Get Your Geek On: Assistance

Accessing Assistance on the Doctoral Journey by Tracy Wilson

This discussion will focus on my confidence level in coursework and dissertation.  I will also talk about my apprehension regarding the comprehensive exam.  Additionally, I  will discuss my willingness to ask for help when necessary and the sources I will use to seek help.


            The doctoral process presents challenges at every level.  However, I am most confident with coursework, writing (discussion boards, papers, and dissertation), and residencies.  The reason why I am confident in most of the coursework is because I was a distant learner at the University of North Dakota.  The experience in graduate school taught me a great deal about expectations and time management. 

Writing has always been easy for me, but I attribute that to wonderful high school teachers and undergraduate mentors who gave valuable feedback.  During graduate school, writing requirements were rigorous.  I have also practiced my writing skills in all of my jobs, especially child welfare.  I was required to complete precise, clinical dictation to meet the State’s requirements.  Teaching and fictional writing have also reinforced my writing skills. 

I was required to complete an on-campus residency for my graduate program.  I flew to Grand Forks, North Dakota for the last two weeks of my program.  I enjoyed meeting my cohort group and the faculty.  Traveling to a new place was an added perk.  Therefore, I am looking forward to the residency requirements for Capella.

My comfort level for all of the aforementioned also comes from being able to work well independently.  I use a weekly planner to stay on track with assignments.  If I do not do this, I tend to run off the rails quickly.  In addition, I work ahead in case any unforeseen issues come up.


            The statistics courses and the comprehensive exam fill me with anxiety.  As I have said before, I have significant weaknesses in math.  My experience with statistics in graduate school was not positive.  The instructor did not really teach us, so we had to navigate through the content individually or with our partner.  Luckily, my partner and I complemented one another, and we survived the course. 

            The comprehensive exam sounds straight-forward, but I have heard stories of folks getting through their coursework, reaching the comps, and then failing the re-take.  All of the sacrifice, time, effort, and money were for naught.  As I have emphasized already, failure is not an option for me.  I cannot justify going into debt for a program and then walking away empty-handed.  Although I am comfortable with writing, the endless tales of tragedy surrounding the comp exam makes me very apprehensive.

Asking for Help

            Self-sufficiency is an attribute, and I tend to be fairly self-reliant.  I have been told that I am driven, and when I set my sights on something, I am relentless.  Nonetheless, I know my limits.  I have already asked for help in this course, and I will continue to do so.  Reading Critical Thinking in Psychology (Ruscio, 2006) has only reinforced my willingness to seek out supportive services.  I cannot use my personal beliefs, interpretations, and perceptions as a foundation in my field of study.  Ruscio (2006) makes it clear that evidence must be provided when stating claims.  Furthermore, I certainly do not know everything about Educational Psychology, which is why asking questions is and will continue to be imperative. 

Sources of Help

            In reviewing this unit’s studies, I found several useful tools.  I have already utilized them.  The first time I spoke with my enrollment advisor, I explained my concern about statistics.  She told me about the Smarthinking option.  I absolutely love it!  I use it for the discussion boards and the assignments, but I know I will use it in future courses, too.  An extra set of eyes helps catch things that I miss, and sometimes tutoring can clarify areas of confusion.  I did not have any prior experience with such a supportive tool, but I am very impressed thus far.

            Peers, advisors, facilitators, and faculty members serve as crucial sources of support.  As I listened to the testimonials surrounding the residencies (Capella University, 2017a), I was encouraged and realized I would not have to walk this road alone.  In addition, the tutorial about dissertations served as a great way to understand expectations, the process, and who would be available to provide assistance (Capella University, 2017a). 

            Fear of the unknown can often derail the most determined individuals.  With this in mind, I listened to the presentation about the comprehensive exam (Capella University, 2017b).  The explanation of time frames, expectations, and the overall process helped ease some of my anxiety.  The comprehensive exam manual also provides some reassurance, and knowing that I will have individuals available to support me helps provide some reassurance (Capella University, 2016).  Still, the prospect of not passing it frightens me.


The confidence level I have with coursework, writing, residencies, and time management will serve me well in this program.  My apprehension about the statistics courses will probably be set to rest when I try to pass my first one.  The same applies to the comprehensive exam.  Until I reach that point, I will likely remain fearful.  However, the tools offered by Capella provide a secure lifeline.  Reviewing the various materials available in this unit has given me hope.  The unit studies also provided answers to questions, making the doctoral path clearer.   


Capella University.  (2017a).  Residencies:  Your path to success  .  Retrieved from

Capella University.  (2017b).  Welcome to the comprehensive examination .  Retrieved

from http//


Capella University.  (2016, October).  Capella University.  Retreived from

Ruscio, J.  (2006).  Critical thinking in psychology: Separating sense from nonsense (2nd ed.).

Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. 

Get Your Geek On: Topic Investigation Reflection

Learning from Topic Investigation by Tracy Wilson

This discussion will focus on how I completed my investigation of blended learning for Assignment 1.  I will describe what I learned from the research, how the assigned text helped me analyze the sources, and what I would have done differently.

The Investigation

    I began the assignment with a central topic (blended learning).  I then chose to type in keywords into PsycINFO, PsycJOURNALS, and Psychology Database.  I filtered the results using the tools in the library.  I used the peer-reviewed articles tool, the source type, subject, and classification. 

    After a close examination of the titles, I moved onto the abstracts.  Thereafter, I looked at the entire article, specifically searching for literature reviews, reliable data collection, and conclusions that supported my question. 

For Assignment 1, I chose the articles that delved deeply into my topic of interest and that left room for further research.  When I found keywords like “further research is needed” or “more exploration is required,” I set those articles aside for additional examination. 

The Process

    I learned a great deal from this process.  There were several discoveries that I made, most of all that the practice I am using in the classroom is researched, but mostly that more research is needed.  For example, in the article written by Graham, Woodfield, and Harrison (2012), I discovered that many institutions are trying to adopt blended learning, but they are at different phases of the process.  The article enlightened me regarding my place of employment and where they are in the process.   

Some universities are in the first phase, which is in the “awareness/exploration” phase (p.  11).  Most of the classes at the university where I teach are strictly traditional, providing lectures and standardized testing as a means of assessing achievement. 

The ultimate goal is to reach the third stage of implementation, which is “mature implementation and growth” (p.  11).  The third stage means that blended learning is integrated heavily into the curriculum, and constant improvements are being made to the programs.  Additionally, the improvements are driven by data collection and re-revaluation procedures. 

All three of the phases mentioned in Graham, Woodfield, and Harrison’s (2012) article began at the faculty level.  In other words, an instructor saw something that may be better for student outcomes and looked at implementation.  Still, there are barriers with policies, a significant lack of support for blended learning, and noteworthy benefits are not being seen on a large scale (p.  11).  I believe this can be changed. 

Sense and Nonsense

The information in Critical Thinking in Psychology (Ruscio, 2006) helped me decide what articles were worth reading and which ones were not.  I used Chapter Five to avoid untrustworthy authorities, going deeper into the methodology and data collection.  I searched for fallacies, self-proclaimed knowledge, and expertise.  If I found multiple articles by the same author(s), I took note of that, but I also looked for validity.  As I have noted before, and a point that Ruscio (2006) emphasizes in the text, just because something is popular does not mean that it is credible. 

    I used to think that experience served as a viable foundation for all things.  Chapter Six of Ruscio’s (2006) book taught me that I have been dreadfully wrong.  Using all of the sections in the sixth chapter helped me avoid articles that focused primarily on beliefs without foundations.  Also, if the article brought up situations that had absolutely no foundation in theory, I tossed it based on this week’s readings.  I adhered very closely to the lessons in Ruscio’s (2006) book to safeguard against foolish assumptions and flawed logic.


    As I reflect on the research process, I would not change my approach.  Utilizing the tools available through the library helped me avoid problems with validity and reliability.  The peer-review tool is an excellent safety-net. 

As for the writing, I cannot think of anything I would have done differently.   My writing is guided by the research, and I work strictly from an outline.  It helps me create a coherent assessment of findings.  The outline also allows me to see where the research is lacking. 

The goal of any assignment is to think critically about the findings and move beyond what is known.  Thus, I discovered that I need to dig deeper into the research about blended learning.  I want to employ evidence-based practices in my teaching styles to improve student outcomes.  Finding gaps will help me fill in those blanks with my own sound, credible research.     


    I enjoyed Assignment 1.  The evidence involving blended learning implementation, perceptions, assessment, and success empowered me to find out more.  In addition, I want to know if a transfer of learning component has been integrated into the current models.  However, finding research regarding the transfer of learning component is challenging.  Nonetheless, it is providing an opportunity to fill in that gap with my own theory and research.  I am looking forward to the challenge.  In the meantime, this assignment has taught me how to look at articles with skepticism and try to find literature with foundations in empirical, primary research involving a peer-review process.


Graham, C., Woodfield, W., & Harrison, J. (2012).  A framework for instructional adoption and

          implementation of blended learning in higher education.  Internet and Higher Education,

          18, 4-14.  doi:  10.1016/j.iheduc.2012.09.003

Ruscio, J. (2006). Critical thinking in psychology: Separating sense from nonsense (2nd ed.).

          Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. 

Get Your Geek On: Blended Learning

Blended Learning:  Effectiveness, Implementation, Assessment, Perceptions, & Engagement

Tracy E. Wilson

Capella University



Blended Learning:  Turning the Tide for Student Success

Professional Interest

Blended learning is typically defined as a learning environment using a combination of face-to-face and online learning (Vaughan, 2014, p. 248).  During a faculty symposium in April, Dr. Saundra McGuire (2017) presented information showing that the university where I work has a below average graduation rate of 30.1% compared to the national average of 47%.  The freshman retention rate is 57% compared to the national average of 72% (2017).

I want to find innovative ways to improve the abovementioned statistics.  In order to do that, I wanted to explore the effectiveness of blended learning, the implementation and assessment associated with blended learning, and student perception and engagement when it comes to blended learning.

The articles I chose for this assignment helped me find gaps in research, allowing for further exploration of blended classrooms and student success.  I also found very little information about blended learning with a transfer of learning component, which is a foundational component of the classes I teach.  Pioneering research will provide benefits for the university, ranging from increases in enrollment, funding, retention, and graduation rates.

Potential Ethical Concerns

There appear to be very few ethical issues regarding blended learning studies.  I explored PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, and Psychology Database.  A personal concern in conducting research of this kind is the relationship dynamics with participants.  To address those concerns, I looked to the American Psychological Association for guidance.

An article written by Smith (2003) offered many solutions to several ethical problems, included the aforementioned.  To avoid the pitfalls with relationship dynamics, using volunteers and random assignment would safeguard against ethical breeches.  Also, providing informed consent along with using stringent privacy standards set by the APA will prevent any issues.

Key Words

Blended learning, transfer of learning, student success, assessment, instructional design, higher education, teaching, retention, graduation rates, learning strategies.


I used PsycARTICLES, PsycINFO, and Psychology Database to find articles relating to my topic.  The majority of the articles I reviewed were rooted in both qualitative and quantitative research.


To evaluate the reliability, validity, and credibility, I used the peer-review tool provided in the library databases.  I also ensured that the articles included a literature review, a detailed explanation of data collection methods, and the subsequent results.  I chose to look for articles written within the last three to five years.


Eryilmaz, M. (2015). The effectiveness of blended learning environments. Contemporary Issues

          in Education Research, 8(4), 251-256.  doi:  10.19030/cier.v8i4.9433

Eryilmaz conducted research regarding the effectiveness of learning environments compared to face-to-face instruction, blended instruction, and online lesson.  Using 110 students, evaluations were completed for each instructional setting. The participants in the blended learning environment engaged in cooperative activities, exercised their ability to use prior knowledge, and created new knowledge.  The participants also exhibited improved study habits.  They also gave positive feedback regarding the usefulness, effectiveness, and preparedness for the future.

Graham, C., Woodfield, W., & Harrison, J. (2012).  A framework for instructional adoption and

implementation of blended learning in higher education.  Internet and Higher Education,

          18, 4-14.  doi:  10.1016/j.iheduc.2012.09.003

The authors examined issues surrounding blended learning instruction, construction, support, and implementation.  Case study methodology was used with administrators from several educational institutions.  Findings indicated that each institution was operating at a different phase of implementation.  Some programs were in their infancy.  Other institutions were in the stages of early implementation.  Yet more institutions were using blended learning, including it in course catalogs and course descriptions.  The authors found that there were barriers, nevertheless, to blended learning practices ranging from instructional policies to student support.

Lopez-Perez, M. V., Perez-Lopez, M., & Rodriguez-Ariza, L. (2011).  Blended learning in

higher education:  Students’ perceptions and their relation to outcomes.  Computers & Education, (56), 818-            826.  doi:  10.1016/j.compedu.2010.10.023

The authors conducted research to learn more about how students’ perceived blended learning activities, the effect on drop-out rate reduction, and improving grades.  The authors used questionnaires and comparative research.  For instance, the authors tracked results for 985 valid samples from first year undergraduate students using non-dropout rate and final grades as criteria (p. 820).  The researchers then compared the rates to the previous years.  Their findings indicated a reduction in drop-out rates and significant progress with exams.  Students felt more motivated, more satisfied, and increased their content knowledge.

Tseng, H., & Walsh, E. (2016).  Blended versus traditional course delivery:  Comparing

students’ motivation, learning outcomes, and preferences.  The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 17(1),

43-52.  Retrieved from

The authors examined how blended learning impacted students’ motivation as well as learning outcomes and personal preferences.  They surveyed instructors and students using Course Interest Survey, Learning Outcomes and Skills Assessment Scale, and Delivery Mode Perceptions Scale (p. 46).  According to their findings, blended learning promoted engagement, motivation, and students had less trouble meeting deadlines.  Peer interaction improved, participants felt more empowered to take charge of their own learning, technology positively influenced student learning, and instructor feedback was provided timely and more consistently.  Students showed stronger writing skills, analytical abilities, interpersonal relations, and computer literacy.

Vaughan, N. (2014).  Student engagement and blended learning:  Making the assessment

connection.  Education Sciences, 4, 247-264.  doi:  10.3390/educsci4040247

Vaughan researched what types of assessments could be beneficial for blended learning environments.  Data was collected using quantitative methods, specifically online surveys, and qualitative methods, such as interviews and focus groups.  273 students were included as well as 8 instructors (p.250).  The findings suggest that assessment should be balanced in a blended learning environment (e.g., using standardized testing along with blogs or peer review activities).  By integrating both assessment situations, the outcomes could be empirically supported, thus gains could be made with student learning outcomes and development.


Eryilmaz, M. (2015). The effectiveness of blended learning environments. Contemporary Issues

          in Education Research, 8(4), 251-256.  doi:  10.19030/cier.v8i4.9433

Graham, C., Woodfield, W., & Harrison, J. (2012).  A framework for instructional adoption and

implementation of blended learning in higher education.  Internet and Higher Education,

          18, 4-14.  doi:  10.1016/j.iheduc.2012.09.003

Lopez-Perez, M. V., Perez-Lopez, M., & Rodriguez-Ariza, L. (2011).  Blended learning in

higher education:  Students’ perceptions and their relation to outcomes.  Computers & Education, (56), 818-

826.  doi:  10.1016/j.compedu.2010.10.023

McGuire, S. (2017, April).  Get students focused on learning instead of grades:

Metacognition is the key.  Improving Student Success:  It Takes a Whole Village.

Symposium conducted at the faculty development meeting of Shawnee State

University, Portsmouth, Ohio.

Smith, D.  (2003).  Five principles for research ethics:  Cover your bases with these ethical

strategies.  Monitor on Psychology, 34(1), 56.  doi:  10.1037/e300062003-028

Tseng, H., & Walsh, E. (2016).  Blended versus traditional course delivery:  Comparing

students’ motivation, learning outcomes, and preferences.  The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 17(1),

43-52.  Retrieved from

Vaughan, N. (2014).  Student engagement and blended learning:  Making the assessment

connection.  Education Sciences, 4, 247-264.  doi:  10.3390/educsci4040247

Get Your Geek On: Reflective Discussion

Reflective Discussion by Tracy Wilson

This discussion will focus on my specialization, Educational Psychology, and the research regarding that field of study.  I will discuss my interests in the field, debates in the field, and how Critical Thinking in Psychology (Ruscio, 2006) helped me evaluate appropriate sources.  Lastly, I will discuss my thoughts regarding dissertation.

Topics and Why They Interest Me

I am constantly trying to find new ways to teach, motivate, and move undergraduate students toward success.  Therefore, I chose to research various topics relating to instruction and learning.  Botma, Van Rensburg, Coetzee, and Heyns (2015) discussed a conceptual framework for designing programs at a modular level to encourage a transfer of learning.  They proposed the process has four steps:  activation of knowledge the student already has, encouraging the student to engage in new information, a demonstration of competency, and application in a real world setting (p. 499). 

Demirer and Sahin (2013) conducted research regarding blended learning and using a transfer of learning component to improve curriculum design and teaching.  The findings indicated positive outcomes with students.  Blended learning provides an alternative to traditional learning environments and more engagement.

Debates in Educational Psychology

Evans, Cools, and Charlesworth (2010) explained that cognitive and learning styles in the world of research have been a focus of debate.  Some feel that view cognitive styles and learning styles as synonymous and interchangeable even.  The point that the authors are trying to prove is that they stand alone and that style makes a significant difference with learning in higher education.  The situation is complex, and while there is significant support for cognitive and learning styles in research, more investigation is needed (2010). 

Brown and Kuratko (2015) stated that there has been little agreement about creative thinking in the classroom.  Innovation strategies were not being effectively employed either.  For example, Brown and Kuratko (2015) state that “the importance of teaching design thinking for all professionals rather than just for designers has been argued by several scholars, some have begun debating why design thinking has not necessarily translated to more successful products and services” (p. 148).  The point is that there is a great deal of agreement that innovation in educational design, but there are still areas where innovation strategies are lacking.

Collectively, more research is needed regarding blended learning, transfer of learning, and success for students.  Some of the other generalized areas that are causing some disagreement include assessment procedures and implementation.  Additionally, more researching is needed to settle debates regarding institutional policies and best-practice.  

Evaluating Source Materials

After reading Critical Thinking in Psychology (Ruscio, 2006), it was much easier to sift through the articles in the library.  Knowing what is considered science and pseudoscience is essential for finding valid research.  Also, Ruscio (2006) discussed critical thinking skills and employing those as I waded through articles was extremely helpful.  Additionally, the information in the text regarding popularity and reviews reinforced that just because other folks like something does not mean that it is right.  Along with that is to avoid availability heuristics.  Shortcuts are wonderful for everyday problem-solving, but not for evaluating sources.

Based on the skills I gained from Ruscio (2006), I looked for psychological reasoning biases, experimental processes, data collection, analysis, and evaluation of the data.  I also utilized the peer-reviewed filtering tool.  There were many articles that I found that exercised opinion-based, experience-driven research with little to no data.  I am now able to understand and recognize key elements of credible, reliable research and secondary puff pieces. 


As I stated in the previous post, I truly want to know if using a transfer of learning component with blended learning can influence student success.  Further to this point, I want to know what effect it has on graduation rates and student retention.  I do not want to assume that it has any impact at all.  I want evidence. 


In conclusion, completing this reflective post has solidified my decision to move toward a doctorate in Educational Psychology.  Researching the various aspects of this field are fascinating and I want to understand more!  There are so many avenues yet to be explored and reading the assigned texts has helped me evaluate source materials for the projects ahead.  My dissertation choice is very skeletal at this point, but my desire to be a better teacher will propel me forward.  If I can fine-tune my theory, track the data, and find supporting evidence, then I can contribute significantly to my field.


Botma, Y., Van Rensburg, G., Coetzee, I., & Heyns, T. (2015).  A conceptual framework for

          educational design at modular level to promote transfer of learning.  Innovation in Education and Teaching International,

         52(5), 499-509.  doi:  10.1080/14703297.2013.866051

Brown, T., & Kuratko, D. (2015).  The impact of design and innovation on the future of

          education.  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 9(2), 147-151. doi: 


Demirer, V., & Sahin, I. (2013).  Effect of blended learning environment on transfer of learning: 

          An experimental study.  Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29(6), 513-529.  doi:10.1111/jcal.12009

Evans, C., Cools, E., & Charlesworth, M. (2010).  Learning in higher education – how cognitive

          and learning styles matter.  Teaching in Higher Education, 15(4), 467-478.  doi: 


Ruscio, J. (2006). Critical thinking in psychology: Separating sense from nonsense (2nd ed.).

          Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Get Your Geek On: Choosing a Doctoral Specialization

Choosing Your Specialization by Tracy Wilson

This post will discuss my specialization at Capella University, my specific interests in that specialty, career goals, program requirements, workforce expectations, planning, and the research questions and methods in my area of study. 

Specialization, Interests, and Career Goals

            As an adjunct instructor, Educational Psychology with an emphasis in psychology teaching and instruction is a natural fit for me.  I have a heart-felt interest in helping students succeed.  I want to be a tenured professor at a university, preferably where I am employed already.  However, if that is not possible, I will utilize the Career Center at Capella to find other opportunities.  Moreover, I want to contribute to the field by finding innovative ways to teach and engage with students.

Workforce Requirements, Degree Requirements, and Planning

I spoke to colleagues at the university where I teach before enrolling in the Educational Psychology program.  I wanted to understand what my department expected from potential employees.  I also wanted a solid understanding of the time and effort it would take to complete a doctoral program. 

I will not be required to obtain a license.  The coursework that I am completing is more than adequate.  According to the discussions I have had with my department chair, coursework in psychology, instruction, and a successful dissertation are the primary requirements for employment.  Capella’s program meets that criteria.  Therefore, I will be taking core classes, specialization courses, and emphasis courses.  Some of my graduate credits transferred, so I am pretty pleased with that.

The program consists of many core requirements, including several statistics courses.  This makes me very anxious because I am terrible at math.  Although I received an “A” in graduate level statistics, I suffered many sleepless nights and panic attacks.  Frankly, I am dreading these classes, but I already plan to utilize tutoring services to survive. 

In addition to core coursework, I am required to take specialization courses.  Two of my graduate classes transferred to suffice for a core course requirement and another for a specialization course.  The specialization courses I have on my academic plan are Lifespan Development, Learning Theories in Psychology, Motivation, and Principles of Educational Psychology (Academic plan, 2017).  My emphasis is in psychology teaching and instruction, so I will be taking The Psychology of Teaching, Principles of Instructional Design, Adult Learner in the Classroom, and Online Teaching in Psychology Practicum (2017).

           I also am required to complete three residencies, take a comprehensive exam, and then finish with a dissertation.  I am looking forward to the residencies.  I love traveling and networking.  I am a little anxious about the comprehensive exam.  I have heard horror stories about folks flunking it and then unsuccessfully completing a retake.

I am not apprehensive about the dissertation.  In fact, I am looking forward to researching areas that interest me.  Having my contributions published is another added bonus. 

To complete the requirements, I have decided to take two classes in the summer quarters and only one in the fall, winter, and spring.  Although that was not the original plan, I have realized how difficult it would be to set aside 30 hours per week for studying while teaching.  I will complete the program in a little over four years (2017). 

Research Questions and Methods in Educational Psychology

For this portion of the discussion, I was asked to look at my specialization broadly.  However, as an instructor, I use a blended learning model with a transfer of learning component.  Therefore, I wanted to know more about the current research, designs, and implementation.  One of many articles I found include one written by Botam, Van Rensburg, Coetzee, and Heyns (2015) and they focused their research on a transfer of learning and health care.  Using Bloom’s taxonomy, I went beyond the realm of health care and evaluated how the transfer of learning could be applied across disciplines.  I came up with several ideas, but because I am still looking at the research, I do not want to present claims without evidence.


The road ahead will be challenging, but knowing what is expected of me in the Educational Psychology program at Capella serves as a road map.  Most of all, understanding current research and methodology will allow me to work toward my dissertation and give credibility to my teaching methods.


Academic plan.  (2017, April 20).  Retrieved from

Botma, Y., Van Rensburg, G., Coetzee, I., & Heyns, T. (2015).  A conceptual framework for

          educational design at modular level to promote transfer of learning.  Innovation in Education and Teaching International,

          52(5), 499-509.  doi:  10.1080/14703297.2013.866051

Get Your Geek On: Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy

Applying Bloom’s Taxonomy by Tracy Wilson

This post will investigate Bloom’s taxonomy through three articles written by Diniburtun (2012), Neher (1991), and Bassett-Jones and Lloyd (2005).  Additionally, similarities and difference among those articles will be analyzed as well as mutual agreements among the readings and gaps that need to be addressed.

Key Ideas

What motivates people to achieve success?  Diniburtun (2012), Neher (1991), and Bassett-Jones and Lloyd (2005) sought out to answer this age-old question.  They dissected three major theories.

For Diniburtun (2012), David McClelland’s motivation theory was the key focus.  According to the article, some individuals are motivated by the triumph aspect of success.  Power also serves motivation, but not in a negative sense; they seek to change the world for the better.  Still others are motivated by positive social constructs, and through relationships they achieve success. 

McClleland’s model focused on three key concepts (2012).  The first was achievement motive, which is motivation based on a person’s need for success.  They are intrinsically motivated and will take on task that present the possibility for success.  However, they do not prefer situation that are overly difficult. 

The second concept is motivation through power (2012).  These personality types crave power and want to influence others in a direct way.  They want to change the world by offering a better way to do things.  These individuals have a high likelihood of becoming drunk on power, yet if they stay on course, they can become wonderful administrators.

Thirdly, is the type of motivation that comes from the need for inclusion (2012).  These individuals have a need to interact and have relationships.  Those relationships provide the motivation for success.  They are typically very friendly and are a wealth of support for others.

Neher (1991) focused on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and implied that needs drive behavior, which then provides motivation toward success.  The goal is to develop holistically toward self actualization.  Striving for more should motivate individuals passed the lower level needs.

In the article, Neher (1991) explains Maslow’s hierarchy, stating that basic need, such as food and water, come first.  Next is the need to feel safe.  Thirdly, a person must feel loved and engage in intimacy with others.  The fourth need is self-esteem.  Lastly, the person reaches his or her full potential when self actualization is reached.  This is the end-goal and represents the top of the pyramid in Maslow’s model.  The first, second, third, and fourth level is called “D needs” (1991).  They drive a person towards fulfillment.  However, the fifth need, self actualization, is a “B-need” (1991).  This means that the need maintains and drives the individual based on “deprivation,” not gratification (1991).

Bassett-Jones and Lloyd (2005) looked at Herzberg’s approach to motivation.  They examined dissatisfaction, satisfaction, and neutrality.  A finding that was somewhat surprising was that money did not motivate people in the work force.  Additionally, findings indicated that happy or unhappy employees were influenced by the work environment and all of the dynamics therein.

The motivators in this model take a two-pronged approach.  There are “work-hygiene factors” (2005) and motivations that sustain a person’s efforts.  At the most basic level, money is a hygiene factor for workforce motivation.  However, money does not provide motivation.  The reason why folks are dissatisfied is not because of money, but rather because of policies, administration, supervision issues, and general working conditions.

Similarities and Differences

Each theorist presents different findings to each research endeavor, but most of the time those findings overlap.  This is true with the authors in this literature review.  All three of the articles touched on success and motivation.  They also examined various social aspects of motivation and success.  Additionally, they address needs with various means of assessment.  

The differences between the articles were somewhat subtle.  The most pronounced difference was in Herzberg’s work because it focused entirely on motivation in the work force (Bassette-Jones & Lloyd, 2005).  Maslow and McClelland focused on intrinsic motivation and social psychology as a whole (Dinibutun, 2012; Neher, 1991).

Mutual Agreements and Gaps in Research

All of the articles have one common theme:  motivation.  According to the theorists, motivation moves individuals toward success and the motivations are different for each person (Bassett-Jones & Lloyd, 2005; Dinibutun, 2012; Neher, 1991).  All three theorists can agree that being successful is a personal journey and that certain steps must be taken to reach various aspirations.  The common theme among the articles is how social psychology can play into motivation and achievement.  The effect of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors were common among the literature, gratification being the key component.

In reviewing the literature, there was one gap.  Perhaps this gap was addressed in the articles’ entirety, but based on the excerpts motivational strategies were not discussed.  Successful people employ strategies to stay motivated and reach their potential (Palmer, 2005).  Adding strategies would have brought the articles together even more and offered assistance to individuals who are seeking motivational tools.


In conclusion, the articles reviewed were insightful and presented aspects of motivation that are important for academic pursuits and work force adjustment.  While all of the articles revolved around the common theme of motivation, strategies were not discussed.  Still, the articles offered an understanding into social dynamics and how they ultimately play a major role in motivation and success. 


Bassett-Jones, N., & Lloyd, G.C. (2005).  Does Herzberg’s motivation theory have staying

          power?  The Journal of Management Development, 24(10), 929-943.  doi:  10.1108/02621710510627064

Dinibutun, S. R. (2012). Work motivation: Theoretical framework. GSTF Business Review

         (GBR), 1(4), 133-139. Retrieved from

Neher, A. (1991).  Maslow’s theory of motivation:  A critique.  Journal of Humanistic

         Psychology, 31(3), 89–122.

Palmer, B.  (2005). Create individualized motivation strategies. Strategic HR Review, 4(3), 5.

        Retrieved from