Extrinsic motivation in the teaching of mathematics

Topics: Motivation, High school, Educational psychology Pages: 11 (3172 words) Published: May 8, 2014

This paper describes the extrinsic factors used to motivate a year 8 mathematics class in a public high school within Brisbane, Australia. Mathematics is the basis for modern scientific and technological developments and an important means of cogent, concise and unambiguous communication (Cockroft, 1992 & Ndimbirwe, 1995 in Githua & Mwangi, 2003). As noted by Githua & Mwangi (2003), within the developing countries such as Kenya, the study of mathematics is compulsory for all primary and secondary school students in that country yet; students continue to perform poorly and are under motivated in their desire to learn maths. Within Queensland, the mathematics key learning areas are set by the Queensland Studies Authority (QSA) and it is argued that mathematics helps prepare students for a variety of life roles by providing opportunities for them to develop and demonstrate personal development skills, social skills, self managed skills and citizenship skills (QSA, 2004). Motivation in mathematics is an issue of great concern within most schools. As noted by Bowman (2007), teachers are becoming adept at manipulating both intrinsic and extrinsic factors to increase and maintain student’s motivations. However, the current theoretical debates and arguments are situated within the area of extrinsic motivation and its value in education.

The literature review reveals a wide field of research findings on the impact and value of intrinsic motivation in education (Bowman, 2007; Turner, et al., 2003; Westwood 2004; English & Goodchild, 2002; & Stipek, 2002). There is however, a limited but developing field of work on extrinsic motivation and that which has been published is also highly contentious with agreements and disagreements expressed by a number of scholars, especially with regard to the use of “rewards as extrinsic motivators” (Lynne, 2007; Reeves & Taylor-Cox, 2003; Dembo & Eaton, 1997 in Phye, 1997; and Brewster, 2000).

The question of how to motivate students in the classroom has become a leading concern for teachers of all disciplines (Sotto, 1995; & Turner, et al., 1998). Research has shown that high motivation and engagement in learning have consistently been linked to reduced dropout rates and increased levels of student success (Brewster & Fager, 2000). For the purpose of this paper, the following definitions of motivation are accepted:

Thompson (2004): “Motivation is a state of mind, an attitude. It is the extent of a person’s willingness to undertake a task or activity”; According to Bomia et al., (1997) in Brewster & Fager (2000), “Student motivation refers to a student’s willingness, need, desire and compulsion to participate in, and be successful in the learning process”; Stipek (2002) believes that “A motivated person is someone with cognitions or beliefs that lead to constructive achievement behaviour, such as exerting effort or persisting in the face of difficulty. Motivation is not considered a quality of the person, but rather a set of behaviours and their contingencies (i.e. whether the behaviours are rewarded or punished”. Middleton & Spanias (1999) suggests that “Motivations are reasons individuals have for behaving in a given manner in a given situation. They exist as part of one’s beliefs about what is important and they determine whether or not one will engage in a given pursuit”.

From the above definitions it can be concluded that motivation certainly involves a willingness and commitment to achieve a goal or task that implies/expects success. 2.2Models of motivation
Many researchers agree that motivation is the key ingredient in outstanding and extraordinary achievement (Aronson, 2002; Heine, 1997; & National Research Council, 2005). The study of motivation has generated a vast research literature of its own, but recent investigations have...

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