HONR 219M

”The starting point of all achievement is desire.” –Napoleon Hill

Motivation is what causes us to act. The word “motivation” itself comes from the Latin word “movere” , which means “to move”. But of what does motivation itself consist? Is it a biologically based drive or need? Does it arise primarily from the rewards and punishments we receive? Or does it stem from our inner curiosities and desire to be competent?

Further, motivation is something that is part of the person, but it also is greatly influenced by one’s environment, and the people in it. How do our parents shape our motivation to approach different activities? How about teachers in school? These (and other) socializers greatly impact our motivation to do different activities.

HONR 219M will help students understand the nature and development of individuals’ motivation for different activities, with a focus on achievement motivation, or motivation when standards of excellence are involved. Four basic questions will be addressed in the course:

1. How do psychologists, sociologists, and educators define motivation currently and what are the major current theoretical models of motivation?
2. How does our motivation change from early childhood to early adulthood?
3. What factors (e.g., environmental, relational, cultural, gender) influence the development of motivation?
4. How has motivation been studied by researchers?

In the first part of the course (lasting for the first eight or so weeks)we will examine and critique major theories of motivation primarily from the developmental and educational psychology literatures. We then will discuss the development of motivation in the home and school. We finish with a discussion of gender, culture, and motivation.

Assignments include:

• Your grade in the course will be determined by three short papers and a longer term paper, a presentation, and your participation in class.

Readings include:

The book for the class is Daniel Pink’s Drive, a popular press book that focuses on how views of motivation have changed from a focus on rewards and punishments to a focus on internal processes around having autonomy over what we do, feeling capable of accomplishing different things, and valuing them. In addition we will read and discuss a variety of articles reviewing the literature on a particular topic in the motivation field, or presenting an original empirical study.