I made my own edited version of the original discussion. This version has been re-ordered a bit and given a contents list. It was originally created to offer an immediate record, but now the regular itforum web version (which also has an index) is probably more historically accurate.
Some introductory commonsense.
Must have motivation: he learning depends upon conscious and actions and effort.
Signs of a problem: the phenomenology
This section aims to do two things together: to say what the problem is, what
the warning sings or puzzles were that lead, or at any rate led me, to look
for understanding; and to describe (briefly) what each problem feels like from
inside. Knowing what something feels like is part of understanding it.
It has been argued that giving learners confidence was all that matters.
In a focus group with students asking them about the feedback they were
getting on a course (in tutorials on their programming exercises) they said
that what mattered to them was getting some confidence from the tutor. This
makes a nonsense of my concepts about levels of feedback, and indeed about
all the theories of teaching and learning I usually attend to.
The question for me came from a context of students learning how to program computers on a conversion MSc course, where a) there is a big range of prior ability, so I see many students who don't need any confidence boosting, but also many that do. b) programming gives the intrinsic feedback of whether the program runs which seems to me (from of course a perspective of confidence) to be enough.
Your answers give me a somewhat better grasp on that difference.
For me part of the puzzle is or was that by "motivation" I usually mean a
decision on how to spend one's time e.g. if coursework is for credit, then
effort, in not then none. And these students do not lack motivation in the
sense of desire for success and willingness to make an effort. So it isn't
obvious to me that confidence is at all a related issue. But some of the
reminders you sent it in fact are making a connection across that gap from
deciding I could do it but don't think it's worth my time, to deciding that
it's not worth my time because I couldn't do it successfully.
I have failed to learn, therefore I feel I don't want to learn.
I will avoid trying to learn, because if I then fail it will be evidence that
I am incompetent at learning i.e. failure to try is less painful than failure
to learn after trying.
Some theories of motivation define it in terms of behaviour. This leads to
some consequences that sound silly e.g. you are tempted to steal a million
pounds you find lying in a bag, but instead hand it into the police. This
would be described as you not having enough motivation to be rich, as would
failing to claim a million that is rightfully your because you can't be
bothered to fill in a claim form. Or in a learning context, such theories
would equate someone who failed an exam because they lay around watching TV
instead of studying, with someone who was prevented from studying
by having to care for a sick relative.
On the other hand, many people respond to having a bad time learning something
(e.g. mathematics) by ceasing to wish to learn it. This is a real
psychological phenomena that happens frequently (but not always), yet is
essentially irrational: confounding how desirable something is with how hard
it is to get.
Must have motivation: HE effort.
Both value and feasible cost: multiply / AND.
Types of 'confidence'
The meanings of "confidence" I identify are:
The review I have done suggests there are three types of confidence:
Museums and magazines show how important intrinsic interest is. In a different subdivision, interest is a function of connections to the already known and surprise. So the greater the number of connections of the new item to existing knowledge, the greater the interest; but surprise can only occur when you already have a predictive theory of that item/event. Enthusiasts will examine lots of data, probably looking for and building patterns. So the final theory is, it is the relation of the new item to rules. The more rules you have, the better the chance new items have of testing them; and perhaps scoring highly as interesting by disconfirming them; or equally, allowing a new pattern to be noticed. So perhaps the pleasure of interest depends on new rule formation.
A different hybrid is used by Vallerand and others, called "amotivation". This apparently refers to some impulse to do an activity (e.g. attend a class) without any belief that this will lead to a desired outcome for the learner of any kind. This is important as discussed below: basically because a necessary (and so important) aspect of learning is a degree of trying and learning things before you know why they are worth knowing: trusting teachers or other people, attending to what you see others attending to, before you know why they are attending to them. This is learning by imitation, but at the level of attention or motivation (perhaps the only or main level at which it can work). Put another way, the motivation is not to learn but to do the surface activities that in others may be done as instrumental in learning (e.g. attending a class), although in other cases (such as chatting to people at a party), it may not be normally conceived of as related to learning, even though learning often occurs as a side effect. On the one hand we must expect reduced learning because the motivation does not extend to the mental processing required for learning, but on the other hand we should recognise that learning can and even must sometimes occur without such intentions but simply as a consequence of surface actions undertaken for other motives.
Basically, motivation is about the will and choosing to act. Learning is
partly about involuntary effects (some learning is involuntary e.g. do you
remember talking to your friend today? did you have to try to memorise that
fact as a willed goal?), partly about voluntary learning especially in formal
education, and partly in between. The in-between is inescapable as many
(Piaget, Bruner, ...) have remarked. In the end you cannot explain to a
learner exactly why it is worth learning a particular topic: they can only
decide that after they have learned it, because knowing what a topic is exactly
is to learn it. To a greater or lesser extent this is a large part of our
lives; it is why we listen to the news (to learn what we don't know to ask
about, but quite often agree afterwards we are glad to have learned), why we
have peer-reviewed journals (to raise the chances that it is worth our reading
those papers before we know what they are like), and so on.
So motivation can never wholly control learning: important amounts of learning are involuntary. And also, deep learning may always be involuntary in the sense that the motivation was for something else: understanding, not learning. In fact there may be three levels here: a) deep learning, where the motivation is for understanding, b) shallow learning, where the motivation is for learning, and c) amotivation, where the motivation is for some surface behaviour such as doing or looking at what others are doing or looking at.
The issue is in part whether costs and benefits are separately present in the mind, or only a net balance called "motivation". The motivation literature seems to deal only with the latter, while it would seem rational to take the former position. In favour of my argument, to deny the distinction between costs and benefits and to use only the net result would lead to the following. Imagine that you could retire now very rich if only you sold your children into slavery. The motivation literature would describe your failure to do this as "low motivation". This fails to distinguish cases where very large costs and benefits co-exist from cases where both are low (e.g. wanting some chocolate, but not enough to go to the store just for that). On the other hand, self-efficacy and related constructs correspond to the fact that, especially in the case of learning, we humans do seem to experience it as a single psychological variable.
An extreme theory would be: motivation ("do you want to learn?") makes no difference, it is really a side-effect, a synonym for attitudes in the learner ("do you like math?"). But a commonsense view is that motivation causes effort, which causes learning. However we naturally adjust our interest according to perceived reward i.e. we look at the success:effort ratio. What matters about motivation, behaviourally, is effort. (If you learn as a side-effect then effort doesn't matter.)
Behaviour probably depends on the ratio or difference of 2 variables: expected reward, and expected cost (effort, discomfort). Does this cost-benefit analysis make sense, given that a) the effort of attention and thinking seem so small, or at any rate different in kind from external rewards; b) the rewards of being interested i.e. the pleasure in understanding and knowing do not seem comparable to other kinds of reward? Still, in the end cost-benefit analysis seems sensible because behaviour requires a (1-dimensional) choice, so somehow things are compared.
N.B. I fall asleep over TV documentaries when tired, but not when alert. Nevertheless I choose and feel better after viewing them. This implies that the tradeoff does not just depend on externals, but on internal body state. So there are no constants in motivational design! The costs and benefits change from hour to hour, and are not personality characteristics.
If you administer a questionnaire such as the AMS asking students to fill it in w.r.t. the semester-long course that is one thing; but you could also ask them to fill it in after each little learning activity, and you might find something different. Decisions about action are made all the time, and some (perhaps much) motivation changes just as fast.
1) Joe Beckman's idea that teaching, leadership, and salesmanship are identical in that they depend on "inspiration" which is to do with transferring ownership of an idea from teacher to learner.
2) The overwhelming importance of confidence in language learning. To do with social interaction, and perhaps confidence at succeeding at the surrounding task of communication even with very low technical skills.
The words are:
Vallerand, R.J. & Bissonnette, R. (1992). Intrinsic, extrinsic and amotivational styles as predictors of behavior: A prospective study. Journal of Personality (60), (3), 599-620.
Vallerand, R.J., Pelletier, L.G., Blais, M.R., Briere, N.M., Senecal, C., & Vallieres, E.F. (1992). The Academic Motivation Scale: A measure of intrinsic, extrinsic, and amotivation in education, Educational and Psychological Measurement, 52, 1003-1017.
Vallerand, R.J., Pelletier, L.G., Blais, M.R., Briere, N.M., Senecal, C., & Vallieres, E.F. (1993). On the assessment of intrinsic, extrinsic, and amotivation in education: Evidence on the concurrent and construct validity of the Academic Motivation Scale. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 53, 159-173.
Bev Taylor's Bibliography on motivation and learning
An old half-cooked model of mine
Keller, J.M. (1983). Motivational design of instruction. In C. M. Reigeluth (ed.) Instructional Theories and Models: An Overview of Their Current Status. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, pp.383-434.
Keller, J.M. (1984). The use of the ARCS model of motivation in teacher training. In Shaw, K., & Trott, A.J. (Eds.). Aspects of Educational Technology, Volume XVII. London: Kogan Page, pp. 140-145.
Keller, J.M. (1987). Strategies for stimulating the motivation to learn. Performance & Instruction, 26 (8), 1-7.
Keller, J.M. (1987). The systematic process of motivational design. Performance & Instruction, 26 (9), 1-8.
Keller, J.M. (1987). Development and use of the ARCS model of motivational design. Journal of Instructional Development, 10(3), 2-10.
Keller, J.M., & Kopp, T.W. (1987). Application of the ARCS model to motivational design. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional Theories in Action: Lessons Illustrating Selected Theories. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum, Publishers, 289-320.
Keller, J.M., & Suzuki, K. (1988). Application of the ARCS model to courseware design. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Instructional Designs for Microcomputer Courseware. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum, Publisher, pp.401-434.
Keller, J.M., & Keller, B.H. (1991). Motivating learners with multimedia instruction. Proceedings of the International Conference on Multi-Media in Education and Training (ICOMMET '91). Tokyo, Japan: The Japanese Association for Educational Technology and the International Society for Technology in Education.
Keller, J.M. (1992) Enhancing the motivation to learn: Origins and applications of the ARCS model. Reports from the Institute of Education (Sendai, Japan: Institute of Education, Tohoku Gakuin University), 11 pp.45-67.
Keller, J.M., & Burkman, E. (1993). Motivation. In M. Fleming (Ed.), Instructional Message Design, 2nd Edition. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Press.
Astleitner, H., & Keller, J. (1995). A model of motivationally adaptive computer-assisted instruction, Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 27 (3), 270-281.
Keller, J.M. (1996). Motivational design and multimedia: Beyond the novelty effect. Proceedings of the International Symposium on New Technologies of Instruction, 1966. Taipei: Taiwan: National Taiwan Teacher's College. (This document is available in English and Chinese.)
Keller, J.M. (1994). Trends and tactics for employee motivation, HR Horizons, 115 (Winter 94), 5-10.