Motivation-Achievement Cycles in Learning: a Literature Review and Research Agenda

Tuong Van Vu*, Lucía Magis-Weinberg, Brenda R.J. Jansen, Nienke van Atteveldt, Tieme W.P. Janssen, Nikki C. Lee, Han L.J. van der Maas, Maartje E.J. Raijmakers, Maien S.M. Sachisthal, Martijn Meeter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


The question of how learners’ motivation influences their academic achievement and vice versa has been the subject of intensive research due to its theoretical relevance and important implications for the field of education. Here, we present our understanding of how influential theories of academic motivation have conceptualized reciprocal interactions between motivation and achievement and the kinds of evidence that support this reciprocity. While the reciprocal nature of the relationship between motivation and academic achievement has been established in the literature, further insights into several features of this relationship are still lacking. We therefore present a research agenda where we identify theoretical and methodological challenges that could inspire further understanding of the reciprocal relationship between motivation and achievement as well as inform future interventions. Specifically, the research agenda includes the recommendation that future research considers (1) multiple motivation constructs, (2) behavioral mediators, (3) a network approach, (4) alignment of intervals of measurement and the short vs. long time scales of motivation constructs, (5) designs that meet the criteria for making causal, reciprocal inferences, (6) appropriate statistical models, (7) alternatives to self-reports, (8) different ways of measuring achievement, and (9) generalizability of the reciprocal relations to various developmental, ethnic, and sociocultural groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-71
Number of pages33
JournalEducational Psychology Review
Issue number1
Early online date21 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Jacobs Foundation Science of Learning pilot grant to Nienke van Atteveldt and Brenda R. J. Jansen [project number 2019 1329 00]. Nienke van Atteveldt was also supported by a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC, grant #716736). The funders had no role in study design, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Academic achievement
  • Learning
  • Motivation
  • Reciprocal
  • Review


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