Critique of Motivation Written by Wang

Juan Barrio
University of Houston

As the title suggests, this is a general overview of theories about motivation. It is a thorough review on the most relevant frameworks about understanding and explaining motivation. The author citations suggest an immense rigor in the writing process and in the elaboration of this text, with sound logic structure. The form in which has been written is faultless and it would be a very good text for an introductory class within an educational setting.

I found, however, a lack of intensity in moving the topic to new frontiers, more in accordance to the type of scientific production required by our time. Ascetic writings, stripped of opinion, judgments and values simply reproduce ideology without attempting to analyze in more profundity the implications of propositions. It seems a well piece of text written at the technical level, meaning that it states what it is stated elsewhere. It is research, of course, and one can argue that research is knowledge acquired through a rigorous methodology, using science based frameworks and reviewed by scientists. Therefore, science is knowledge at its best, the article seems to implicitly suggest.

The author could improve the strength of this by making explicit some implicit definitions and values posited by these theories. By doing so, the author would force readers to make a more complex synthesis of such a rich human behavioral construct as motivation. A synthesis that would help the reader understand, for example, why certain popular theories can’t explain certain behaviors left aside (purposely?) from research. For example, the article could include the author’s assessment of why Maslow’s theory can’t explain a painter that is working for weeks without properly eating, bathing and resting while some other theory (such as self-regulation?) could bring more light to the explanation of such a behavior. What are the implications of it for the institution of educational policy and curriculum development? Is such a stretch possible or does it simply sound like an intellectual exercise?

Furthermore, I believe more levels of abstraction could be introduced to this text. Those levels could be incorporated by mentioning some epistemological assumptions, which, in turn, would expand the scope of this article. What concept of humans, human behavior and education are implicit in their constructs and explanations?

In conclusion, this is a very good article for a reader who needs to get a first approximation to the theories of motivation, but it could be enriched by including more levels of depth, and therefore, to incorporate some analysis and synthesis of such an interesting and important matter within the discipline of education.