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Making the Grade
A Self-Worth Perspective on Motivation and School Reform


  • Date Published: September 1992
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521348034

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About the Authors
  • Achievement behaviour in schools can best be understood in terms of attempts by students to maintain a positive self-image. For many students, trying hard is frightening because a combination of effort and failure implies low ability, which is often equated with worthlessness. Thus many students described as unmotivated are in actuality highly motivated - not to learn, but to avoid failure. Students have a variety of techniques for avoiding failure, ranging from cheating to setting low goals which are easily achieved. In Making the Grade, Martin Covington extracts powerful educational implications from self-worth theory and other contemporary views of motivation that will be useful for everyone concerned with the educational dilemmas we face. He provides a comprehensive, insightful review of research and theory, both contemporary and historical, on the topic of achievement motivation, and arranges this knowledge in ways that lead to imminently practical recommendations for restructuring schools.

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is a worthy book which revivifies one of the most tired topics in educational psychology. On its first page, Peter Drucker is quoted thus: 'We know nothing about motivation. All we do is write books about it.' On reaching its final page this has been totally contradicted: by reading this book you will know a good deal about motivation particularly as an antidote for learners in cynical modern educational contexts. With Covington motivation is always a fresh topic.' Tom Phillips, Vocational Aspect of Education

    'The book is very readable, insightful, and sensible. It offers a framework for curriculum planning, raises questions concerning what should be the goals of education, and suggests some meaningful ways schools can prepare students for the future.' Educational Researcher

    'An extensive and thoughtful conversation about achievement behaviour (motivation). It is a book that is hard to put down if one is seriously inquiring into the topic.' Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 1992
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521348034
    • length: 364 pages
    • dimensions: 239 x 156 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.53kg
    • contains: 11 b/w illus. 4 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Future and its Discontents: Prospects for building the future
    The failure to learn: A motivational analysis
    A moral tale
    Part II. Motives as Emotions: Need achievement
    The model: B = M x P x I
    Analysis and critique
    Further educational implications
    Part III. Motives as thoughts: Cognitions versus emotions
    Analysis and critique
    Educational implications
    Part IV. Self-Worth and the Fear of Failure: Self-worth theory of achievement motivation
    An arsenal of excuses
    Motivated cognitions and coping
    Part V. Achievement Anxiety: A brief history
    Reducing anxiety
    Part VI. The Competitive Learning Game: The structure of learning
    Scarcity of rewards
    Competition and minorities
    Part VII. Motivational Equity and the Will to Learn: The problem
    Global gambit
    Part VIII. Strategic Thinking and the Will to Learn: What is thinking?
    The evidence
    Strategic problems
    Problem discovery
    The transfer of knowledge
    Analysis and conclusions
    Part IX. An Immodest Proposal: Serious games
    Playing school
    Schools and jobs
    Prospects and conclusions
    Part X. Obstacles to Change: The myths of competition
    If not competition, then what?

  • Author

    Martin V. Covington, University of California, Berkeley

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