Inquisitive and self-directed learning is a natural behavior for young children. They marvel at each new discovery and strive to understand the meaning behind every question in their world. However, older children seem to be resistant to learning unless directed by teachers or parents with various forms of external recognition (Deci and Ryan, 1981). Their enthusiasm and inner desire for understanding has diminished. Learning, to older children has become directly connected to demands, controls, and rewards.
In order to understand why this attitude toward learning develops, the concept of motivation in education must be defined and examined in a theoretical sense. "Motivation is an essential condition of learning" (Ray, 1992, p.3). A motivating condition may be defined as an emotion, desire, physiological need, or similar impulse that acts as an incitement to action. Ray (1992) comments that "motivation in education is concerned with students’ motivation to learn" (p.3). With the understanding of these defined concepts in hand, we can begin to examine the reasons behind school age children losing their enthusiasm for learning. In order to comprehend the reason for the undermining of this intrinsic behavior, we must acknowledge the basic theories of motivation from an eclectic standpoint. By embracing the concepts of learning from both a behaviorist and cognitive point of view, a teacher can tailor the use of reinforcement in the classroom to commit the students to achieving academic excellence with enthusiasm and devotion.
Humanistic behavior and learning techniques are viewed from many different positions of psychological theories (Ramirez, 1983). In order for a teacher to effectively apply these psychological principles in their classroom, they must become knowledgeable in the various conflicting theories. Looking at the theoretical aspect of motivation to learn provides background information about the basic nature of different learning processes (Ericksen, 1974). The locus of control in motivation is the subject area where separate theoretical views come into play. People have either an internal locus of control, an external locus of control, or are simply amotivated. "Intrinsic motivation is a state where the relevance for the learner of the content of the material is the main reason for learning. Extrinsic motivation for learning is a state where the reasons for the learning effort have nothing to do with the content of the learning material. A good learning performance serves only as a means for achieving some desired end result." (Marton, 1982, p.8)
"Amotivated people tend to be passive and non-responsive. They seem to believe that they cannot have a meaningful impact on their environment, so they tend not to behave. They frequently feel helpless and are easily upset. Their learning is slow and seems to be painful" (Deci and Ryan, 1981, p.2)
"The question of how people learn divides...