What Motivation Theories Are The Most Useful For A College Student?

Going through college isn’t as easy as completing high school.

In high school, you have your parents, your community and many other factors that keep you in check.

College, on the other hand, is not compulsory.

So, without motivation, you may end up dropping out. Some students who don’t drop out still struggle with getting good grades because they don’t put the necessary effort into school work.

Some, on the other hand, will pursue assignment services.

While there is nothing wrong with getting help from assignment services, there are many motivation theories that can help improve your learning experience and cognitive abilities.

Teachers are in the best position to apply these theories. However, you can start your own project or even ask a tutor for help. 

So, What Motivation Theories Are The Most Useful For A College Student? 

1. Self Determination Theory Of Motivation 

This theory postulates that individuals have either internal or external causes of motivation.

The individual who is internally focused is driven by internal things while the individual who is externally focused is driven by external things.

Find out what drives you.

It’s not difficult to determine.

For example, if you are more motivated when you’re studying with a group of people rather than when you’re studying alone, you’re most likely externally driven.

On the other hand, if you prefer to study alone and get distracted when you’re part of a study group, you’re most likely internally driven.

If you’re externally driven, surround yourself with people who hold you accountable, encourage you and praise you when you’re doing well. 

2. The Drive Reduction Theory 

According to this theory, everyone has a need to satisfy others, and fulfilling this need helps reduce tension.

The drive you get as an individual comes from the internal stimuli that are produced by this need.

While our basic needs are driven by hunger, tiredness and other instinct-driven factors, secondary needs may include things like personal fulfillment or social identity.

When you try to fulfill your needs, you start forming habits subconsciously.

As a student, if your ultimate goal is to graduate with good grades to impress your parents, you will subconsciously develop habits that help bring you closer to this goal.

You need to find out what influenced your decision to go to college in the first place.

Was it to impress your significant other, your parents or grandparents?

Figure it out.

Each time you get good grades, tell that person you’re trying to impress about it.

If the individual is supportive and encourages you to do better, you’ll subconsciously start working harder on this account.

The drawback of this theory is that when the person or people you’re trying to impress don’t encourage you, you’ll end up with negative feelings.

3. Endowed Progress Effect Theory Of Motivation 

This is one of the most common motivation theories.

It postulates that making progress towards achieving your goals will motivate you to put in more effort.

To benefit from this pattern, you can design an instructional sequence for yourself.

It should be made up of a list of things you want to achieve within a semester preferably in steps.

This method is always more effective when you have a strong support system.

Just like with the drive reduction theory, being unable to reach your target can be discouraging.

To avoid being discouraged, you’re going to do everything within your power to make sure you achieve all your educational goals. 

4. The Cognitive Evaluation Theory

motivating theories

If you only like to do things that allow you to be in full control and make you feel competent, you’re most likely driven by cognitive evaluation.

You’ll find yourself ignoring challenging tasks whenever you feel you’re not competent enough to handle these tasks.

In this case, you’re driven by your perception of what you believe you can do and not by objective truth.

To take advantage of this, you need to learn to face challenging tasks no matter how difficult they may appear.

However, make sure that you are fully prepared before you take up a challenge. For example, if you want to change your major to something you find more challenging, make sure you study as much as you can about this new field before you dive in.

When you eventually switch and you see that you’re doing well, you will be driven to keep up the good work. Otherwise, you’ll be discouraged when you start without adequate preparation. 

5. Attribution Theory Of Motivation 

How do you feel when you fail?

Do you accept responsibility for your failure or do you blame it on external factors?

If you always blame your errors on external factors, self-improvement will be impossible. 

Rather than blaming external factors, you need to look inward. For example, you may be failing a class not because the instructor isn’t good enough but because your study habits are flawed.

Rather than blame the instructor or textbooks, consider digging in to find the real cause of the failure and solve the problem.

It is the only way to improve yourself.

By the time you address the real cause of the problem rather than blame external factors, you will create a cognitive dissonance that will impact your attitude toward learning.

When you see that you’re making progress, you’ll be more likely to look for errors on your part rather than always blaming external factors. 

6. The Goal-related Theory 

motivating goals

Setting goals for yourself is the best way to stay motivated.

When goals are imposed on you by your family or friends, you’ll lack the motivation to achieve them.

However, when you set goals by yourself, these goals will be clear, challenging, and achievable.

You’re a student and the ultimate goal is to graduate and start a career.

This is good but it is also what the society, family, and school want you to achieve.

You need to ask yourself what your personal goals are.

Do you want to graduate with a distinction?

Make a list of achievable goals that will help you reach your ultimate goal.

This way, you’ll stay motivated all the time. 

Bottom Line 

All these motivation theories are effective for improving your educational ambitions.

However, the most effective out of all of them is the goal-related theory of motivation.

This is because setting personal goals will make you study and succeed on your terms. It will not depend on how others see you or what others want you to do.

You’ll be internally driven all the time. 

Which of these motivation theories have you tried? How did they work for you? Share your stories with us in a comment below!

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