Academic Motivation During Adolescence

July 3, 2020
In order to achieve good academic performance, students need to have a desire to learn and do well. With that in mind, we're going to look at the importance of academic motivation during adolescence.

Academic motivation during adolescence is fundamental when it comes to academic success in high school. What’s more, it’s also a critical factor in the maximum development of an individual’s potential, abilities, and capacities. Therefore, both teachers and households should encourage an interest in learning and studies.

In this sense, we need to take into account that each student is motivated for different reasons. Therefore, it’s important to detect what they are in order to influence each student’s conduct.

“Motivation is the gasoline of the brain.”

– Anonymous –

Academic motivation during adolescence

According to professor and pedagogue Enrique Martínez Salanova Sánchez, we can define motivation to learn as follows:

“The interest that a student has in his or her own learning or in activities that are conducive to learning. This motivation can be acquired, maintained, or increased depending on intrinsic and extrinsic elements.

Therefore, academic motivation during adolescence depends on several factors that involve individuals as well as their environment.

Academic Motivation During Adolescence

Desires and needs that determine academic motivation during adolescence

Just as Jesus Alonso Tapia indicates, there are 7 types of desires or needs that determine a student’s attitude when it comes to facing academic tasks:

  • A desire for mastery or to feel competent. The student values the acquisition of competencies and knowledge. Therefore, he or she enjoys performing activities or exercises that allow for learning
  • The desire to learn something useful. The student values acquiring knowledge that will be useful in order to perform:
  • A desire to receive external rewards or incentives. The student demonstrates an interest in learning and tries to achieve good results in order to receive social and material recompense.
  • A need to obtain good grades. The student doesn’t study in order to learn, but rather in order to pass or to get a good report card. This need leads students to repetitive and memorization-based learning.
  • A need to preserve self-esteem. The student makes an effort in order to achieve good academic performance and, thereby, good self-esteem. This is because academic self-concept is associated with the development of self-esteem during adolescence.
  • A need for autonomy and control of one’s own conduct. The student wants to be independent. Therefore, he or she shows more motivation when it comes to activities that allow for a certain degree of freedom. At the same time, he or she rejects those tasks that he or she deems as imposed or inflexible.
  • A need for the acceptance of teachers and classmates. The student shows academic interest in order to gain the acceptance and admiration of teachers or peers. In fact, when he or she perceives disapproval from these groups, he or she expresses rejection towards anything school-related.
Academic Motivation During Adolescence

Other factors that influence academic motivation during adolescence

The perception of success and of failure also determines academic motivation during adolescence. So, previous experiences influence the conduct and personal attributions that one makes about the following aspects:

  • Abilities and capacities.
  • Effort.
  • Mastery of the task.
  • Luck.

Furthermore, the expectations of teachers are vital when it comes to motivating students. Therefore, educators must try to reinforce all of their students positively and equally by providing them with the following:

  • A warm environment that encourages communication and social relations.
  • Information and unconditional assistance – on an academic, emotional, and personal level.
  • Opportunities to respond and participate actively.
  • Positive feedback when they complete their homework well.
  • Constructive criticism when they make mistakes in academic activities.

“Motivation is the best tool for learning, and students that are motivated learn more and better.”

  • Junco-Herrera, I. (2010). La motivación en el proceso enseñanza-aprendizaje. Temas para la educación: revista digital para profesionales de la enseñanza, (9).
  • Navarrete, B. (2009). La motivación en el aula. Funciones del profesor para mejorar la motivación en el Revista D igital Innovación y Experiencia Educativa, (15).
  • Alonso-Tapia, J. (1998). Motivar para el aprendizaje. Barcelona: Edebé.