Motivation in education and the impact of video games

Motivation is essential to carry out many of our activities, including study.

Motivation is essential to carry out many of our activities, including study.

Motivation is often a fundamental part of a human being’s day-to-day life. Without it many of the activities would not be carried out and, therefore, the achievement of goals and objectives would not be possible. This is why motivation in education is also essential, because if there is no interest in learning, information would simply not be processed and there would be no point in trying to learn something new.


To begin with, motivation in education can be defined as “the positive disposition to learn and to continue to learn in an autonomous way”, i.e. people must have enough conviction to be able to learn something new, even if it is native (Sánchez Aparicio 2014, citado en Naranjo, 2009, p.153).


Two variables are derived from motivation, one is intrinsic motivation and the second is extrinsic motivation (Sánchez Aparicio, 2014). The first type of motivation refers to the enjoyment, satisfaction or interest in carrying out a certain activity. One of the serious mistakes that has been made in education is to consider that students’ interest in certain content or subjects is not so important, since the effort they make to understand and learn is more important, however, if the information presented is somewhat tedious or heavy, that disposition is completely lost by the lesson (Sanfeliciano, A., 2018).


On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is characterized by being external, that is, the achievement of the activities will usually have a reward or some kind of positive estimate.


Motivation can be “found” in the least expected place


According to the basic principles of General Didactics, (“THE DIDACTIC PRINCIPLES – General Didactics I: Innovating the Art of Teaching”, 2020) educators should follow a series of guidelines in order to provide better teaching to their students, for example, they should consider:


  • Individualization: Each student is different, therefore, the same teaching standards should not be applied to all.
  • Socialization: Education is always going to be pro-community.
  • Autonomy: Each person is capable of making his or her own decisions.
  • Activity: These should be oriented to the Annual School Plan.
  • Creativity: To help and encourage the student to have the capacity for resilience in a constantly changing world.


The Journal of Education Alteridad by the Salesian Polytechnic University of Ecuador, in its article Motivation and learning, refers to the motivations generated in learning.


The first is interest in the subject of work. As the name implies, a student’s interest in the topic will greatly facilitate the retention of information.


The second is cooperative work. It occurs when a group of students decide to get together in order to work and carry out their activities and academic tasks. This generates a high degree of commitment and responsibility with respect to their learning. Therefore, if one member of the group is successful, the others will be as well.


The third point is the feeling of competition. The fact that a learner feels competent and has the ability to learn makes him want to try harder and achieve his goals.


A personal project is one of the determining factors in a student’s motivation. The fact that they feel that they are doing something that they want and that is convenient for them, usually promotes maturity and the facility to carry out school activities.


Feeling the help of the teacher will always be an essential aspect of student-teacher relationships. For if the teacher is perceived to be willing to promote projects, to be interested in the subject or to continue the success of his or her learners, motivation for learning will increase.


The last point, feeling the help of one’s peers, also plays an important role and is accompanied by the supervision of the educator. As there are common interests and commitment on the part of their peers to the acquisition and improvement of knowledge acquired in class, they promote the constant exchange of information and the feeling of being able to teach others as well (Carrillo, Padilla, Rosero & Villagómez, 2009).


Video games, an engine for motivation


Recent research has shown that video games can be very helpful in increasing student motivation. For example, a study of middle school students concluded that video games with collaborative and competitive modes of interaction generate more interest and motivation in subjects that may be less interesting, such as mathematics, than if played individually. With this, they found two of the main motivational orientations, one the master’s goal, which achieved that students could have a better concentration in relation to learning and the way in which the activity was developed; the performance goals gave rise to competitiveness because they wanted to be within the top or ranking of the game (Sánchez Aparicio 2014, citado en Plass, et al., 2013).

Today’s young people are familiar with these kinds of graphics – talking about video games – and developing new strategies for problem solving is much more attractive and interesting than a traditional class. Integrating these kinds of innovative solutions into new methodologies can be a real challenge. In addition, schools should also be considered to have the necessary infrastructure to be able to integrate these digital contents.

Currently, there is a huge digital divide in relation to teachers and students, since it is the students who make constant use of these new technologies, for example, with the way they receive information, including how they interact and relate to one another (Sánchez Aparicio 2014, citado en Prensky, 2001).


In order for video games to be considered an essential part of students’ learning, first, the teacher would have to find the right game for the class, one that addresses the teaching objectives; second, avoid games that contain open environments or freedom of certain actions, as the focus could be lost completely. The teacher should therefore mention the goals and tasks to be achieved (Sánchez Aparicio, 2014).


In conclusion, it is important to consider what the motivations of each of the students are, since being people with different personalities, interests change. Video games can be a great tool to enhance the development of skills and attitudes towards a subject. Likewise, they can be the perfect complement to improve learning and make the class more dynamic and interesting, which will be a new challenge for the young people of the future.



Carrillo, M., Padilla, J., Rosero, T., & Villagómez, M. (2009). La Motivación y el Aprendizaje. Alteridad Revista. Revista De Educación, (4). Retrieved from


Sanfeliciano, A., 2018. La Motivación En La Educación. [online] La Mente es Maravillosa. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 March 2020].


LOS PRINCIPIOS DIDÁCTICOS – Didáctica General I: Innovando El Arte De Enseñar. Retrieved 21 March 2020, from

Sánchez Aparicio, J. (2014). Videojuegos y Gamificación para Motivar en la Educación [Ebook]. Retrieved from