Working paper

Should Economists Listen to Educational Psychologists? Some Economics of Student Motivation

Jocelyn Donze, and Trude Gunnes


This paper sheds light on the role of student motivation in the success of schooling. We develop a model in which a teacher engages in the management of student moti- vation through the choice of the classroom environment. We show that the teacher is able to motivate high-ability students, at least in the short run, by designing a com- petitive environment. For students with low ability, risk aversion, or when engaged in a long-term relationship, the teacher designs a classroom environment that is more focused on mastery and self-referenced standards. In doing so, the teacher helps to develop the intrinsic motivation of students and their capacity to overcome failures.


Education; Student achievement; Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation;

JEL codes

  • D03: Behavioral Microeconomics • Underlying Principles
  • I21: Analysis of Education

See also

Published in

TSE Working Paper, n. 11-247, May 22, 2011