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Factors Affecting Student Motivation

Joyette taught English & Literature at high school for many years. Her writing and education articles come from her classroom experience.

Read on to learn about the various factors that affect student motivation, including the many extrinsic motivational factors in students' lives, such as home environment, peer influence, and teacher motivation.

Read on to learn about the various factors that affect student motivation, including the many extrinsic motivational factors in students' lives, such as home environment, peer influence, and teacher motivation.

Motivation Can Come From Within or Without

Human beings can be motivated by many strange things, but when it comes down to it, motivation can either be intrinsic or extrinsic.

For those of us who are lucky, we find our motivation from within; we call it our drive. It is also known as self-motivation. From early on we are able to set goals for our lives and chart the course of our destiny. Without sound financial backing, it may appear extremely daunting to achieve our goals; however, the inner drive is what enables us to be proactive and persevere and achieve despite the odds.

Student Motivation

One of the places where motivation is manifested earliest is the classroom. There you will find different types of students all motivated by different combinations of factors. Some draw on the intrinsic—their inner strength and determination—and remain focused even in what appear to be very adverse situations. Others rely heavily on extrinsic factors and, if those are not favorable, they become demotivated and easily lose focus.

Students bring to the classroom varying types of extrinsic motivation, such as a nurturing home environment or rewards promised by parents and relatives. However, they also depend, to a large extent, on school factors such as school and classroom environment, the teacher's personality, the skills and abilities of the teacher, rewards, commendations and relationships with peers, for motivation not only to succeed but to excel.

A pleasant and present teacher can be a decisive source of motivation for many students, especially those who require more extrinsic influence.

A pleasant and present teacher can be a decisive source of motivation for many students, especially those who require more extrinsic influence.

Factors Affecting Student Motivation

Student motivation may be dependent on varied factors. Here are three examples:

1. Home Environment

Positive Home: A child who comes from a home environment that is caring, comfortable and supportive brings to the classroom motivation arising from their conducive home environment.

Negative Home: On the other side of the coin, an unfavourable home environment produces a pupil who arrives at school perhaps hungry, angry, resentful, bitter, depressed, lethargic or just simply stressed out. Such a student requires really strong school motivation to prod them out of their malaise and cause them to perform.

2. School Environment

A pleasant school environment (tidy/attractive surroundings, caring teachers, agreeable students, etc.) is in itself conducive to learning and excellent student output. Additionally, a positive class environment will further reinforce student motivation, causing students to achieve at even higher levels or creating motivation where there was none from the home.

3. The School System

The school system itself can influence students either to excel or to rebel. A school that offers a comprehensive program and has the reputation of being disciplined, fair and student-friendly will very likely attract high student enrollment, produce high academic performance and turn out well-rounded students, as motivation will be high.

The converse is true; a school system that is extremely regimented and whose programs are limited can impact students negatively. Likewise, a school that is too lax will eventually have discipline problems and lose its reputation. Nobody wants to be associated with a school whose reputation is poor, thus students who attend such schools feel that nothing good is expected of them and are not motivated to do well.

Good student-teacher relationships are conducive to learning and are highly important extrinsic sources of motivation for students.

Good student-teacher relationships are conducive to learning and are highly important extrinsic sources of motivation for students.

Impacts of Different Types of Motivation

Below is a more detailed dive into the impact that different types of motivation have on students.

1. Intrinsic Motivation

The most powerful motivation is intrinsic motivation, for no matter how favorable external factors are unless a student has set goals that they are determined to achieve, they can easily be sidetracked by factors such as peer pressure, complacency or simply indecisiveness.

2. Extrinsic Motivation

  • Positive Home Environment: Take, for example, the "Positive Home" scenario in the "Home Environment" section above. The child is already comfortable at home and perhaps at school as well. They can take either of two routes: they may easily become complacent and tell themself that all is well at home and as such, there is no need to work hard. Here, it is intrinsic motivation that is needed to push this student to take another, better route. This would involve applying themself in order to become a success story like their father, brother or someone else whom they have adopted as a role model, and to bring gratification to those who have made the way easy for them.
  • Negative Home Environment: In this scenario, the child comes from a less-than-favourable home environment. This student also has two options: They may, from sheer determination to access a better life in the future, push themself relentlessly to achieve success. On the other hand, they may succumb, as many do, and let their adverse circumstances dictate their future. Indeed, the unfavourable home environment is probably a stronger motivator for personal success than the favourable home environment. Students from the former, however, rely more heavily on school factors for motivation than those from the latter.
  • Peer Motivation: Peers are also a great source of motivation for one another. Lifelong friendships are formed at school and peers have been known to stand up for one another, sometimes even more than siblings. They assist one another with school work and also become mentors to one another in their personal lives. Very often one finds that students who work in groups, sharing their knowledge and skills, obtain better results than those who work alone.
  • Teacher Motivation: Among extrinsic factors, the teacher is probably the single most powerful source of motivation for pupils. The personality, skill, attitude, gender, age and even the attire of the teacher are all very important factors in determining whether students perform or not. Teachers must be conscious of the powerful impact that they can have on their students and make every effort to ensure that they impact the young minds entrusted to their care positively rather than negatively. Teachers are mentors, life shapers, and destiny shapers and they must be prepared to undertake the task that has been put into their hands. Students are motivated by teachers who show they are concerned about their well-being, that they have answers to life’s questions, that they can rise to challenges, and that they can be mothers, fathers and friends.

Motivation Is the Force Impelling Students to Achieve

Generally, students are motivated to do well when conditions at home and at school are favorable. In extreme situations, one may find children who have everything going for them getting distracted and choosing the wrong path in life. Alternatively, one may find students who appear to have very little motivation at home buckling their belts and setting their own course for success.

Motivation can come from any number of sources, but wherever it comes from it is that force that impels the student to move forward to achieve—nay, to excel.

Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Joyette Helen Fabien


Joyette Fabien on July 22, 2020:

Thank you for reading, Bambe. All the best in your writing.

Bambe from Philippines on July 22, 2020:

This is a very informative article for teachers and students.

Korir Sammy on August 20, 2015:

it is simply that Joyette

Joyette Helen Fabien (author) from Dominica on November 26, 2014:

Thanks for your thoughts on the matter motv

Ivan Lima from U.S on November 25, 2014:

Wouldn't it just be better if homes taught their children to be motivated. Based on this great article, the need to be motivated is not even explicit, it is a matter of being kind and love each other as much as we can. The same applies to schools. parents should do some type of research before enrolling their kids. the college programs for teaching, specially the earlier grades should focus a little more on the responsibility that a teacher will carry on kid's life forever. Great article, thanks!

Joyette Helen Fabien (author) from Dominica on October 20, 2014:

Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts on the matter, HSchneider.

Howard Schneider from Parsippany, New Jersey on October 14, 2014:

Wonderful Hub, Joyette. I totally agree. Motivation is crucial to the learning speed and the extent of learning for any student or person. My 5th grade teacher motivated us with real lie scenarios and I learned the most from him and had the most fun.

Joyette Helen Fabien (author) from Dominica on June 06, 2012:

Thank you Kathryn. I certainly will!

Kathryn L Hill from LA on June 05, 2012:

I hope you will visit my hubs. I am happy to follow you.

Joyette Helen Fabien (author) from Dominica on June 05, 2012:

Indeed! These days interests have grown in number and have become more diverse. We won't reach these modern kids with the old fashioned curriculum which has little to hold their interest. I believe that every child has the potential to do well if given the opportunity to do something which sparks his/her interest in a conducive learning environment.

Kathryn L Hill from LA on June 04, 2012:

Thank you! Also They may be more inclined to learn through intrinsic motivation more than in the past. I actually think that evolution is pushing us that way. That's why I think we need to establish a new direction in education... going inward. What interests a child? We really need to find out!

Joyette Helen Fabien (author) from Dominica on June 04, 2012:

Kathryn, thanks for reading. I agree with you. Today, education has to be made more relevant to world demands. Too many educational institutions are still clinging to old and overused methods and programs. There is a need for changes in focus to cater to the new and varied needs of the modern child.

Kathryn L Hill from LA on June 03, 2012:

Hi. I enjoyed your hub. We must help the kids who are slipping through the cracks. How? Create an environment for them where they learn skills for surviving in this world. Kids are discovering grades are not that important when it really comes down to NOW. Sitting at desks and doing what the teacher expects them to do is just not fun for some.

what is fun? Meeting challenges that teach relevant skills for survival in today's world. What skills? How about marketing, programming, drawing, animating, sound editing, printing and business math as opposed to algebra. Also how about mixing it up: Teach art along with science, science along with history... We have to get with it. The kids can be introduced to the joy of learning and living.

Joyette Helen Fabien (author) from Dominica on June 03, 2012:

Oh dear,thanks Gloria. You are going to make me cry!

Gloria McLawrence from St. Maarten on June 03, 2012:

You have been a wonderful teaher, motivator, friend to so many of us. Even after so many years it is still with great pride we look back and think about those who've impacted us and there you are topping the list. Again many thanks.

Joyette Helen Fabien (author) from Dominica on February 15, 2012:

Certainly, hinazille. I agree with you there.

CONSCIOUSNINJA from Planet Earth on February 14, 2012:

i think the relationship between the student and the teacher is where it either 'makes or breaks' the case... most children with not so great backgrounds (little academic support, nutrition, intellectual stimulation, etc.) can still do well if the teacher can keep them stimulated and keep the information relevant...

i have no doubt you are achieving that with your students :)

Joyette Helen Fabien (author) from Dominica on June 03, 2011:

Thanks again. I have seen the benefits of motivation in my years as a teacher

sankari.nayagam on June 03, 2011:

A really motivating hub! Yes Students should grow up in a motivating environment to be successful!!

Joyette Helen Fabien (author) from Dominica on June 03, 2011:

Thank you SharkFuel, I appreciate your support!

SharkFuel on June 03, 2011:

Great list of factors, which have a positive impact on motivation of students. Motivation is extremely important for achieving success. Great hub, thanks!