Examining motivation in online distance learning environments: Complex, multifaceted and situation-dependent

  • Maggie Hartnett Massey University
  • Alison St. George Massey University
  • Jon Dron Athabasca University
Keywords: motivation, self-determination theory, online learning, distance education, e-learning, intrinsic, extrinsic

Abstract

Existing research into motivation in online environments has tended to use one of two approaches. The first adopts a trait-like model that views motivation as a relatively stable, personal characteristic of the learner. Research from this perspective has contributed to the notion that online learners are, on the whole, intrinsically motivated. The alternative view concentrates on the design of online learning environments to encourage optimal learner motivation. Neither approach acknowledges a contemporary view of motivation that emphasises the situated, mutually constitutive relationship of the learner and the learning environment. Using self-determination theory (SDT) as a framework, this paper explores the motivation to learn of preservice teachers in two online distance-learning contexts. In this study, learners were found to be not primarily intrinsically motivated. Instead, student motivation was found to be complex, multifaceted, and sensitive to situational conditions.

Author Biographies

Maggie Hartnett, Massey University

School of Curriculum & Pedagogy College of Education, Lecturer

Correspondence concerning this paper should be addressed to Maggie Hartnett, School of Curriculum & Pedagogy, Massey University, Private Bag 11 222, Palmerston North, 4442, New Zealand. Email: m.hartnett@massey.ac.nz, Phone: (646) 356-9099, Fax: (646) 356-3472.

Alison St. George, Massey University
School of Curriculum & Pedagogy College of Education, Senior Lecturer
Jon Dron, Athabasca University
School of Computing and Information Systems, Associate Professor
Published
2011-10-07
How to Cite
Hartnett, M., St. George, A., & Dron, J. (2011). Examining motivation in online distance learning environments: Complex, multifaceted and situation-dependent. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 12(6), 20-38. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v12i6.1030
Section
Research Articles