Exploring the motivation jungle: predicting performance on a novel task by investigating constructs from different motivation perspectives in tandem

Hanneke J C Van Nuland*, Elise Dusseldorp, Rob L Martens, Monique Boekaerts

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Different theoretical viewpoints on motivation make it hard to decide which model has the best potential to provide valid predictions on classroom performance. This study was designed to explore motivation constructs derived from different motivation perspectives that predict performance on a novel task best. Motivation constructs from self-determination theory, self-regulation theory, and achievement goal theory were investigated in tandem. Performance was measured by systematicity (i.e. how systematically students worked on a problem-solving task) and test score (i.e. score on a multiple-choice test). Hierarchical regression analyses on data from 259 secondary school students showed a quadratic relation between a performance avoidance orientation and both performance outcomes, indicating that extreme high and low performance avoidance resulted in the lowest performance. Furthermore, two three-way interaction effects were found. Intrinsic motivation seemed to play a key role in test score and systematicity performance, provided that effort regulation and metacognitive skills were both high. Results indicate that intrinsic motivation in itself is not enough to attain a good performance. Instead, a moderate score on performance avoidance, together with the ability to remain motivated and effectively regulate and control task behavior, is needed to attain a good performance. High time management skills also contributed to higher test score and systematicity performance and a low performance approach orientation contributed to higher systematicity performance. We concluded that self-regulatory skills should be trained in order to have intrinsically motivated students perform well on novel tasks in the classroom.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)250-259
    Number of pages10
    JournalInternational Journal of Psychology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2010


    • Achievement
    • Adolescent
    • Culture
    • Female
    • Goals
    • Habituation, Psychophysiologic
    • Humans
    • Internal-External Control
    • Male
    • Models, Psychological
    • Motivation
    • Problem Solving
    • Social Control, Informal
    • Students/psychology


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