A motivated exploration of motivation terminology

P. Karen Murphy, Patricia A. Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

524 Scopus citations


The purpose of this review was twofold. First, we wanted to identify fundamental terms within the motivation literature associated with the study of academic achievement or academic development. Having identified these terms with the help of experts in the field of motivation, we wanted to document how motivation researchers defined and used these terms within their programs of research. To accomplish these purposes, over 120 achievement motivation articles were reviewed, and 68 met the criteria for inclusion. Various aspects of these studies, including definitions of terminology, framing variables (e.g., age/grade or domain/task), as well as patterns in language use were charted and analyzed. Based on these analyses, we derived several interpretations, extracted conceptual definitions, and overviewed specific conceptual issues relevant to emerging trends in motivation terminology. Finally, implications for future research and practice are forwarded.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-53
Number of pages51
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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