The 21st century is famous for a fast advancement in science and technologies. Science is a part ofEuropean cultural heritage but “in recent times fewer young people seem to be interested in science andtechnical subjects. Why this?” (Osborne & Dillon, 2008). When searching for an answer to the questionwhat factors determine a positive approach to the studies of natural sciences, first at all, we have toanswer the question what motivation is.
In scholarly literature, motivation is considered from variousviewpoints. 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 thissense the study of motivation is the study of an action (Eccles, Wigfield, 2002).
“To be motivatedmeans to be moved to do something” (Rayan & Deci, 2000, p. 54). A person who feels no inspiration toact is, thus, characterised as unmotivated, whereas someone who is activated to the end is considered asmotivated. Motivation is a theoretical concept used to explain behaviour. Theories of humanmotivation have evolved from the emphasis on reactive responses to pressures (external reinforcementcontingencies or internally felt needs) to an emphasis on intrinsically motivated, self-determinedactions (Pardee, 1990). The concept of motivation is explained by different psychological theories.
A number ofmotivation theories and their classifications are offered in scholarly literature. Eccles and Wigfield(2002) distinguish four groups of motivation theories: theories focusing on expectancy (self-efficacytheory and control theory), theories focusing on reasons (theories focused on intrinsic motivation, self-determination, flow, and goals), theories integrating expectancy and value constructs (attributiontheory, the expectancy-value and self-worth theory), as well as theories integrating motivation andcognition (social cognitive theories of self-regulation and motivation, theories of motivation andvolition). The first focuses on beliefs about competency and expectancy for success. The second groupof motivation theories deals with the reasons why individuals engage in different activities. Thesetheories include constructs such as achievement values, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, interests, andgoals. The third group of theories integrate value constructs and expectancy.
The fourth group explainsthe 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 ofindividual 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 tomotivation is the socio-cognitive view based on expectancy-value theory of motivation. This approachemphasises cognitive structures such as decision making and beliefs that occur in the presence ofcertain 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 ofmotivation.