Zooming in on Instruction: Instructors' Strategies for Supporting Motivation & Engagement in Fall 2022
Faculty Features Video Series
As part of McGill Faculty of Education's Faculty Features Video Series, Dr. Kristy Robinson describes her research in achievement motivation. What causes students' motivation to decline? How can we better support students in different academic atmospheres to improve their motivation? How can we analyze teacher practices and students' perceptions to see how motivation is affected?
Students who are passionate about these areas of study and research should consider pursuing a Master’s or Doctoral degree within the Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology, under the astute mentorship of Dr. Kristy Robinson. To learn more: mcgill.ca/edu-ecp/kristy-robinson
Visual Notes from Kristy's Talk at McMaster Education & Cognition: Motivated Students & Motivating Classrooms
Many thanks to Melanie Parlette-Stewart for this beautiful visualization, and to the conference organizers for the invitation!
This was a super well-organized and fun conversation full of tips on forming and maintaining fruitful research collaborations. It was a great opportunity to reflect on the collaborations that I treasure! I also learned a lot from the other panelists and attendees. Thank you, Motivation SIG Graduate Students, for inviting me and for doing such a great job organizing!
Interview with Dr. Marcus Johnson, University of Cincinatti: Interest & Emotions in Education
I had a blast speaking with Dr. Marcus Johnson about interest and emotions in education--check out our conversation here!
This interactive event highlighted insights from an ongoing collaboration between MILES Lab and members of the Faculty of Science at McGill University. We focused on:
We often think of motivation as something we have or we don't. We think of students as being motivated or unmotivated.
A student asked me for some advice for pursuing a scholarly career at a college or university, which is a goal of hers. I rattled off a little list that I thought might be useful to others, so I'm sharing it here (YMMV):
"I'm so unmotivated!"
We've all been there: the to do list is staring you in the face but you just keep [checking social media/browsing YouTube/doing literally anything else] rather than getting started on these very important, maybe even urgent tasks. Just last week a student came to me in tears about her lack of motivation. She is nearing graduation and finding it increasingly difficult to muster the energy she needs to do even the simplest coursework tasks.
There are lots of reasons why this can happen, of course. If you're thinking it's a lack of motivation that's keeping you from your goals, consider the following: when you say you're unmotivated, what exactly do you mean?
In the literature, motivation is not just one thing that we have a little or a lot of. Instead, it's multifaceted. These facets reflect the different reasons we do things, and that's a good working definition of motivation in general: reasons for engaging in goal-directed behavior (Schunk, Meece, & Pintrich, 2014). So when I have a lot of motivation for writing today, that means I have compelling, energizing reasons that get me going on that writing.
Different theories of motivation focus on different facets. One I like, expectancy-value theory (Eccles et al., 1983), focuses on two broad categories of motivation that are essential for reaching our goals: expectancy for success and value for the task. To be motivated, I need to have good answers to two questions:
"Can I do this?" and "Why do I want to do this?" (Linnenbrink-Garcia, Patall, & Pekrun, 2016).
In my own research, I find that even small shifts in these motivations can have important consequences for grades, major choices, and even career outcomes.
So next time you feel unmotivated, a first step toward getting motivated might be to ask yourself which you're lacking: feelings of competence and the support you need to succeed, reasons to feel like the task is valuable, or both?
Eccles, J. S., Adler, T. F., Futterman, R., Goff, S. B., Kaczala, C. M., Meece, J., & Midgley, C. (1983). Expectancies, values, and academic behavior. In J. T. Spence (Ed.), Achievement and achievement motivation (pp. 75–146). San Francisco, CA: Freeman.
Linnenbrink-Garcia, L., Patall, E. A., & Pekrun, R. (2016). Adaptive motivation and emotion in education: Research and principles for instructional design. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 3, 228-236. doi:10.1177/2372732216644450
Robinson, K. A., Lee, Y. K., Bovee, E. A., Perez, T., Walton, S. P., Briedis, D., & Linnenbrink-Garcia, L. (2019). Motivation in transition: Development and roles of expectancy, task values, and costs in early college engineering. Journal of Educational Psychology, 111(6), 1081.
Robinson, K. A., Perez, T., Nuttall, A. K., Roseth, C. J., & Linnenbrink-Garcia, L. (2018). From science student to scientist: Predictors and outcomes of heterogeneous science identity trajectories in college. Developmental psychology, 54(10), 1977.
Schunk, D. H., Meece, J. L., & Pintrich, P. R. (2014). Motivation in education: Theory, research, and applications (4th ed., Ch. 1). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Kristy A. Robinson, PhD
Assistant Professor, motivation enthusiast, reader, runner, and mom