Maslow and Student Motivation

There is no such thing as an unmotivated student. All students are motivated by something in school. The problem is that they might not be motivated by the things you’d like them to be motivated by. –Unknown

I’ve been thinking a lot about Maslow and his hierarchy lately. In fact, I have been thinking about it a lot for years. To me, there is little else that helps to explain why humans do what they do better than this chart.  My previous posts have adapted the basic hierarchy in order to reflect how teachers and students approach technology integration. I have taken some liberty to adapt the progression, particularly at the base level, but I think it takes a good guess at where people are in that regard. I have had in the back of my mind for years an adaptation for student motivation in school:


Both of the previous adaptations are variations on this concept, the one you see above. I learned a long time ago that if a student’s motivations in school are about avoiding unpleasantness or getting by, it created far different challenges than for a student whose motivation is to be liked. The cognitive ability was rarely the deciding factor. I think it wise to consider these when working with students. Understanding these motivations are important to finding ways to help students learn.


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