On this page are activities or assignments related to motivating students. They may or may not be intended to illustrated particular theoretical concepts about motivation; some may be oriented primarily to everyday classroom practice.Some of these activities may also appear elswhere in this wiki.KellyLuLuSmallCropped.JPG



(Go back to home page or specific topics of ed psych.)

Selected Key Concepts and Examples of Motivation

This is a two-page handout that can be used as the basis for a combined lecture/discussion about basic concepts of motivation, or as a brief homework assignment for students to do in writing. Especially good for either starting or ending a unit on student motivation.

- Seifert Seifert Nov 16, 2010

Concept Map of Basic Concepts about Motivation

Click on the link above or below to go to a concept map covering major concepts about motivation in education. The map is in PDF format, so editing it will be difficult, but nonetheless helpful for use with ed psych students.


- Seifert Seifert Nov 17, 2011 on behalf of Megan Hatfield (Marist College) and Melinda Martinez (Marist College)

Slideshow Overview of Ideas about Motivation

Click on the link above or below to go to a slide show covering major concepts about motivation in education. The slide show is in PDF format (not Powerpoint), so editing will be difficult, but it should be helpful nonetheless. It may be possible to use it in conjunction with the concept map cited above.


- Seifert Seifert Nov 19, 2011 on behalf of Megan Hatfield (Marist College) and Melinda Martinez (Marist College)

Modules about Motivation Written for Students

These seven modules about aspects of motivation are intended for introductory educational psychology students, or for other preservice teachers. They were written by Lisa McNulty of St. Francis College, and are based in part on the online, open-access textbook called Educational Psychology, by Kelvin Seifert and Rosemary Sutton.

Motivation: An Introduction
Motivation: Behavioral Views
Motivation: Goals, Interests, and Attributions
Motivation: Self-Determination
Motivation: Self-efficacy
Motivational Challenges in the Classroom
Motivation: Key Terms with Definitions

- Seifert Seifert Mar 14, 2012, with thanks for Lisa McNulty.

Level of aspiration: What influences it?

You can illustrate a few basic influences on level of aspiration with a simple task of transferring beans from one container to another. The activity takes about 15-20 minutes of class time.

- Seifert Seifert Oct 7, 2009

Do Rewards Motivate Students?

Here are three discussions about the perennial issue of the merits of extrinsic vs. intrinsic rewards. They are helpful in framing class discussions on this topic (which never seems to go away!).

- Seifert Seifert May 28, 2010

Intrinsic Motivation and Sense of Purpose: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us

A ten-minute animated video by Dan Pink, summarizing recent research about the effects of intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation. Originally made for a business audience, but quite relevant to classroom issues as well.


- Seifert Seifert Jun 25, 2010 on behalf of Marianne Miserandino and Helenrose Fives.

Dealing with Perfectionism

If you or your students have issues about perfectionism, this article may be useful. Using a semi-popular or journalistic style, it explains the most important debilitating effects of trying to be perfect and offers advice for dealing with the problem.

- Seifert Seifert May 6, 2010

Secrets of Achieving Self-Control

If you are wondering why some students seem better able to delay gratification than others, this article will provide useful explanations, as well as a few hints about how you might increase students' ability to delay. The article summarizes key research on this topic done by Walter Mischel from the 1950s to the present. It is written for the "intelligent layperson," not for teachers or college instructors specifically. See also the book, Willpower: Rediscovering the greatest human strength, by psychologist Roy Gaumeister and New York Times columnist John Tierney.

- Seifert Seifert May 7, 2010

Maslow's Theory Revisited

Many of us teach some version of Maslow's heirarchical theory of motivation, originally published in the 1960s. Here is a blog from Psychology Today that comments on how it can be incorporated into more recent ideas from psychology, including from neuroscience and evolutionary biology.

- Seifert Seifert Oct 6, 2010

Pros and Cons of Cooperative Learning: Making Paper Airplanes

A simple task like making paper airplanes can be used to demonstrate the pros and cons of cooperative learning. This page explains one way of doing this.

- Seifert Seifert Nov 8, 2010

The 3 Core Needs: Satisfy Them and You'll Be Happy

Here is a summary of Self-Determination Theory (usually associated with the work of Richard Ryan and Edward Deci). It explains why competence, autonomy, and relatedness are key needs that individuals must satisfy. And here is a quick summary of how the three core motives relate to teaching.

- Seifert Seifert Nov 26, 2010

An Experienced Teacher's Candid Views about Motivation

Theories of motivation are good, but some teachers find them too idealistic, for a variety of reasons. Here is an example of that criticism, written as a letter from a classroom teacher to an ed psych instructor.

- Seifert Seifert Nov 29, 2010

Is Choice Always Motivating To Students?

Offering students choices helps to motivate students in many situations, but you probably already know of times when it does not. In this link, Barry Schwartz, a Swarthmore psychologist, explains when choice works sometimes and not others.

- Seifert Seifert Feb 8, 2011

Overview of B. F. Skinner's Operant Conditioning

This link goes to an overview/summary of B. F. Skinner's version of operant conditioning. The page is fairly accessible in style, but not absolutely thorough.

- Seifert Seifert Nov 19, 2011 on behalf of Megan Hatfield (Marist College) and Melinda Martinez (Marist College)

Notes on Behaviorism from Ormrod text, 3rd (1999) edition

This link goes to notes outlining the discussion of behaviorism in Jeanne Ormrod's textbook, Human learning, 3rd edition. It does not quote from the text itself, and the outline is based on an older (1999) edition of this book, not on the most current edition. The notes were written by a Ph.D. student and ed psych instructor at the University of Texas, Lynda Abbott. They are more thorough than the webpage cited above, but also simpler visually.

- Seifert Seifert Nov 19, 2011 on behalf of Megan Hatfield (Marist College) and Melinda Martinez (Marist College)

Motivating Students -- The MUSIC Model


This link is a web page by Brett Jones, Ph. D. presenting the MUSIC model on academic motivation, and will provide rich information for teachers who would like to learn how to motivate their students.

Using Calvin and Hobbes To Understanding Motivation


Calvin, from the long-running comic strip "Calvin & Hobbs," faces a number of motivation problems. The link above takes you to a set of learning materials that guides undergraduates in solving some of Calvin's motivation problems. Details of the project are all available on the wiki site linked above, although students' work has been kept confidential. For more information, contact its creator, Dr. Kevin Pugh at the University of Northern Colorado.

- Seifert Seifert May 16, 2017