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Motivation to Learn: Transforming Classroom Culture to Support Student AchievementMichael Middleton and Kevin Perks Corwin: A Sage Company, 2014, 229 pp., $27.77 (AU), ISBN: 9781412986717

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 September 2014

Erik M. Ward
MS, North Carolina State University PhD Student in STEM Education, Raleigh, United States
DeLeon L. Gray
PhD, North Carolina State University Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology, Raleigh, United States


Book Review
Copyright © Australian Psychological Society Ltd 2014 

Motivation to Learn: Transforming Classroom Culture to Support Student Achievement is a resource aimed at aiding educators with the skills to motivate their students. Middleton and Perks are clear that their target audience is practising educators, but this group is not the only demographic that may find utility in this book. This book has a place on the desks of teacher educators, educational and developmental psychologists, as well as students seeking further advancement.

Motivation to Learn provides a set of guiding questions and considerations that will serve as proverbial ‘guardrails’ for those working in schools seeking to translate motivation principles into effective strategies. Motivation to Learn also contributes to two related, yet distinct, discourses taking place within teacher education programs today. The book can be used as a window for familiarising those working in educational settings with the topic of achievement motivation. For example, instructors in undergraduate programs may utilise this book in ‘futuring’ exercises in which students envision how they will put motivation principles into motion. Additionally, because educational psychologists within teacher education programs have been charged with the task of outlining the relevance of their work (Patrick, Anderman, Breuning, & Duffin, Reference Patrick, Anderman, Bruening and Duffin2011), this book helps communicate the value of educational and developmental psychology in the daily lives of teachers.

Just as it can assist students in understanding how to put theory into practice, Motivation to Learn provides a blueprint for educational psychologists seeking a way to organise and package their work for non-academic audiences. The reflection tools presented may also find utilisation in empirical examinations of application-focused investigations of motivation principles in practice. In partnership with practising teachers, applied researchers and practitioners may be able to fine tune the exercises presented in this book after putting them through further empirical scrutiny.

Whereas many audiences may find uses for Motivation to Learn, there are caveats. The motivation concepts introduced by the authors are not always paired with examples from a specific domain (e.g., Social Studies or English/Language Arts). Because clear connections to different content areas are not always made, the book relies on the reader being willing to commit to deep, honest reflection regarding her or his teaching practices. The structure of this book also creates challenges. A detailed discussion of social and cultural processes, and their importance to achievement motivation, is left until the final section. Earlier discussion is not devoid of these concepts, but the concepts are not readily apparent until a second reading. These topics could be more strongly emphasised and integrated throughout the book. There is also little space devoted to gender and developmental issues within motivation. Despite these caveats, Motivation to Learn serves as a ‘sweet spot’ between psychological science and classroom practice.


Patrick, H., Anderman, L.H., Bruening, P.S., & Duffin, L.C. (2011). The role of educational psychology in teacher education: Three challenges for educational psychologists. Educational Psychologist, 46 (2), 7183. doi:10.1080/00461520.2011.538648Google Scholar