Social Constructivist approach of Learning Motivation

Motivation is the internal force that generates behaviors and actions in order to fulfill needs, desires, and achieve goals (Weiner, 1985). Motivation provides the answer to questions related to goals for learning or desired outcomes (“What do I want to achieve?“), and to questions related to purposes or reasons for engaging in a learning activity (“Why do I want/need to learn this?“).

A prominent factor of motivation consists in the strong connection between pedagogical goals and purposes for learning (Eccles et al. 1998). Goals are efficient when linked with learner’s needs and purposes, making learning more meaningful.

Motivation is therefore a central part of educational psychology, although lacking motivation is still nowadays one of the largest cause of education failure (Samuelson, 2010).

On the other hand, recent pedagogical approaches increasingly integrate collaborative methods to promote the construction of knowledge. This led to many research works and implementations of collaborative learning approach. Some studies also reflected the important role of motivation in collaborative learning and Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) environments (Rientes et al. 2009).

Based on social constructivist views of learning, CSCL environments emphasize the construction of knowledge through computer-mediated interactions with other actors of the learning process (Vygotsky, 1978). Social constructivism is the theory of people constantly learning, acquiring and building knowledge in social contexts, and adopting new behaviors, through observation and external interactions with others (family, schoolmates, peers).


So, yes, Indeed, motivation (like other psychological functions) has influence in the process of learning socially. That’s why children are familiar with their parents’ activities when they frequently play around them during working time. That’s also why we usually learn better from a teacher showing passion and enthusiasm towards what he/she is teaching, rather than someone showing little interest in teaching.

The principles of social constructivism consist of the construction of higher psychological functions, in addition to the construction of knowledge. And also because the influence of motivation has been demonstrated in collaborative environments, it shows that motivation should be included as input of the collaborative learning process, rather than a measure of learning outcomes.

In addition to including motivational functions as input, future CSCL implementations also need wider and multidimensional approaches to consider other parameters of the learning environment, such as the diversity of peers within the learning community.

In particular, Social Media and Social Networking Services (SNS) consist of an important resource of diverse and motivational information. They represent an essential and influential factor, including for learning. CSCL implementations need therefore to increase their social presence with the familiarity of SNS and their motivational contents as input of learning experiences.