How Motivation Affects Academic Performance

Most of the time, parents and teachers ask the question, “How can I motivate my child or my student to study harder and achieve their academic goals?”

True enough, motivating a student learner to study hard can be a real pain in the beginning. But if you’re really on it, you can definitely try some proven motivating strategies that will help you in pushing someone towards academic performance. You just need to profile these learners precisely.

Student learners are motivated in so many different ways, especially when it comes to acquiring knowledge and achieving academic performance. A student learner may be interested in classroom participation or discussion while another may be more productive in studying alone or in a quiet place like a library. Still, others may be more enthusiastic about social work, extracurricular activities, or sports.

Effects of Motivation on Students’ Academic Performance

To uplift the quality and of students’ learning experience, motivation from parents and teachers can be really influential. Here’s how motivation affects students’ academic performance:

Motivation affects cognitive procedures and psychological states

In a book titled Motivation and Cognitive Control by Todd Braver, he implies that individuals are not extending their full capabilities when it comes to cognitive engagement or development. Motivation affects how an individual pays attention to specific information and attempts to understand the learning materials through experiences, thoughts, ideas and senses rather than just going through the process of rote learning.

Motivation affects students’ performance based on their nature

Students are intrinsically motivated if they love or enjoy what they are doing even if there is no reward or incentive for it. While students are extrinsically motivated if they do not enjoy what they do, they will still do so to obtain the rewards or tokens. Teachers often encourage intrinsic motivation as it is best for their students in the long run. Some action plans for elevating intrinsic motivation include triggering their interests, keeping up with their curiosity, assisting them in goal setting, and making sure that they are really learning during the process.

Aside from being motivated intrinsically, being motivated extrinsically can also be helpful. However, this should be used only if the students are uninterested in what they need to do or learn. Extrinsic motivation can help in developing intrinsic motivation if the students are not just doing their tasks because of the reward but tend to enjoy and are comfortable in learning these “uninteresting” things.

Motivation affects determination, effort, and energy

Motivation uplifts student’s enthusiasm about the activities presented to them. Once they get motivated to achieve something by doing the tasks, they will eventually exert their full effort, time, and energy. In this way, they become determined or persistent in accomplishing things even if these are not of their interest. This will also determine if they are pursuing such tasks on a voluntary or on a compulsory basis.

Motivation affects students’ behavior and values

Motivating someone with behavioral issues can be really hard. But it should not stop us from transforming their negative behavior and attitude into positive ones. The best way to deal with it is to align the motivation in a way that they can understand the benefits of the tasks and its advantages. Proper discipline should be taught and implemented so that they will know their limitations.

Factors that affect motivation

When a new academic year approaches, the most prevalent problem parents and teachers encounter is the lack of motivation from students. Students can feel unenthusiastic towards studying or learning, when: they are scared to fail; when they are not challenged; when they don’t feel the importance of studying; when they have emotional or anger issues; or when they need special attention.

According to some researches, student learners’ motivation to study or acquire a new set of skills can change within a short span of time or with some barriers along the way. Because of these, those students who are unmotivated need assistance from other people, particularly by offering them some advantages and rewards for achieving the goal. Below are some factors that affect student motivation:

Environment at home and at school

The American Psychological Association conducted a study on how motivation can be a big factor in achieving academic goals in a classroom setting. There were 176 junior high school students who were selected randomly and were asked to answer a questionnaire that talked about their views on some motivational processes and strategies that were deemed effective for them. The findings demonstrate that motivating students depends on their willingness and open-mindedness about these kinds of strategic undertakings as well as the environment they are in.

Views and impressions

Some students deal with their assignments or school projects as something that they should finish right away without really understanding it or learning from it. They try to avoid reading the instructions or the resource materials and come up with answers just to satisfy the requirements. Some would think that the lectures and terms they need to memorize or review are not really relevant in their everyday lives, and they try to give reasons or alibis for this. They also tend to make this as an excuse so that they can get away with it easily.

Relationship with parents and teachers

Parents, as their first teachers, need to really exert an unwavering effort and patience in motivating their children when it comes to achieving academic excellence. They should be able to understand the needs of their children and focus on assisting them when they need help. School teachers, on the other hand, need to be aware that their students may come from different backgrounds, races, and culture. They should respect these uncontrollable differences, but still create a harmonious relationship among everyone. This way, motivating each student can be an easy task to undertake.

Interests and abilities

It’s truly essential to gauge the interests or skills of the students so that their parents and teachers will know how to properly motivate them. Their interests, talents, and abilities will push them to focus on those specific tasks that will enable them to showcase what they’ve really got. This will also diminish the boredom they may tend to feel when completing tasks that they are not interested in. They might stumble and feel incapable of accomplishing things as well. Thus, it’s really important to know their focus areas in order to correctly strategize on how to motivate them.

What can be done to improve student motivation?

Here’s how to motivate student learners:

Be their role model or introduce someone who can be their inspiration

Students nowadays can be really motivated when there’s someone who can cope with their learning curve, as well as their attitude towards working on a set goal. Hence, parents and teachers need to have the right mindset in order to motivate students and support them with their chosen endeavors. Numerous studies have revealed that people learn more when they have role models to look up to and motivate them so that they can be inspired and guided accordingly.

Focus on their strengths before working out on their weaknesses

Student learners who are afraid to try out new things or tasks happen to get pressured because of their weaknesses. Sometimes, they just don’t want to commit mistakes. In order to motivate them, it would really be best to know what their strengths are and focus on those things first before trying to deal with their weaknesses. When they are confident enough that they can do things they are good at, it would be easier to target their weaknesses and flaws and work on them little by little.

Relate their school work to things they’re interested in

One way to motivate an individual is to involve them in activities that interest them or assign them a role they can take on and fulfill. Parents and teachers are not the center of learning. They should just act as facilitators of the class by helping, guiding, assisting, and directing students so that they can learn new things on their own. They should also get motivated to achieve a good performance by making them understand why they need to experience or learn these things.

Work towards a common goal and achieve it together

Motivation establishes definite goals. Thus, it influences the choices individuals decide to venture into. In other words, individuals need to decide whether they will enroll in a science or art class, whether to try out in the school’s basketball team. or complete a school project within the deadline. This will also determine the effort or energy an individual will put into the chosen tasks.

Let them know how they can control the way they learn

The Attribution theory by Heider and Weiner suggests that every individual is somewhat trying to give reasons for success or failure because of the following attributions. (See the table below for reference):



No Control





Task Difficulty

Reinforce the right behavior you want them to portray

The cognitive dissonance theory implies that if there is a deviation between two beliefs, two actions, or one belief and one action, individuals tend to act as if they need to settle disagreements the soonest. This theory suggests that when there is a deviation, individuals will try to change their behaviors, which will lead to rectifying the pattern of their thoughts.

Give incentives and rewards in order to motivate them

This expectancy theory proposes the equation below:

Motivation = Expectancy * Instrumentality * Valance

The factors Expectancy (Perceived Probability of Success), Instrumentality (Connection of Success and Reward) and Valance (Value of Obtaining Goal) are multiplied to reach Motivation. This means that if one factor is low, it will affect the overall level of motivation.

Hence, these three factors must be of high value to be able to get motivation at its highest state or level. To be able to maintain high levels of these three factors, parents and teachers must expect that students will achieve success after motivating them, fulfilling promised rewards, and making sure that set goals are fully met.

Don’t give up on them!

It may take some time before you become confident in profiling students and motivating them in a way that will benefit you both. You just have to keep in mind that motivating them to achieve academic excellence will bring fruitful results for them in the long run.

In addition to that, make sure to always have a positive mindset and enough patience when dealing with student learners, especially those who are rather slow in showing interest or not actively participating in the activities. Let them know that you’re always there for them when they need you the most. It would also be great to set proper expectations and set up an action plan that you can effectively carry out within their study time.


Motivation is an imperative factor in a student’s preparedness and desire to learn. These motivated students are curious and have the willingness to understand the importance of education. On another note, parents and teachers can create an environment where student’s learning will be more organized and effective by encouraging students to be committed and motivated.

In this case, motivating an individual is absolutely necessary for learning. To be able to sustain their interests and the benefits of achieving academic excellence, they should receive impeccable support and constructive feedback from their mentors, advisers, and role models. By having this kind of support, they will be aware of the outcome or end results of their behaviors and actions.

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