Pathways to Student Motivation

Factors impacting student motivation in schools

June 26, 2022

Factors impacting student motivation in schools

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A meta-analysis of factors which impact student motivation.

What factors have the greatest impact on motivation?

Students’ need for competence and teachers’ autonomy support for students has the greatest impact on student motivation. Other factors like quality feedback also impact student motivation, supporting Hattie‘s claim that teachers are at the forefront of student achievement.

The most influential factors on student motivation  

The authors thoroughly identified studies which matched strict criteria and designed a coding spreadsheet to find correlation between factors, identifying how each factor impacted student motivation. This allowed them to identify 144 studies with over 79,000 students ranging from primary to university age. The study also examined the impact of teacher and parent autonomy support as aspects that impact motivation. The need for competence and autonomy support from teachers were found to be the most influential factors on student motivation. The authors also highlight other aspects within schools such as low pressure and quality feedback as correlating aspects influencing student motivation. The study also supports Hattie‘s claim that teachers are essential in student achievement.

Autonomy support vs reward and punishment  

The study emphasized that teachers ought to be allowed to practice autonomy-support methods rather than use rewards or punishment. Yet these methods are also effective even when they are applied in a non-high-pressure environment where testing or result-driven pay is not prevalent.

Notable Quote: 

“Results show that teacher autonomy support predicts students’ need satisfaction and self-determined motivation more strongly than parental autonomy support. Specifically, they show that regardless of age, school level, nationality, or gender, autonomy support predicts autonomous types of motivation, thereby providing support for existing interventions designed to increase student need satisfaction and motivation through autonomy-supportive practices. These results concur with Hattie’s (2009) meta-analysis of 800+ student achievement predictors showing that teachers are at the forefront of learning experiences for students and are likely to have the strongest influence on student motivation.”

Personal Takeaway:

It resonated with me because I believe teachers have a great influence on student motivation and achieving competence. Moreover, the correlation between teacher support and quality feedback is very interesting. I will aim to embed more autonomy support in my teaching and avoid rewards and punishment where possible because my setting would allow for such autonomy-support methods to be implemented. Furthermore, it aligns with the MARIO framework principle of developing student self-efficacy and self-directed learning using the MARIO approach in all that we do in the classroom.


Frankie Garbutt

Summarized Article:

Bureau, J. S., Howard, J. L., Chong, J. X., & Guay, F. (2021). Pathways to student motivation: A meta-analysis of antecedents of autonomous and controlled motivations. Review of Educational Research, 92(1), 46–72.

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