The components of motivation

Secondary human motivation includes a desire to succeed or achieve. It’s a complex psychological state or force and has been studied for decades. While theories of motivation have fluctuated over time, scientists largely believe that motivation is broken up into components including need, passion and persistence. Each entity is important to understand, especially for educators. As many teachers know, not all students are motivated in school, which can lead to low test scores or even dropping out.

Motivation is a complex psychological state of being.

Motivation is a complex psychological state of being.

NPR asked whether students should care or be motivated to work hard while taking exams. Common Core State Standards and the aligned assessments don’t have many consequences for students. If the students do poorly, the score means that they didn’t learn the class material very well. However, these assessments are very high stakes for educators. Should students earn low scores on standardized tests, schools could lose funding, a reality many students don’t consider when preparing.

College-entrance exams have incredibly high stakes for students. A good score could help a student get into an amazing school. So what makes some kids rise to the challenge of exams, whether or not they have high stakes, while other students shrug off education? While motivation isn’t an exact science, psychologists agree that kids who excel have a need of some kind, a passion for that need and plenty of persistence.

Needing to succeed
Drive, vision and need are similar in the context of motivation. People who seem motivated in their field typically have a clear vision of what they want their future to look like. Great artists, such as Claude Monet or Michelangelo, may have had a need to create, or in their case, paint. For some people, making things is a necessity for happiness. Other people might feel a strong desire to save the environment or understand computers. No matter what their drive, motivated people have something in their lives they feel they must do. This can occur on a subconscious level as well – some kids want to please their parents, for example.

Loving the effort
Once the individual discovers their drive or experiences it on a subconscious level, they pursue it, which leads to love. Michael Jordan loved basketball, so waking up early every day to practice free throws was fun for him. The passion part of motivation leads people to improve their craft.

Overcoming the hard parts
Loving your work will only get you so far – you have to be able to persist when the going gets tough. Driven students who love to learn will face a subject in school that they have a difficult time grasping. But a fully motivated student will be persistent, seeking the help they need to overcome the hurdle. If a student gives up at the slightest resistance, they might not yet have found their drive.


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