Abraham Maslow Theory And Students Motivation

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Motivation
  3. Identifying students’ motivational factors
  4. Motivational Strategies
  5. Conclusion


Hassan and Bhat (2012) noted the main reason for education is to lay a solid foundation for personal development and to enhance learning in a self-directed manner. Students motivation is essential for quality education. When students are motivated, they are happy to learn and engage in academic activities which could lead to success. Students can be motivated by their teachers, peers, content of a lecture, process of learning, environment etc. and demotivated by lack of funds, interest, unfulfilled psychological needs, fear, or bad perception of the study. Many theories have been postulated to describe motivation and due to the complexity of each person, one or more theories are combined for effective results. This paper will focus on identifying and enhancing student’s motivation in a large university and as the new management consultant, I will provide suggestions using Abraham Maslow's theory to help improve student learning engagement to reach their goals of completing their degree.


Motivation is the primary reason behind a behavior or an action. Hassan and Bhat (2012) explained motivation as the psychological forces such as a need or desire that incentive an individual to act. Needs theories define two intrinsic and extrinsic factors that motivate an individual's behavior and believe that people are motivated by unfulfilled needs (Taylor, 2014). Intrinsic motivation deals with an inspiration that comes inwardly, for example, when a student finds a fascinating topic, the motivation to learn more about it comes naturally, while extrinsic motivation is an inspiration that comes from a physical reward to stimulate a behavioral response (Gordan & Krishanan, 2014). The classic extrinsic motivator in schools is the qualification. As the new management consultant, I will first interact with students to identify the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that stimulate them before providing suggestions. Gordan and Krishanan (2014) noted that it is vital to understand the psychological need processes of motivation, as they affect occupational self-efficacy, intrinsic motivation, and signify inborn needs for the growth of a sense of autonomy, relatedness, and competence. This will ensure the right strategies are constructed to achieve the desired goal. Hassan and Bhat (2012) listed 8 keys for motivating students, which are: enthusiasm of the teacher, organization of the project, level of difficulty of the material, importance of material, active participation of student, variety of teaching technologies, a connection between teacher and students and the use of proper examples.

Although many researches have been postulated, I find Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory suitable to analyse this situation in a much broader context. Abraham Maslow's theory is based on two concepts. Progression principle that suggests lower-level needs must be met before higher-level needs, and deficit principle which suggests that once a need is satisfied it is no longer a motivator since an individual will take action only to satisfy unmet needs (Taylor, 2014). If a student is thirsty or hungry, and the environment is mentally, physically, or emotionally unsafe, it becomes more difficult to focus on learning. Maslow further explains that motivation is the outcome of an individual’s attempt at fulfilling five basic needs: physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization. According to Maslow, these needs can create pressures that can influence an individual's behavior (Taylor, 2014).

Identifying students’ motivational factors

Before implementing Maslow Strategy, I will interact with the students to identify, their inherent individual social factors, goals, perceptions, focus, conscientiousness, speaking competence, concentration levels, grades, and decipher the cause for demotivation to act accordingly (Hassan & Bhat, 2012). Students who are lagging will be evaluated separately for effective measurement to allow categorizing of the student's capabilities for a more successful implementation of motivational strategies (Gordan & Krishanan, 2014). To achieve this, I will implement the REACH model which influences students’ will to succeed and reach their maximum abilities in school and other life activities (Search Institute, 2019).

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REACH framework describes five factors: relationships, effort, aspiration, cognition, and heart (Search Institute, 2019). This model emphasis improvement of relationships and connection between young people and their peers, educators, parents, and others that can support, empower, and expand their knowledge (Search Institute, 2019). It promotes students’ understanding that effective effort and hard work supported by good learning strategies, can achieve success, irrespective of others’ views of them. Also, to inspire students to be grounded in the reality that their actions or inactions can influence their abilities of future dream realizations to aspire to great heights. Further in this model, students learn practical ways to approach their thinking, impulse, and focus on achieving their goals, which is referred to as cognition. The last factor is the hearts and minds of students to learn and grow their passion and improve on their core values for lifelong careers (Search Institute, 2019). Using the REACH model, with the cooperation of parents, professors, and other stakeholders will help me as a consultant to close all gaps between students, which helps improve students’ character mindset and learning process.

Motivational Strategies

Maslow's strategy emphasizes five basic needs: physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization needs that influence human behaviors (Taylor, 2014). The following motivational strategies are suggested:

  • Physiological and educational needs encourage student participation in the educational process and evaluate the information and skills they receive during classes and lectures. Psychological forces like desires and emotions can influence human behaviors (Taylor, 2014). Low-cost, discounted, or free lunches and clothing can be provided for students in need and emotional support. This will influence their basic need and motivate them towards learning to achieve their goals.
  • Safety: Review teaching methods and use creativity to introduce changes to strengthen the classes so students can feel safe to encourage their social affiliation with less pressure. Shy and slow learning students can be more confident and open to professors who can meet their needs, identify their skills, and advance their ability to work in a team. Also, the structure of the course curriculum should be clearly explained and related to everyday student life.
  • Social: Giving students responsibilities and the opportunity to volunteer and participate in classroom jobs like updating the classroom calendar, being the class spokesperson, participate in the university's events, games, group work, and team exercises will make learning fun, boost free interaction and give them a sense of belonging (Condron, n.d.).
  • Esteem: Based on Maslow's beliefs individuals need to promote their self-esteem hence, simple praise like “well done” would encourage student contribution and value (Taylor, 2014). Teachers can praise students’ excellence by recognizing their work in the classroom, giving them positive feedback and rewards for achievements to help students reach further levels in Maslow's hierarchy (Condron, n.d.).
  • Self-actualization: The teachers can encourage the students to be goal-oriented by setting realistic goals that are measured periodically, lending service opportunities, and cultural experiences with the curriculum for students to earn extra credit or give other options like quizzes will inspire students. Also, giving rewards to students inside and outside the classroom who achieved their short- and long-term goals will motivate them to perform exceptionally (Condron, n.d.). Having self-evaluation and peer evaluation forms will also motivate students and boost their confidence (Gordan & Krishanan, 2014). To further enhance learning, factors and practices related to a variety of reasons such as culture, social, attitudinal, historical, vague instructions, insufficient explanations, bad behaviors, stereotyping, discriminations, criticism, pressure, teaching materials, etc. should be avoided in the university (Hassan & Bhat, 2012).


Motivation is an important aspect of self-effectiveness and high productivity for the achievement of organizational goals. Setting clear and realistic goals, improve professor-student interaction, making the learning process fun, rewarding deserving students, and delegating responsibilities randomly to students can help motivate students at this reputable university. Each motivation theory has much to contribute to enriching our understanding of motivation, though none of them is most appropriate under all circumstances. It is important to use the best approach to each unique situation to boost performance (Gordan & Krishanan, 2014). The situation is analogous to building a house, where sometimes a hammer is a most effective tool, sometimes a screwdriver, and at other times a saw. The manager is like a house builder who selects different tools as different problems emerge. However, the theories and principles are the means to achieve an end (e.g. motivating employees for better output) and not an end in themselves.

The past eight weeks have been fantastic and thought-provoking, my mindset has been greatly improved by new knowledge, practical skills, techniques, and applications learned from the course reading, discussions, and written assignments. I have developed solid analytical, technological, and collaboration skills that can evaluate the economic, social, and environmental implications of functions and operations ethically. My gratitude to you Dr. Kandice Smith for all your comments, feedback, and discussions for me and my classmates. I truly appreciate you and the time you spent with us during this course. Thank you very much for the course.

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