Motivation and prior Knowledge Running head: Motivation and prior knowledge

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Running head: Motivation and prior knowledge

How Motivation and Prior Knowledge can Affect Students’ Learning

Ali Alawami

ED 633

Western Oregon University


I think we have to know how to assess students’ previous knowledge first. In that way, we will know if the students really have previous knowledge or not because it could be that students have never heard about a specific thing. Previous knowledge is not always positive. It is not always something that we can rely on it and build on it. Some students may have bad feeling about a specific course or topic which may affect their learning. Another way of gaining negative previous knowledge is listening to others’ negative experience. By knowing their previous knowledge, we will be able to determine whether to build on it or try to change it. If students have positive previous knowledge, we, as teachers, have to do our best to connect between their prior knowledge and the new information that we want to introduce them to. Therefore, learning will be more interesting and logical. 

One form of prior knowledge is motivation. In my short teaching experience, I came through many obstacles that made me think more about students and how to help them learn. One of the major problems that I have seen in almost all students that I had taught is lack of motivation. Students had no motivation for learning. Some of them were coming to school only because their parents were forced them. If they had the choice, I am sure they would choose not to go to school. I spoke with some of my colleagues about that and they were saying the same things, “Students have no motivation.” They did not try to solve it. I talked with my students trying to understand the problem and I always heard the same causes from all of them. They were saying, “Why should we study? We will not be able to go to college and then we will not get a job.” These were like stumbling blocks. I spent many classes trying to make my students change their minds and see thing from different way.  From that time I was thinking about prior knowledge especially when it is negative and how it can affect students’ learning. 

In the beginning, I was only thinking about prior knowledge as the knowledge that students have about subjects that they studied in school, or relative knowledge they had studied before. And I was only concerned about how teachers can make a connection between the prior knowledge and new information they want to present. Thinking deeply about the inquiry led me to many different questions that I would like to answer. My goal from this literature review is to explain the types of motivation and how prior knowledge can affect students learning. How can we use an understanding of prior knowledge to facilitate students who are not motivated or have bad experience about specific topic?

The focus of my literature review is “How prior knowledge and motivation can affect students’ learning?”  Every student has prior knowledge, even first grade students. In the beginning, I would like to define the prior knowledge. Prior knowledge is the experience, information, beliefs, or motivations that someone has about something.  Specifically, this literature review further defines intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and explores how each type of motivation affects learning.

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