Intrinsic Motivation and the Process of Learning: Beneficial Effects of Contextualization, Personalization, and Choice

Diana I. Cordova*, Mark R. Lepper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

775 Scopus citations


This experiment examined the effects on the learning process of 3 complementary strategies - contextualization, personalization, and provision of choices - for enhancing students' intrinsic motivation. Elementary school children in 1 control and 4 experimental conditions worked with educational computer activities designed to teach arithmetical order-of-operations rules. In the control condition, this material was presented abstractly. In the experimental conditions, identical material was presented in meaningful and appealing learning contexts, in either generic or individually personalized form. Half of the students in each group were also offered choices concerning instructionally incidental aspects of the learning contexts; the remainder were not. Contextualization, personalization, and choice all produced dramatic increases, not only in students' motivation but also in their depth of engagement in learning, the amount they learned in a fixed time period, and their perceived competence and levels of aspiration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)715-730
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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