‘Motivation’ can be described as the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviours. It is what causes us to carry out the action and involves biological, emotional, social and cognitive forces that activate the particular behavior. In everyday terms, motivation is usually used to describe the reason why a person does something.

Psychologists have used various theories of motivation (e.g. Instinct theory, Drive theory, Arousal theory, Humanistic theory, Incentive theory and Expectancy theory) to explain why people do what they do. Although individual theories can offer greater understanding of human motivation, it is more realistic to assume that different forces interact to motivate behavior.

Motivation can come from external/extrinsic (rewards, good grades, avoiding disapproval from others) or internal/intrinsic factors (curiosity, interest or adding value by education). For a student, according to Weiner (1990), a sense of belonging to a school is a key motivation for academic success with effort being the main indicator of motivation. Effort will only be used if the student believes they will succeed.

Goal Setting

Setting clear, defined goals (both short-term and longer-term) is very important in helping one focus and help give direction and purpose. It also allows them to take control of the current situation as well as providing a benchmark for determining success.

Understanding the reasons for wanting to achieve high scores and focusing on accomplishing future goals can provide an impetus to persevere throughout the year with a favourable outcome

SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound) goals, whether it is for completing a project or to improve performance are a good way to help clarify and establish what you want to accomplish in a specific, given time (you can refer to a worksheet here to help with your own goal setting)

Setting SMART Goals: