Educators continue to have concerns about student success and the motivation that is required to accomplish the academic goals set before their learners. They voice concerns about how to make classes more inspiring, how to encourage students to be more diligent and how to provide appropriate incentives; the list continues, as it has for decades (Ames & Ames, 1984; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Dörnyei, 2000; 2001; 2005; Zimmerman & Schunk, 2001). Numerous motivational concepts have emerged over the years designed to motivate the learner and ultimately produce the types of student behavior desired by instructors. Motivation is referred to by Dörnyei (2005, p. 1) as “...an abstract, hypothetical concept that we use to explain why people think and behave as they do.” The meaning of the term, motivation, is vague but we use it because it is the best way known to describe the abstract concept (Dörnyei, 2005).
The understanding of the term motivation is quite broad in that it includes an endless range of meanings. The range of meanings for motivation go from financial incentives such as a raise, which would bringing about a new level of life-style, to what some may perceive as a freedom that is seemingly idealistic, (i.e. release from prison) which one could possibly be driven to attain (Dörnyei, 2005). Though these two examples have little in common, they have an influence on behavior. Because of the seemingly limitless ways of interpreting motivation, is seen as a broad umbrella term that covers a number of meanings (Alderman, 1999; Calder, 1975; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Dörnyei, 2005; Gardner & Lambert, 1972).
Motivation theory started with Sigmund Freud, well known within psychoanalytic psychology. In 1914 and 1915 he postulated that behavior can be reduced to a number of drives; otherwise known by Freud as instinct theory. In empirical psychology it is suggested that motivation theory started with Hull’s drive theory in 1943 (Deci & Ryan, 1985). The drives on which Hull based his theory were hunger, thirst, sex and avoidance of pain. Today we have a much more complex world and, therefore, a more complex understanding of motivation and motivational behavior. The motivation seen in people, as presently practiced, appears to be primarily to avoid punishment or receive rewards (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975; Deci & Flaste, 1995; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Dornyei, 2001; 2001a; 2005; Weiner, 1979; 1990). Deci & Ryan (2004) have suggested that human needs are quite different. They remark that the needs are relatedness to others, competence, and autonomy. Frequently, a distinction is made between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The understanding of extrinsic motivation is that the goal providing satisfaction isindependent of the activity, whereas intrinsic motivation finds the satisfaction within theactivity itself (Calder & Staw, 1975; Covington & Dray, 2002; Csikszentmihalyi, 1975; Deci & Flaste, 1995; Gardner & Lambert, 1972; Noels, K. A., Pelletier, L. G., Clement, R., & Vallerand, R. J., 2000). The assumption commonly accepted is that extrinsic rewards such as money fulfill a basic human need. Obviously this societal based motivation system is effective in accomplishing the set goals of bringing about desired behaviors (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975; Deci & Ryan; 1985). Many researchers are considering not only behaviors based on external rewards, but also behaviors that are acted out based on the activity or behavior itself. (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975; 1991; 1997; 2000; Deci & Flaste, 1995; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, 2000). One of the more prominent paradigms in motivational psychology has been presented by self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Vallerand, 1997 as cited in Dörnyei, 2001). Self-determination theory places the types of regulations on a continuum between self-determined (intrinsic) and controlled (extrinsic) forms (Deci & Ryan, 1985; 2004; Dörnyei, 2001). For the purposes of this literature review, the terms selfdetermination and intrinsic motivation will be used interchangeably.
Where one is placed on this continuum is dependent on how ‘internalized’ the form of motivation is and “…how much the regulation has been transferred from outside to inside the individual” (Dörnyei, 2001, p. 47). According to Dörnyei (2001) there are five categories which have been identified on this continuum. They are identified as:
1. external regulation, meaning that the motivation comes strictly from outside sources, from rewards to avoidance of punishment;
2. introjected regulation, which is following imposed rules in order to avoid feeling guilty;
3. identified regulation; an example of this would be where one engages in an activity because of a perceived usefulness;
4. integrated regulation which involves choice made behavior(s) based on the individual’s values, needs and identity;
5. intrinsic motivation where the individual is involved in the activity for the sake of the activity and nothing more.
Observably, motivation is a complex concept. For this writing, the term will be defined as a drive that influences behavior, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, as well as other constructs based on motivational theory.
A substantive amount of research regarding motivation for language learning has been conducted over previous decades, especially in how it is related to perceived locus of control, attitude, self-efficacy and anxiety (Atkinson, 1957; Dörnyei, 2001; Gabillon, 2005; Gardner & Tremblay, 1994; Weiner, 1972). The years of research have brought about data allowing language instructors to have an understanding of the learner; therefore, potentially improving the language learner’s outcomes (Hsieh, 2004).
Motivation by itself appears to be understood, but language learning is quite different compared to other areas of study, in the matter that learners will potentially face anxiety and social distress (Saito, Horwitz & Garza, 1999). According to Saito, Horwitz and Garza (1999), the learner’s experience of anxiety can have a debilitating impact on their ability to learn to communicate in the second language. Moreover, the anxiety experienced in the classroom environment has been suggested to have a negative impact on the motivation (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975; Kitano, 2001). Because anxiety is an unpleasant experience, behaviors associated with anxiety reduction would be reinforced since the avoidance of pain or unpleasantness is one of the primary drives according to drive theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985). The problem Deci & Ryan (1985) note in this theory is that typically, exploratory behaviors are associated with excitement not fear and anxiety. The avoidance of anxiety does not appear to be a motivator for exploration or curiosity driven behaviors (Deci & Ryan 1985). Collectively, there are at least two factors that can either eliminate or diminish motivation. These are anxiety and self-efficacy. Interestingly, anxiety is not as commonly found in learners that have a high self-efficacy as in those who do not (Bandura, 1997). When a learner experiences diminished motivation, academic success is impacted. The thought of past failures brings about anxiety and, in turn, the self-efficacy is affected (Atkinson, 1974; 1983; Bandura, 1997; Ehrman, 1996). Ehrman (1996) and Bandura (1997) reiterate the reality that emotions play an important role in the learners’ lives. These concepts are interrelated in a learner and have potential to enhance a learner’s motivation and performance, as well as the reverse.
Lambert approached was that of attitude toward a culture and if it had an impact on the learner’s motivation to learn the new culture’s language. He later termed this motivation construct as integrative motivation (Gardner & Lambert, 1972; Csizér & Dörnyei, 2005). Gardner has continued research in this direction as other researchers strongly suggest the motivational framework to be expanded (Gardner & Tremblay, 1994; Noels, Clément & Pelletier, 2001; Oxford & Shearin, 1994). Dörnyei (1994) remarks that Gardner’s works are of great value to linguists and instructors of language; yet, there is a need to go beyond the social psychology of motivation and language learning. Gardner saw that there was more than aptitude involved in the success of learning a foreign language; therefore, he positioned most of his research in the direction of discovering other factors (Dörnyei, 2005; Gardner, 1960; 1994; Gardner & Lambert, 1972). “To say that one has to have ‘an ear for languages’ is to give an excuse rather than an answer, since it is too easy to transfer mysteries to biology, either as the source of one’s linguistic difficulties or as the source of one’s linguistic genius” (Gardner & Lambert, 1972). Based on the years of research, Gardner was accurate on this matter; yet, there still appears to be more questions than answers as to the source of one’s abilities, or the lack of it, in learning a foreign language (Csizér & Dörnyei, 2005; Dörnyei, 1994; 2001; Gardner & Lambert, 1972; Noels, Pelletier, Clement, & Vallerand, 2000; Oxford & Shearin, 1994). Dörnyei (1994) notes that Gardner & Lambert’s works (1972) are a necessary contribution to the academy, yet the motivational construct of Gardner’s excludes cogitative aspects of motivation to learn. From the time of Gardner’s founding of the Gardnerian motivational theory for second-language learning till now, focus has changed from behaviorist to more cognitive concepts (Dörnyei, 1994; 2001; 2001a). A variety of new approaches toward motivation and second-language acquisition came about in the 1990’s. Gardner educated many international scholars from his in-depth research (Dörnyei, 1994). Gardner & Tremblay (as cited in Dörnyei, 1994) called the 1990’s a ‘motivational renaissance’. The first three decades of research in the field of motivation and second-language learning was inspired by the three Canadian psychologists, Robert Gardner, Wallace Lambert, and Richard Clement. With their accomplishments, scholars had a solid foundation from which to work (Dörnyei, 1994; 2001; Gardner, 1994). Research bodies established motivation as the principle determinant of second language acquisition. Motivation and how it impacts the learner’s aptitude is also considered well researched since the 1990’s (Gardner, 1994). Approaching the new millennium the boundaries of second language (L2) motivation were pushed even further with researchers adopting complex perspectives (Dörnyei, 2001a). Studies in motivation would include: motivation from a process-oriented perspective; task motivation; self-determination theory and the neurobiological basis of motivation (Dörnyei, 2001a). Dörnyei (2001) suggests that L2 motivation as a situated construct will be one of the primary research areas of the future and that there is a need to focus research on temporal motivation. The study of temporal motivation will be particularly useful because “…it allows researchers to discuss both preactional ‘choice motivation’ (i.e., the motives leading to selecting goals and forming intentions) and volitional/executive factors during the actional phase (i.e., motives affecting ongoing learning behaviors) in a unified framework.” (Dörnyei, 2000; 2001) To focus on intrinsic motivation allows for a detailed review and the inclusion of various points of view. In the book “why we do what we do”, Deci & Flaste (1995) stated that we often either experience or see others experience extrinsic motivation controlling and forcing the focus to be on the outcomes, and that can ultimately lead to shortcuts that may be undesirable. It is difficult to compete with extrinsic motivation, for human behavior leads us to naturally seek gratification which is frequently offered as a reward for the display or performance of an attained skill (Atkinson, 1974; Deci & Ryan, 1985).
The growing interest in cognitive processes since the early 1930s has had an influence on the field of motivation. All of the cognitive theories from the 1930s till now direct our attention to the concept of choice, which is directly related to motivation and even more so to intrinsic motivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Noels, K. A., Pelletier, L. G., Clement, R., & Vallerand, R. J., 2000).