What is it about?

The goal of our study was to find out what factors are most important for students' motivation from kindergarten to the end of secondary school. A lot of empirical research has been conducted on this topic, which has been summarized within meta-analyses. We combined the results of these meta-analyses to get a broad overview of the research, and compared the importance of different aspects for students’ school motivation. This allowed us to integrate data from over 25 million students. We considered aspects of learning that focus on the students, for example, how well students do in school, how they view their own accomplishments, and their background variables. Our findings show that students’ achievement is most strongly related to their academic motivation. This means that if students can learn successfully, they will be more motivated in the process. Also, we find that students who are confident in their abilities are more motivated, suggesting that teachers can help students to be motivated by helping them learning and providing positive feedback. We also considered aspects of instruction, focusing on the role of teachers. Our results suggest that for students to be motivated in school, the teacher-student relationship is highly important: students who have positive relationships with their teachers will be more motivated.

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Why is it important?

Our findings highlight the role of teachers, who can help students feel motivated by providing good learning opportunities, and building positive relationships in the classroom. Policymakers and school leaders should invest in improving the skills of their teachers, especially to increase the quality of teaching and their relationship with students.


My task in the study was to read all the literature and extract the relevant information. Because there is a lot of research, it took me over five years to explore this research area and I often got lost in the process. With the help of my co-authors, we were able to create a map of the area, label the tracks, and show the most promising ways to understand and (possibly) promote motivation. Now it is easier to access the knowledge in the literature and identify what we should investigate next.

Thorben Jansen
IPN - Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Which student and instructional variables are most strongly related to academic motivation in K-12 education? A systematic review of meta-analyses., Psychological Bulletin, January 2022, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/bul0000354.
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