute motivation per se.

In all human affairs there is always an end in view—of pleasure, or honor, or advantage.

Polybius, 125 B.C

We can also be motivated by the avoidance of guilt and by the need to build self-esteem. This form of self-regulation of behavior is characterized by low autonomy and a language of “ I should ” and “ I have to .”

When we are motivated by the contingencies related to our self-esteem and impose pressures on ourselves for fear of shame or failure, we are said to have introjected regulation. This form of regulation, while more effective than external motivation, remains ambivalent and unstable because it is accompanied by inner conflict, tension, and negative emotions (Ryan & Deci, 2008).

These are closely related to what is known in wellbeing research as prevention focus orientation, where emotional regulation is driven by security needs and avoidance (Kahneman, Diner, & Schwartz, 1999).

Prevention Focus

When we consciously accept behavior as important, and when we truly value the outcome, this provides strong incentives and leads to identification. This more self-determined form of regulation is particularly important when it comes to the maintenance of behaviors that involve activities that are not inherently interesting or enjoyable.

When we identify with the regulation AND coordinate with other core values and believes, we are said to have the most autonomous form of extrinsic motivation – integrated regulation. This form of regulation occurs when those values become a part of the self and become congruent with one’s sense of identity.

That leads to the most positive and enduring outcomes of external motivation because a person has archived full autonomy (Reeve, 2018).

This form of regulation is very much like intrinsic motivation because we engage in the behavior willingly. It is entirely self-determined, but unlike intrinsic motivation, it does not have to involve activities that are enjoyable or interesting. This is particularly important to behavioral change in clinical settings where the level of internalization and integration for non-intrinsically motivated behavior is required.

It is never too late to be what you might have been.

George Eliot

When it comes to self-motivation in behavioral change, the autonomy versus control orientation can also play a role in maintaining behavioral change over time. Autonomy-oriented individuals generally succeed in maintaining their long-term changes in behavior (e.g., weight loss, smoking cessation), whereas control-oriented individuals generally fail to maintain such behavior change over time.

Autonomy causality orientation is closely linked to prevention focus orientation, where emotional regulation is driven by the possibility of positive outcomes and approach motivation (Kahneman, Diner, & Schwartz, 1999).

Promotion Focus

Autonomy-oriented individuals see everything in their environment and their responses to it as a matter of their own choice, and this perspective can be empowering and a great source of intrinsic motivation.

They tend to scan their environment for opportunities, they take initiative, set their own goals, and they take an equal interest in their environment as well as their own inner experience. They have an internal locus of control and behave with a strong sense of volition. They understand that their focus determines their reality, and they have a sense of shaping their destiny (Reeve, 2018).

Autonomy causality orientation characterizes individuals with a specific mindset where they rely on internal guides to regulate behavior in contrast to those who are control-oriented and attend to external guides like social queues and environmental incentives — this locus of control effects motivation and perseverance.

When we feel our behavior is something we initiate and regulate, we can make and sustain changes. This is in contrast to those, who at the other end of the spectrum, take on the victim of circumstances mentality (Reeve, 2018).

See our blog post 19 Best Books on Self-Discipline and Self-Control .

Everybody Knows: You can’t be all things to all people. You can’t do all things at once. You can’t do all things equally well. You can’t do all things better than everyone else. Your humanity is showing just like everyone else’s.

So: You have to find out who you are, and be that. You have to decide what comes first, and do that. You have to discover your strengths, and use them. You have to learn not to compete with others, Because no one else is in the contest of *being you*.

Then: You will have learned to accept your own uniqueness. You will have learned to set priorities and make decisions. You will have learned to live with your limitations. You will have learned to give yourself the respect that is due. And you’ll be a most vital mortal.

Dare To Believe: That you are a wonderful, unique person. That you are a once-in-all-history event. That it’s more than a right, it’s your duty, to be who you are. That life is not a problem to solve, but a gift to cherish. And you’ll be able to stay one up on what used to get you down.

motivation for an assignment

17 Tools To Increase Motivation and Goal Achievement

These 17 Motivation & Goal Achievement Exercises [PDF] contain all you need to help others set meaningful goals, increase self-drive, and experience greater accomplishment and life satisfaction.

Created by Experts. 100% Science-based.

There are dozens of motivational videos and channels on YouTube, but unfortunately we could not list them all. Instead, we picked a few we see as top motivational videos.

In order to achieve great things, you must first believe in yourself and then have a dream big enough to motivate you.

2. The Last Lecture

Even if faced with terminal cancer, it’s possible to find and celebrate the joy in your life.

3. Remember Me

When all is said and done, being human, exactly who you are, is more amazing than all the technology in the world.

Don’t let yourself be hypnotized by technology. Be in the moment and experience the wonder of direct connections.

5. Why We Do What We Do

If you understand why you’re motivated and inspired, it’s easier to become motivated and inspired. Tony Robbins explains it all.

6. Amazing Grace

The classic spiritual hymn rendered a cappella by the amazing and always creative Jesse Campbell.

7. Never Quit

Regardless of the obstacles that life throws your way, if you continue to pursue your dreams you will get results.

8. The Surprising Science of Happiness

Dan Gilbert challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want and explains how to feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.

9. Unbroken

Dedication to your goals keeps you moving forward, even if you encounter obstacles.

10. How Bad Do You Want It?

Sometimes it’s just a matter of wanting success so badly that you’ll do whatever it takes to win.

11. Excuses

Even if you’ve got an uphill battle to fight, you keep fighting. Because if you just give up, you’ve lost.

Context matters, and it is not a question of which type of motivation is more important, but instead, awareness of where we lack the necessary balance to create the ideal catalyst for goal achievement.

The significant problems of today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.

Albert Einstein

External events can become prompts for the desired behavior and can help to reinforce it, but to notice those we need to be in positive mental and emotional states, away from the sense of learned helplessness, as defined by Dr. Martin Seligman .

Often our goals must also represent something of value to us and satisfy our psychological needs as defined by Ryan and Deci’s self-determination theory, especially to create the energy necessary to persist (Reeve, 2018).

Do you have a story of your ideal catalyst for goal pursuit? Share it with us here.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Goal Achievement Exercises for free .

  • Beck, R. C. (2004). Motivation: Theories and principles (5th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
  • Csíkszentmihályi, M. (1997). Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life . New York, NY: Basic Books.
  • Deci, E. L., Olafsen, A. H., & Ryan, R. M. (2017). Self-determination theory in work organizations: State of the science . Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior.
  • Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). Self-determination theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health.  Canadian psychology/Psychologie canadienne, 49(3) , 182.
  • Deckers, L. (2014). Motivation: Biological, psychological, and environmental (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
  • DeCatanzaro, D. A. (1999). Motivation and emotion: Evolutionary, physiological, developmental, and social perspectives . Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
  • Edwards, D. C. (1999). Motivation and emotion: Evolutionary, physiological, cognitive, and social influences . Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.
  • Ferguson, E. D. (2000). Motivation: A biosocial and cognitive integration of motivation and emotion . Oxford University Press, New York.
  • Fowler, S. (2019). Master your motivation: Three scientific truths for achieving your goals. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
  • Franken, R. E. (2006). Human motivation (6th ed.). Wadsworth Thomson Learning, Belmont, CA.
  • Gallwey, W. T., Hanzelik, E., & Horton, J. (2009). The Inner Game of Stress: Outsmart Life’s Challenges and Fulfill Your Potential [Kindle iOS version]. Retrieved from
  • Gollwitzer, P. M. & Bargh, J. A. (1996). The psychology of action: Linking cognition and motivation to behavior . Guilford Press, New York/
  • Gorman (*). Motivation and emotion
  • Heckhausen, J. & Dweck, C. S. (1998). Motivation and self-regulation across the life span . Cambridge University Press, New York.
  • Kahneman, D., Diener, E., & Schwartz, N. (1999). Well-Being: Foundations of Hedonic Psychology . New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.
  • Nunez, R. & Freeman, W. J. (1999). Reclaiming cognition: The primacy of action, intention, and emotion . Imprint Academic, Thorverton, UK.
  • Peterson, C., Maier, S. F., & Seligman, M. E. P. (1993). Learned Helplessness: A Theory for the Age of Personal Control . New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Petri, H. L., & Govern, J. M. (2013). Motivation: Theory, research, and applications (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.
  • Reeve, J. (2015). Understanding motivation and emotion (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  • Sansone, C. & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: The search for optimal motivation and performance . Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
  • Sheldon, K. M. (Ed.) (2010). Current directions in motivation and emotion . Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
  • Wagner, H. (1999). The psychobiology of human motivation . Routledge, New York.

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The article is well-thought! I appreciate the content which has nourished me a lot. Good bless that intelligence!


I am in absolute awe – fantastic culmination of fields of study to deliver a hard punching, thought provoking article👌Inspiring!

Abel Iglesias

Good article. Keep it up!

Leonido Eduvane

Greetings! Great explanation i learned about the meaning of motivation wonderful words. Regards mentor.

Sardar Umer chaudhary

Excellent description or explanation or importance of motivation thanks beata spider love you from Kashmir…

Charlie Blodgett

This is great!!! Thanks!!!

Farha naaz

Everyone needs motivation, the way you explained the benefits of motivation is great. Nicely written and well explained. Good work.

Shane P. McKenna

This collection of videos is immensely valuable! I was glad to be reminded of the power of the autotelic self. As I deliver my lectures from home this week, the topic of resilience in the face of adversity has been a continuous theme in our discussions. How timely to receive this wonderful resource, thank you Beata. 🙂

Benson Gitau

Good stuff. Keep me posted.

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Emotion and Motivation

Introduction to Motivation

What you’ll learn to do: explain motivation, how it is influenced, and major theories about motivation.

Photo of a man rappeling down a cliff-face while someone belays for him, holding the rope down on the ground.

Motivation to engage in a given behavior can come from internal and/or external factors. There are multiple theories have been put forward regarding motivation—biologically oriented theories that say the need to maintain bodily homeostasis motivates behavior, Bandura’s idea that our sense of self-efficacy motivates behavior, and others that focus on social aspects of motivation. In this section, you’ll learn about these theories as well as the famous work of Abraham Maslow and his hierarchy of needs.

Learning Objectives

  • Illustrate intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
  • Describe basic theories of motivation, including concepts such as instincts, drive reduction, and self-efficacy
  • Explain the basic concepts associated with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

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Module 11: Motivation

Assignment: motivation.

Step 1:  To view this assignment, click on  Assignment: Motivation.

Step 2:  Follow the instructions in the assignment and submit your completed assignment into the LMS.

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