Learning and Motivation by Edward Chace Tolman Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 27 September 2016

Learning and Motivation by Edward Chace Tolman

Experts in psychology have multiple definitions, at times contentious, of both motivation and learning as well as indistinct explanation of how the two correlate to each other. In this field of educational psychology, there have been several introspections into how an individual is driven to learn about new things. The drive behind every quest to gain knowledge of a new phenomenon has been attributed to motivation.

Motivation can simply be defined as an inner situation or circumstance, often portrayed like a necessity yearning or wish, which act as catalyst to set in motion some action and provide it with a course. Scholars in motivation believe that this stimulus plays a central role in learning given the fact that to gain knowledge of a thing or phenomenon cannot happen by itself but requires a kind of incentive (Benjamin, 2007). The point of divergence between psychologists revolves around the issue if motivation is principal or lesser player in determining and shaping how individuals conduct themselves.

Edward Tolman is revered for his numerous and important inputs to the psychology discipline.  He is credited for conceptualizing a cognitive supposition of erudition, his area of expertise. Tolman postulates that learning is gradually built upon smidgens of acquaintance and the psychological result of perception and reasoning with reference to the surrounding and ways in which individuals make a logical or causal connection. It seems to oppose earlier theorists who consider erudition as an austere action-result association.

He asserts that individuals engage in a concealed type of learning on a regular basis as they go about their duties and that real learning is attained in times of necessity. He further says that an intention compels an individual pending a modification of an inner condition and before that occur, an individual carry on to act similarly (Benjamin, 2007).

This information can be applied to schools and vocational training to motivate learners to be more serious in their studies. A scheme of rewards and reprimand can be established in school curriculum such that an excellent performance by learners is recognized and honored while a dismal output is shunned. This can also be extended to other stakeholders of the school. The end effect would be that people are bound to do what is right and excellently because their efforts are rewarded. The opposite is also true.


Benjamin T. L. (2007). A brief history of modern psychology: Blackwell brief histories of

Psychology. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.

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