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Motivation Case Essay

In psychology, motivation refers to the initiation, direction, intensity and persistence of behavior. Motivation is a temporal and dynamic state that should not be confused with personality or emotion which are more stable and permanent. In simple words, motivation is having the desire and willingness to do something. This drive to achieve something is usually what drives an individual to conduct actions which result in the realization of that aim.

Experts have been studying human behavior for a long time and come up with many theories regarding motivation and how a workforce can be better motivated in rode to ultimately help an organization achieve its goals. Some of these theories like Maslow’s need hierarchy and Herzberg’s two factor theory are the more famous ones. Other theories however are simpler yet effective in stating what motivation is and how it can be achieved.

Many times, we students feel a lack of motivation during our studies. I believe this is mainly due to the fact that the Expectancy theory is playing its effect. Although it can be argued that being a learning exercise, participants in team projects are not required to have the training of an expert worker, the problem usually arises when a

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person at the same level as us is made the leader. Job descriptions, despite of having clear goals are not usually well defined. Secondly, the rewards are mostly intangible. There are two kinds of motivation:

  • Intrinsic motivation occurs when people are internally motivated to do something because it either brings them pleasure, they think it is important, or they feel that what they are learning is morally significant.
  • Extrinsic motivation comes into play when a student is compelled to do something or act a certain way because of factors external to him or her (like money or good grades).

Thus motivation here is rather intrinsic than extrinsic (Deci & Ryan 1985) if seen from an individuals perspective. This causes a huge variation between team members as to what they feel are the rewards they will get out of the task. Some see it as an opportunity to learn, some to improve their grade and some just see it as a requirement that needs to be fulfilled in order to clear the course (extrinsic). This extrinsic motivation can also be seen as a result of the surrounding environment due to which a student is ‘forced’ to conduct a task.

Motivation in education can have several effects on how students learn and their behavior towards subject matter (Ormond, 2003). It can:

  • Direct behavior toward particular goals
  • Lead to increased effort and energy
  • Increase initiation of, and persistence in, activities
  • Enhance cognitive processing
  • Determine what consequences are reinforcing
  • Lead to improved performance

Another good theory that can be effective here is the Goal-setting theory. Goal-setting theory is based on the notion that individuals sometimes have a drive to reach a clearly defined end state. Often, this end state is a reward in itself. A goal’s efficiency is affected by three features; proximity, difficulty and specificity. This explains why some children are more motivated to learn how to ride a bike than mastering algebra. A goal should be moderate, not too hard or too easy to complete. Specificity concerns the description of the goal.

The goal should be objectively defined and intelligible for the individual. A classic example of a poorly specified goal is to get the highest possible grade. Most children have no idea how much effort they need to reach that goal. Therefore even though the goal was set, there were no specific job descriptions for the children to follow proving that unless tasks are well defined, motivation might be achieved for a short term but not for a long enough period to achieve those goals. The workers have to be trained enough to know how to work towards a goal as well.

Apart from a project at school example, students are usually involved in working at temporary jobs. These too come with their own set of problems and motivational concepts especially if the job is new. The most arduous task being that of learning what to do. Inability to master it however is very de-motivating.

Here too we can see how expectancy theory is playing when it comes to training of the individual. If an individual is incapable of doing a task, or sees himself incapable of doing a task due to external or internal factors, motivation declines rapidly. Furthermore, this results in the gola growing more distant. Hence the overall effect is more than what can be assessed by using only one of the theories.

Most of these theories usually go hand in hand. They can be seen as an example where the same issue is seen and presented by different angles, by different people in their respective times and situations. They do however speak of the same thing. What people want and how they can be enticed (or motivated) by showing them what they want and the equipping them with the means to get it.

 References:

Bentham, J., 1789, ‘An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation’.

Barker, S., 2004, Psychology (2nd ed.). Boston: Pearson Education

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. 1985, ‘Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior’, New York: Plenum.

Ormond J., 2003, ‘Educational Psychology: Developing Learners’, Fourth Edition, Merrill Prentice Hall.

Spevak, P., & Karinch, 2000, ‘Empowering Underachievers’, First Edition, New Horizon Press.

Yoke, C., 2006, ‘The ‘me’ in team, and what it means’, Network World, Vol. 23 Issue 30,

p33-33, 1/2p

Somani, S., 2006, ‘Beyond Labels’, PM Network, Jun2006, Vol. 20 Issue 6, p26-26, 1p

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