Strategies for Assessing and Enhancing Motivation: Keys to Promoting Self-Regulated Learning and Performance
Barbara L. McCombs
Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory Aurora, Colorado
We learned in other chapters that research on motivation within the Armed Forces is directed at two primary goals: (a) to motivate soldiers (as both individuals and teams) to learn and do their jobs well; and (b) to contribute to selection, classification, and retention decisions ( Drillings, 1991; Drillings & O'Neil, this volume). In this context, what we know from basic and applied research on human motivation is used to enhance both individual and group or team performance as well as generally contribute to organizational effectiveness and creative leadership. Particularly important in military training systems are individual and unit job proficiency and job readiness to carry out national security missions when called upon -- in times of peace or war (Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, 1992; O'Neil, Anderson, & Freeman, 1986). A major motivational issue for the military is essentially one of maintaining a proficient force of soldiers who are satisfied and happy with their jobs and who reenlist.
In this chapter, recent research on strategies for enhancing and assessing motivation is discussed, with a focus on the relationship of these strategies to the promotion of self-regulated learning and performance. While other chapters have dealt with particular aspects of motivation (e.g., goals, expectations, intentions, commitment) important to individual and unit performance, my purpose is to integrate these components of motivation within the larger context of the nature of human psychological functioning. In this context, motivation is fundamentally a function of the degree to which individuals are aware of themselves as agents in the construction of their thoughts, beliefs, goals, expectations, attributions, or any other thought systems. By looking at where the content of thought originates -- in the knower or person as agent -- thought becomes the common denominator for understanding human functioning and motivation. How aware