Theories of Motivation

Discuss and reflect on how different theories of motivation help explain your intention to maximise the experience of being a student in a University.
Motivation is a psychological attribute that stimulates the brain to act in a certain way in order to achieve a desired outcome or goal. It is considered the driving force of all decisions that individuals make throughout their life. This essay would seek to discuss and reflect on how the different theories on motivation would help guide the activities I partake in and experiences while at university. I shall draw on motivational theories such as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the Intrinsic and Extrinsic theory to help demonstrate why I believe some university activities or experiences (or lack of), may be more beneficial for me specifically.

This report will demonstrate how the different theories of motivation help explain my intentions to maximise my experience of being a student in a University. In doing so, I will put forward my intentions to engage in various activities whilst studying at University as well as any clubs or societies I intend to join.
Motivation and University Life
Intention to maximise the experience of being a student in a University
Motivation is integral to maximising the experience of being a student because unless I remain motivated throughout my time at University I will be less likely to succeed. In order to stay focused I thereby intend to fully engage in co-curricular activities. Co-curricular activities are non-academic voluntary activities that seek to enhance self discipline, social interaction, leadership and self-confidence (Ferguson, 2001, p. 6).
Thus, not only will engaging in such activities help keep me motivated at University but they will also look extremely good on my CV and help me to obtain a job once I leave University. Such activities also “provide opportunities to apply academic skills in other arenas as part of a well-rounded education” (Klesse, 2004, p. 39). By engaging in co-curricular activities it is evident that I fully intend to maximise my University experience and make the most out of student life. This will prepare me fully for life after University and will provide me with a positive outlook on life as a University student.
Although, co-curricular activities can often lead to added pressure and stress, the pros of engaging in such activities outweigh the cons and I recognise the value of taking part in these activities as part of my career development. The activities that I intend to take part in include; volunteering for various projects, undertaking part-time work and becoming a member of interesting and applicable societies and clubs (The Guardian, 2013, p. 1). By demonstrating that I have engaged in various activities as part of my University life will not only benefit me, but it will also be highly valued by any potential employers. This will certainly add to my motivation of being a student since I will be confident that I have maximised my experiences of University life, whilst at the same time preparing myself for the future.
Theories of Motivation
There are various motivational theories that seek to explain why people act in certain ways and are generally based upon conscious and unconscious motivations. Here I will seek to explain how three of these motivational theories help explain my own intentions to maximise the experience of being a student by engaging in various co-curricular activities. The first theory that helps to explain this is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. According to Maslow, there are five classes of hierarchic needs which people are generally motivated by.
These needs are; physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem and self-actualization (Pritchard and Ashwood, 2008, p. 6). Such needs cause one to act in a certain way in order to gain satisfaction and Maslow believes that lower needs take priority. This is because the higher needs will not be fully activated unless the lower needs have first been satisfied. For example, if I haven’t eaten or slept properly (physiological) then I will not be motivated to achieve my self-esteem desires. This will in turn impact upon my experiences of University life as I will not be motivated to maximise my University life experiences.
Another motivational theory that helps to explain my own intentions is the Incentive Theory which is the desire to obtain external rewards. This theory is one of the main motivational theories that exists and illustrates that individuals are motivated by a desire to reinforce incentives. As put by Bernstein (2011, p. 4); “people are pulled toward behaviours that offer positive incentives and pushed away from behaviours associated with negative incentives.” This suggests that different types of behaviour are generally caused by the different incentives to which they apply. Therefore, individuals with different incentives will act in different ways.
My incentive to achieve success and obtain good grades at University will affect the way I behave. Regardless, the value of my incentives can change over time and will pretty much be dependent upon the situation that I am in at the time (Franzoi, 2011, p. 3). An example of this is the praise which I may receive from tutors. Such praise may have greater value in certain situations, but not in others. In effect, incentives can only be considered a powerful tool if great importance is being placed upon them.
The final motivational theory that will help to explain my intentions to maximise the experience of being a student in a University is the Intrinsic and Extrinsic theory. This theory is based upon the belief that motivation is divided into two types namely; internal (intrinsic) and external (extrinsic) motivation. Intrinsic motivation occurs when an individual is driven by an interest in a particular task, whereas extrinsic motivation occurs when an individual is influenced by external factors.
It has been suggested that extrinsic motivation often results in a reduction of intrinsic motivation as individuals are more likely to be influenced by external sources (Wilson and Lassiter, 1982, p. 811). Whilst at University I will influenced by both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. This is because I will be motivated to study in order to get a good grade (extrinsic) and because I enjoy the subject (intrinsic). In addition, I will also be motivated to take part in co-curricular activities because it will assist in my development once I leave University (extrinsic) and I will also find it enjoyable whilst studying (intrinsic). In effect, the main difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations is the fact that extrinsic motivation arises from outside influences, whilst intrinsic motivation arises from within.
Importance of motivation in University
Motivation is clearly an important attribute to have whilst studying at University since it will help one to develop further and make life easier and more enjoyable whilst studying. From these findings it is evident that motivation is driven by the desire to succeed, which can be attained by taking full advantages of all the activities Universities have to offer. Provided that I maximise the experience of University life by taking part in co-curricular activities whilst studying, I will remain focused and motivated.
In order to stay motivated it is essential that I avoid situations that will most likely be distracting and set goals and targets. This will ensure that I stay motivated to study as I will be able to clearly identify the goals and targets that I have set out to achieve. Long term goals will include; graduating, being employable, obtaining my dream job and proving to myself and others that I can achieve anything that I set out to do. Short terms goals will include; improving the way I study, taking part in co-curricular activities, obtaining part-time work in order ease financial pressures, creating a study timetable and getting organised.
Whilst it can be extremely difficult to stay focused when there are outside distractions, I can alleviate this by thinking about ways to eliminate such distractions in advance and managing my time appropriately. As put by Rybak (2007, p. 14); “If you care about it enough to stay motivated you’re ahead of the game.” Nevertheless, in order to stay motivated, I need to first identify my goals and prioritise any tasks and activities that will me to achieve them.
Overall, it is clear that the different theories of motivation do help to explain my intention to maximise the experience of being a student in a University. This is because motivation is a psychological attributes that enables me to achieve my desired goals and targets. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs clearly demonstrates that in order for me to achieve my goals, I first need to consider the five classes of hierarchal needs and ensure that my lower needs are given priority over my higher needs.
This is because he higher needs will not be fully activated unless the lower needs have first been satisfied. The Incentive theory also signifies how I can stay motivated whilst at University by focusing on behaviours that offer positive as opposed to negative incentives. Finally, the Intrinsic and Extrinsic theory allows me to focus on both internal and external motivations so that I can fully appreciate and achieve my objectives.

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Bernstein, D. A. (2011). Essentials of psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Ferguson, J. G., (2001) Co-Curricular Activities: A Pathway to Careers, Facts on File, Business & Economics.
Franzoi, S. L. (2011). Psychology: A discovery experience. Mason, OH: South-Western, Cengage Learning.
Klesse, E. J., (2004) Student Activities in Today’s Schools: Essential Learning for All Youth, R&L Education.
Pritchard, R., and Ashwood, E., (2008) Managing Motivation. New York: Taylor & Francis Group.
Rybak, J., (2007) What’s Wrong with University: And How to Make It Work for You Anyway, ECW Press.
The Guardian., (2013) Why our students need co-curricular activities, not extra-curricular, activities, Learning and Teaching Hub, <> [Accessed 10 November, 2013].
Wilson, T, D. and Lassiter, G. D., (1982) Increasing intrinsic interest with superfluous extrinsic constraints. Journal of personality and social psychology, 42 (5).

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