In this second post of the month, Shiang-Kwei Wang provides a detailed look at the composing pieces of motivation. Wang goes through 5 different theories on areas that can be tweaked to increase motivation in students. Educational short animations are peppered within the text to illustrate some of the concepts the author uses. All the theories together show the importance of thinking about and setting goals, improving self-efficacy through support from the teacher, and presents specific techniques to enhance intrinsic motivation, such as:

Challenge: Design challenging activities which convey the message to the learners that they have competitive skills. It is essential to find a balance between learner competence and the difficulty of the goals. Overly difficult goals are unlikely to increase learner motivation to continue the task if the learners perceive they will never reach the goal. Likewise, goals that are too easily attained do not sufficiently challenge learners to encourage skill development.


Curiosity: Activities that create disequilibria for the learners can elicit curiosity. Presenting discrepant ideas–those that conflict with their prior knowledge or beliefs–can prompt students to seek information that will resolve the discrepancy. As with challenge, moderate discrepancies are most effective because they are easily incorporated into an individual’s mental framework; large discrepancies may be rapidly discounted (Pintrich & Schunk, 1996, p.277).


Control: A sense of responsibility will be better fostered in learners if they are allowed to make meaningful choices in the learning process.


Fantasy: The design of simulations and games that involve fantasy can increase intrinsic motivation.