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Motivation: A Quick Review

Well-known cognitive psychologist Richard Mayer offers a succinct analysis of motivation in his excellent workbook monograph titled Applying the Science of Learning. He begins with a definition: “Motivation is an internal state that initiates and maintains goal-directed behavior.” (p. 39) This means that motivation is personal; it occurs within the student. When present, motivation activates behavior. Motivated students work hard to understand the material. Their behavior is persistent and characterized by intensity. They are focused on accomplishing a goal. The definition makes clear that motivation is a prerequisite to learning. Meaningful learning simply does not occur unless effort is expended.

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