The 21st century is famous for a fast advancement in science and technologies. Science is a part of
European cultural heritage but “in recent times fewer young people seem to be interested in science and
technical subjects. Why this?” (Osborne & Dillon, 2008). When searching for an answer to the question
what factors determine a positive approach to the studies of natural sciences, first at all, we have to
answer the question what motivation is. In scholarly literature, motivation is considered from various
viewpoints. Therefore, the conceptualisation of motivation is a big challenge.

What does it mean to be motivated? The Latin root of the word motivation means to move. In this
sense the study of motivation is the study of an action (Eccles, Wigfield, 2002). “To be motivated
means to be moved to do something” (Rayan & Deci, 2000, p. 54). A person who feels no inspiration to
act is, thus, characterised as unmotivated, whereas someone who is activated to the end is considered as
motivated. Motivation is a theoretical concept used to explain behaviour. Theories of human
motivation have evolved from the emphasis on reactive responses to pressures (external reinforcement
contingencies or internally felt needs) to an emphasis on intrinsically motivated, self-determined
actions (Pardee, 1990).

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The concept of motivation is explained by different psychological theories. A number of
motivation theories and their classifications are offered in scholarly literature. Eccles and Wigfield
(2002) distinguish four groups of motivation theories: theories focusing on expectancy (self-efficacy
theory and control theory), theories focusing on reasons (theories focused on intrinsic motivation, self-
determination, flow, and goals), theories integrating expectancy and value constructs (attribution
theory, the expectancy-value and self-worth theory), as well as theories integrating motivation and
cognition (social cognitive theories of self-regulation and motivation, theories of motivation and
volition). The first focuses on beliefs about competency and expectancy for success. The second group
of motivation theories deals with the reasons why individuals engage in different activities. These
theories include constructs such as achievement values, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, interests, and
goals. The third group of theories integrate value constructs and expectancy. The fourth group explains
the links between motivational and cognitive processes (Eccles, Wigfield, 2002).
Motivation refers to the process of goal-directed activities of a generation (Schunk, Pintrich, & Meece,
2008). Goal-directed activities can have different reasons. One reason is to act from the perspective of
individual actualisation of one’s innate capacities for development. Self-Determination Theory (SDT)
is an example of this approach (Deci & Ryan, 1985, 2008; Ryan & Deci, 2002). Another approach to
motivation is the socio-cognitive view based on expectancy-value theory of motivation. This approach
emphasises cognitive structures such as decision making and beliefs that occur in the presence of
certain socio-contextual factors (Pintrich, 2003). The current monograph focuses on both perspectives:
individual actualisation of one’s innate capacities for development and the socio-cognitive view of
motivation.