Academic Performance: The Role Of Motivation In Students’ Learning

Education is a universal activity that is part and parcel of human existence. It is by this notion that formal education was set up and it has become a primary and vital process that determines a country’s development in terms of technology, economic sector, political sector, and even social sector. Formal education involves many people, i.e. the government, education ministries, society which includes the church, the teachers and the students. Motivation is defined as willingness and desire that makes one be committed to a given activity to achieve specific goals. Students’ motivation is a desire and willingness to learn using various educative methodology and style when dealing academic works.


Motivation may be defined as psychological forces that determine the direction of a person’s behaviour in an organization, a person level of effort and a person’s level of persistence in the face of obstacle. The direction of a person’s behaviour that people could engage in effort refers to how hard people work. Persistence refers to whether when faced with roadblock and obstacle, people can keep tying or give up.

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Motivation is so central management because it explain why people behave the way they do in organization. motivation also explain why a waiter is polite or not, why a nursery school teacher really tries to get to enjoy learning or just goes through the motions, and why some workers put faith twice the effort of others. Motivation can come from intrinsic sources intrinsically motivated behaviour is behavior that is performed for its own sake. The sources at motivation are actually performing the behaviour and motivation comes from doing the work itself. Extrinsically motivated behaviour is a behaviour that is performed to acquire material or social rewards or to avoid punishment, the sources at motivation is the consequences of the behaviour, not the behaviour itself.


Academic achievement or academic performance is the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has attained their short or long-term educational goals. Completion of educational benchmarks such as secondary school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees represent academic achievement. Academic performance is the measurement of student achievement across various academic subjects. Teachers and education officials typically measure achievement using classroom performance, graduation rates and results from standardized tests. Academic achievement is important for the successful development of young people in society. Students who do well in school are better able to make the transition into adulthood and to achieve occupational and economic success.


Approaches in the study of learning have been grouped around two orientations:

Quantitative (behavioral and cognitive) and qualitative: Within the qualitative orientation there are two research lines: Styles and learning approaches. The latter are within the paradigm of information processing, but with a different phenomenological approach. Learning approaches have a predisposing character or orientation to learn in a particular way. This gives them a similarity with learning styles which are “specific and relatively stable ways to process information.” Learning styles are predispositions, relatively general and constant, responding to a subject’s trend. They derive from the willingness of an individual to adopt the same strategy in different situations, regardless of the specific demands of the task. However, the approaches are more flexible than the styles since they modulate according to the context and needs using the necessary strategies to achieve the intended objectives, which are more specific or particular. A learning approach describes the combination of an intention and a strategy when addressing a specific task, at a particular time. Thus, when there is a surface approach, there is an intention of getting high grades applying appropriate memorization techniques, and then the student will have an adequate performance. As for the deep approach it involves a self-determined motivation, which involves effort and pleasure for what is been studied. In this regard the student has a high probability of obtaining a high performance in his/her studies. It is important to remember that learning approaches are not something stable in the student, that is, they are not an immutable personal characteristic. On the contrary, a student is able to adopt either learning approach (surface or deep) depending on the academic task. In other words, learning approaches are based on both: The students’ individual characteristics and the teaching context. For this reason, “a learning approach describes the nature of the relationship between student, context and task”.

Deep approach:

It is based on an intrinsic motivation; the student has an interest on the subject and learning has personal significance for him. Strategies are used to achieve understanding and to satisfy a personal curiosity. Regarding processes, the student interacts with the learning content, relates ideas with prior knowledge and experience, uses organizing principles to integrate ideas, relates evidence to findings and examines the logic of the arguments used. Regarding results, a deep level of understanding is obtained by integrating well the fundamental principles and facts. Students with a deep approach usually achieve a good academic performance. However, an exclusively deep approach may not be as good for attainment as the predominantly deep approach.

Surface approach: It is based on an extrinsic motivation; the student tries to “achieve something” and avoid failure. The student’s intent is to comply with the evaluation requirements by reproduction. Strategies are used in rote learning. The processes are oriented to rote learning by repetition, so that facts and ideas are barely interrelated. The student accepts ideas and information passively and concentrates only on a test or exam. The result is a rote memorization, without recognizing principles or guidelines, and a zero or superficial understanding level. These students have a poor performance with respect to the objectives and they think about leaving school early.


Motivation is seen as the person’s effort to accomplish his/her duties, dedicating the needed effort and continuing it. Motivation plays a significant role in individual’s educational life and their achievement. Motivation reflects in learners‟ choices of academic tasks, the time and effort they allocate to each task, their perseverance in academic tasks. Motivation also enables them correctly handle obstacles they come across in the learning process. Motivation is a multidimensional construct. To them, researchers in the field of motivation in learning agree that a learners engaging in any learning condition has to answer three central questions: „Can I do this activity?‟, „Do I want to do this activity and why?‟, and „What do I need to do to succeed?‟ The concept of motivation is closely related to other constructs in education and psychology. They include attention, needs, goals and interests which all focuses on stimulating individual learners and rising their interest and attention towards engaging in an action or behaviors and the accomplishment of such actions or goals. The concept of motivation is functional when an individual is thrilled to satisfy some need or desire. The individual will involve in, or be attracted toward actions that are perceived as having the possibility to meet this need or desire. Educational psychologists are of the view that students‟ motivation is an indispensable requirement for efficient learning to take place. In the event of insufficient motivation to learn, the outcome of such learning will be unsatisfactory. The concept of motivation has been defined differently. However, all centered on what induce a person to perform a given action. Motivation can also be seen as “what causes people to behave as they do”. To them, motivation sketches the achievement and pursuit of goals.

Motivation is usually regarded as a prerequisite for learning showed that the literature is mostly focused on the factors that make individuals to act and to pursue these actions. In particular, the studies underlining the importance of motivation as a factor that facilitates the learning achievements of the individuals have argued that learning achievement and effectiveness may vary according to motivators such as interest, desire and need. In this regard, although there are studies showing that there is a positive relationship between intrinsic motivation and achievement there are studies suggesting that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation should be combined together in order to motivate an individual to get into action for a goal.

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