Acknowledging the Whiteness of Motivation Research: Seeking Cultural Relevance

Ellen L. Usher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


This commentary revisits compelling arguments put forth by the contributors to this special issue on the role of race and ethnicity in academic motivation research. First, an overview of how race and motivation have been positioned in prominent theories of motivation is provided and juxtaposed with those offered in culturally responsive pedagogical approaches championed by multicultural educators. Special emphasis is placed on how teachers' and learners' sociohistorical and cultural contexts might influence motivation. Second, the critical role of identity and membership complexity is explored. Third, suggestions for more culturally attentive research methods are offered. The final section includes research and practice recommendations for supporting the academic motivation of diverse learners. Challenges to theoretical and methodological assumptions about race, ethnicity, and culture are offered throughout, including a call to address the role that racism, power, and privilege have played in perpetuating inequality in motivation research conducted in the United States.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-144
Number of pages14
JournalEducational Psychologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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