The purpose of this course (L&I 732) is to introduce you the research on motivation. The course specifically explores research into intrinsic motivation but recognizes that both extrinsic (carrots & sticks) and intrinsic (enjoyment of the activity itself) are important in helping students increase their motivation to learn.

You will learn about the basics of reading educational research: both making sense of it and finding implications for real-world educational practice. Towards that end you will read a lot of original research. But you'll be given a helping hand through a few research aloud presentations that take you through the details of one reading in a module.

As a final project you will specialize in one self-defined area of motivational research.


A link to the course syllabus will be posted here between August 10 and August 30. The syllabus will also be required reading for Module 2 so you will also see the syllabus posted on that module's page in the preparation materials.

Why the Slurping?

The banner at the top of the page shows a young woman slurping while eating noodles. The image comes from a postcard created for the noodle bar named Wagamama. Many of us have had the experience of loving eating a favorite dish so much that we quite happily slurp! It is a kind of intrinsic motivation.

Most Wagamama locations are in England. The best location to visit, due to the interior architectural design plus the food, is the location at: 101a Wigmore Street in London. This is 2 blocks behind the big Selfridges and Marks & Spencer stores on Oxford Street near Marble Arch.

The Learning Modules

Except for the first module, all the others start the day after the previous one ends: i.e. on a Sunday after the Saturday class. Generally speaking this gives you 10 days to complete using the learning materials for the next module. The class meeting on a Saturday will challenge you understanding of the new material with a series of online activities, plus a reflection from the instruction.

  • Aug 15: Embrace the New. Slack, iThoughts, website and more. Plus some fun exercise challenges. This module opens August 11, but all work can be completed on Aug 15 (if you want).
  • Aug 29: Flow Theory. A key theory the helps explain under what conditions people experience more-than-happiness: flow.
  • Sep 12: Attribution Theory. This classic theory explains student behavior based on their self-explanation of why they failed at a test.
  • Sep 26: Goal Theory. Another classic theory that looks at goal structures and how they influence student behavior.
  • Oct 10: Interest Theory. An evolving theory that looks at how to catch, and hold, student interest.
  • Oct 24: Self-Determination. Probably the most prevalent theory in research today: it helps explains various levels of student motivation in a detailed manner.
  • Nov 7: SDT Deep Dive. We dive into the self-determination research at a deeper level.
  • Nov 21: Interest Deep Dive. We explore one classic research study that used a variety of research tools.
  • Dec 5: Future Time Perspective. Why don't people save for retirement? This is only one question future time perspective helps to explain.

Keeping Up with the News

News Categories

Each news post belongs to a "category". As the semester progresses the links below provide easy ways to access all the posts just about you research project, or about new research, and so on by simply clicking on the relevant category.

Research Tools

You will be introduced to a lot of research tools in this course. But this area provides you with a reminder, plus easy access, to some of the tools you will use the most.


This is the primary database you will use when search for research into specific areas of motivation. It's a great database and you want to learn to use it well! Check it out: PsycINFO link


ERIC stands for: Educational Resources Information Center. It will contain most of the same articles as PsycINFO. However, ERIC sometimes finds additional articles not in the other database. Best to check both databases! Use this: ERIC link


The librarians at USF are fantastic! You can access their wisdom in a number of ways. One way to do this is to visit: Ask a Librarian. A second way is to directly contact the reference librarian who works with the School of Education: Amy Gilgan

Technology Tools

Since the course is online we will naturally be using a number of technology tools. The good/great news: no Zoom, no Zoom, no Zoom (unless we meet for office hours).

slack icon

This website contains almost all the learning materials you will use for this course. That includes readings (all are PDFs), presentations (both video and audio), exercises and activities, ways to upload your work, news, and more. It is essential that you learn how to use this website efficiently. Fortunately the first module helps you understand the "logic" of this site, how it works, and even gives you some initial practice activities. All of your readings will be free.

ithoughts icon

iThoughts is a specific mind mapping app. I use it in this course because: (1) it's very good, (2) it runs on Windows and Macs, (3) it is affordable, and (4) it has important power features that many mind mapping alternatives do not use. The cost is $25: a great deal since there are no other costs associated with this course. You will mainly use iThoughts to present your understanding of various motivational theories. Plus you'll use it to complete some key in-class activities.

slack icon

I am using Slack for the first time in this course with students. I've used it for years as a beta-tester for a few software products. Slack is, essentially, a sharing community software app that works on Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS. You can share your thinking (i.e. words), audio, video, images, PDFs and more. We will mainly use Slack for in-class activities.

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