Interest and motivation

Interest and motivation is a research-based measure from the Tell Them From Me surveys. It is a source of evidence linked to What works best and the School Excellence Framework.

What is it?

Interest can be viewed as a set of interactions a student has with various ideas, events or subject-matter. Motivation entails the various thoughts and feelings that underlie our behaviours. For students, this can involve an intrinsic enjoyment of school learning and an orientation to achieving mastery, or an extrinsic orientation to receiving praise or tangible rewards.

The Tell Them From Me surveys ask students about their interest and intrinsic motivation in school subjects. The results are reported as the percentage of students who feel interested and motivated.

Why is it important?

Interest and motivation have a powerful effect on cognitive functioning and academic achievement. They are closely related to student effort, forming a key component of intellectual engagement at school. Early motivation for learning is important as it is a strong predictor for motivation in later stages of life. Teacher behaviours and school variables can make a difference to enhance students’ levels of interest and motivation.

School improvement links

School Excellence Framework element What works best theme
Learning culture High expectations


Evidence base

Broussard, S. C., & Garrison, M. E. B. (2004). The relationship between classroom motivation and academic achievement in elementary school-aged children. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 33(2), 106–120.

Dunleavy, J., Milton, P., & Willms, J. D. (2012). Trends in intellectual engagement. “What did you do in school today?” research series: Report number three. Toronto: Canadian Education Association.

Gottfried, A. E. (1990). Academic intrinsic motivation in young elementary school children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(3), 525–538.

Guthrie, J. T., Wigfield, A., & VonSecker, C. (2000). Effects of integrated instruction on motivation and strategy use in reading. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92(2), 331–341.

Hidi, S., & Harackiewicz, J. M. (2000). Motivating the academically unmotivated: A critical issue for the 21st century. Review of Educational Research, 70(2), 151–179.

Image: This explainer has been produced in collaboration with The Learning Bar.

Explainers of the Tell Them From Me measures have been produced in collaboration with The Learning Bar. The Tell Them From Me measures are provided by, and remain the intellectual property of, The Learning Bar. The explainers can also be found online within the Tell Them From Me portal. Tell Them From Me and TTFM are trademarks of The Learning Bar.


  • Student engagement and wellbeing
  • Tell Them From Me

Business Unit:

  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
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