Motivation is flexible
In Elementary School children are mostly intrinsically motivated. The level of children’s motivation changes as they move through adolescence. Over the school years, many children’s academic motivation decreases due to changes both in themselves and in the school environments they experience (Wigfield & Eccles, 2001; Eccles & Midgley, 1990; Wigfield, Eccles, & Rodriguez, 1998; Stipek, 1996). For some students, such changes lead them to withdraw from achievement situations and avoid them whenever possible (Wigfield &Eccles, 2001). For others, however, these changes are not necessarily problematic (Wigfield &Eccles, 2001). These findings are in line with motivation research which reveals the “phenomenon” that some students’ school achievement is constant across school years (Deci & Ryan, 2000), independent of changes in themselves or in the social environment. These findings suggest individual differences in motivation patterns as well as in the roles played by peers and teachers in students’ motivation.
Motivation needs relationship
As recent studies have shown, motivation can be supported or undermined by social factors (for reviews, see Deci & Ryan, 1985; Reeve, Deci & Ryan, 2004). Classmates serve as potential companions and friends and as such fulfill important social needs of the developing child (Harter, 1996; Rubin, Bukowski, & Laursen, 2009; Rubin, Bukowski, & Parker, 2006). Several studies have examined peer relationships as an important context for social engagement and scholastic motivation (Juvonen, & Wentzel, 1996; Wentzel 2005; 2010). Another important social relationship within the school context is the teacher-student relationship. Not only do teachers convey approval or disapproval for scholastic achievement, they also communicate their more general approval or disapproval for the child as a person (e.g., Harter, 1996; Birch, & Ladd, 1996; Wentzel, 1996).
Self-reports of social relationships and scholastic motivation of 1089 seventh- and eighth-grade students were used to test our four different motivation types (MT) model by using confirmatory latent class analysis (CLCA): In line with our hypothesis, the results of the CLCA confirmed our 4 latent class model: (1) teacher-dependent motivation type (2) peer-dependent motivation type, (3) teacher- and peer-dependent motivation type and (4) independent motivation type. Membership for this 4-class solution was as followed: 9.5% teacher-dependent MT (50 girls, 57 boys), 36.5% peer-dependent MT, (233 girls, 161 boys), 27.8% teacher- and peer-dependent MT (166 girls, 126 boys), and 26.3% MT (138 girls, 157 boys).
Why do we need motivation types? How can we use the knowledge of motivation types in daily school life?
With regards to individual and developmental differences, the establishment of learning typologies might help to foster and support each student individually within the school setting. In line with research on motivation (Wigfield & Eccles, 2001), the typology underlines differences in motivation patterns. Considering these differences, teacher training and education curricula should include an understanding of students’ individual learning styles in order to better support students and satisfy learning and motivation preferences. This typology should be used as a gateway to understanding that all people learn, act and react in their own specific way and at their own specific pace. In general, schools expect students to learn in a certain way, and students who do not fit within this box are often viewed as dysfunctional instead of merely as different types of learners.