Motivation from an ecological psychology perspective: Motivational patterns in hypermedia reading comprehension

Date of Completion

January 2000


Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Reading|Education, Technology of




This study examined motivation from an ecological psychology perspective, taking the position that motivation could be described as an agent-environment interaction emerging from an intentionally driven agent in perceiving-acting cycles within an information-rich ecosystem. Two research questions were addressed: (1) Is the reported level of motivation influenced by the coupling of a clear goal with an environment that affords continuous progress toward the goal? (2) Do the reported motivation levels relate to problem-solving performance? ^ Motivation was operationally defined as a self-reported response to each screen measured by a pedal connected to the HyperCard™ stacks that a participant used to adjust the “level of motivation” scale on a continuous basis. A dribble file was used to record participant navigation patterns. The number of correct answers on seven questions measured problem-solving achievement. ^ A randomized multiple-baseline design (ABAB) across individuals was used to answer the research questions. The HyperCard™ stacks with six sections provided the learning context that systematically varied the amount of relevant (coupled information affording progress) and irrelevant information (coupled information not affording progress) that a learner received when trying to solve a problem. The six sections were randomly placed in six randomly selected (ABAB) sequences, and six participants were randomly assigned to complete one of the six-section sequences. ^ To answer question 1, motivation responses were plotted with the Y-axis defined as motivation and the X-axis as card number. Forty-three t-tests were conducted on the reported motivation between relevant and irrelevant conditions. A mean directional analysis was used to compare the average motivation with the baseline motivation in each learning condition. The answers to the first two questions in the final interviews were also summarized. The motivational analyses supported the conclusion that motivation could be described as a coupling of an instructional designed goal with the affordances in the environment. ^ A correlation analysis was employed to answer question 2. There was no relationship between the average motivation in relevant learning conditions and the score of problem-solving performance. ^ Treatment fidelity determined by six t-tests, a chi-square analysis, and answers from final interviews indicated a valid experimental design. ^