Activity Settings as Contexts for Motivation: Reframing Classroom Motivation as Dilemmas Within and Between Activities

  • Michael Middleton
  • Alison Rheingold
  • Jayson Seaman


This chapter examines recent developments in motivational research that urge greater attention to social and relational factors in shaping children’s pursuit of school-related goals. An activity-theoretical framework is used to examine a small group of middle-school students progressing through a unit to illustrate how participation and learning were motivated by dilemmas within and between activities. These dilemmas were central in shaping children’s pursuit of school-related goals and their engagement with academic content. It is argued that goal structures are not only defined by surface features of the classroom environment but also constituted by activity elements that coordinate motives across activities and are leveraged by members to generate, understand, and resolve problems at hand.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Middleton
    • 1
  • Alison Rheingold
    • 2
  • Jayson Seaman
    • 3
  1. 1.Hunter College/CUNYNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Holyoke Public SchoolsHolyokeUSA
  3. 3.Department of Kinesiology – Outdoor EducationUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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