Theories of Teaching and Learning

Teaching theories are as much part of the classroom as the student and the teacher. The effect individual theories have on an environment depends how they are incorporated within the classroom in addition to the influence they have had on the curriculum construction. This essay will briefly look at how motivation theory, cognitive and social cognitive theory along with constructivism have impacted on education and the classroom.

“Motivation is the process whereby goal-orientated activity is instigated and sustained” (Schunk, Pintrich & Meece, 2008. As cited in Eggen & Kauchak, 2010, p.284). Motivation comes in many forms and can be divided into two broad categories - extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivators are external factors which can motivate a student; rewards are an example of this. An issue with extrinsic motivators is that the desire for the learner to participate often lessens, once the rewards are withdrawn (McCullers, 1987). On the other hand intrinsic motivation comes from within - learning for the joy of it - where the desire to learn leads to a higher level of knowledge, and is a reward in itself. Kohn (1996, p.285) states that research suggests, “Rewards actually decrease interest in intrinsically motivating tasks, therefore sending the wrong message about learning” (as cited in Eggen & Kauchak, 2010a)

Teachers are able to set clear goals for learning and relate that learning to the needs of the students therefore motivating the intrinsic learner. While teachers should predominately use intrinsic motivators in their classrooms extrinsic motivators do have their place in motivating the extrinsically orientated student. Extrinsic motivators though should be used with caution as students will only ...

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