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Should Economists Listen to Educational Psychologists? : Some Economics of Student Motivation


  • Donze, Jocelyn
  • Gunnes, Trude


This paper sheds light on the role of student motivation in the success of schooling. We develop a model in which a teacher engages in the management of student motivation through the choice of the classroom environment. We show that the teacher is able to motivate high-ability students, at least in the short run, by designing a competitive environment. For students with low ability, risk aversion, or when engaged in a long-term relationship, the teacher designs a classroom environment that is more focused on mastery and self-referenced standards. In doing so, the teacher helps to develop the intrinsic motivation of students and their capacity to overcome failures.

Suggested Citation

  • Donze, Jocelyn & Gunnes, Trude, 2011. "Should Economists Listen to Educational Psychologists? : Some Economics of Student Motivation," MPRA Paper 31059, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:31059

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. De Fraja, Gianni & Landeras, Pedro, 2006. "Could do better: The effectiveness of incentives and competition in schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 189-213, January.
    2. Bruno Jullien & Bernard Salanié & François Salanié, 1999. "Should More Risk-Averse Agents Exert More Effort?," The Geneva Risk and Insurance Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Association for the Study of Insurance Economics (The Geneva Association), vol. 24(1), pages 19-28, June.
    3. Correa, Hector & Gruver, Gene W., 1987. "Teacher-student interaction: A game theoretic extension of the economic theory of education," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 19-47, February.
    4. Betts, Julian R, 1998. "The Impact of Educational Standards on the Level and Distribution of Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 266-275, March.
    5. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2002. "Identity and Schooling: Some Lessons for the Economics of Education," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1167-1201, December.
    6. Dionne, Georges & Eeckhoudt, Louis, 1985. "Self-insurance, self-protection and increased risk aversion," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 39-42.
    7. Costrell, Robert M, 1994. "A Simple Model of Educational Standards," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 956-971, September.
    8. Kreps, David M, 1997. "Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Incentives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 359-364, May.
    9. Bonesronning, Hans, 2004. "Can effective teacher behavior be identified?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 237-247, June.
    10. Derek Neal & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2010. "Left Behind by Design: Proficiency Counts and Test-Based Accountability," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 263-283, May.
    11. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520.
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    More about this item


    Education; Student Achievement; Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation; Effort; Goal Theory.;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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