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Motivation, optimal experience and flow in first year computing science.

McDermott, Roger; Zarb, Mark; Daniels, Mats; Cajander, Åsa; Clear, Tony


Roger McDermott

Mark Zarb

Mats Daniels

Åsa Cajander

Tony Clear


We examine the concept of motivation from the perspective of Self Determination Theory and give a brief overview of relevant results. We also consider the optimal state known as Flow and give an account of its conceptualisation in the theory due to Csikszentmihalyi. After discussion of ways in which these concepts can be measured, we describe a set of preliminary studies that investigate motivation and flow in the context of a first year computing class. We analyse student responses to enquiries about perceptions of motivation and flow experiences and look at links between them. We also discuss intrinsic motivation within the subject.

Start Date Jul 11, 2016
Publication Date Jul 11, 2016
Publisher Association for Computing Machinery
Pages 206-211
Institution Citation MCDERMOTT, R., ZARB, M., DANIELS, M., CAJANDER, Å. and CLEAR, T. 2016. Motivation, optimal experience and flow in first year computing science. In Proceedings of the 2016 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) conference on innovation and technology in computer science education (ITiCSE '16), 9-13 July 2016, Arequipa, Peru. New York: ACM [online], pages 206-211. Available from:
Keywords Motivation; Self determination theory; Optimal experience; Flow; Computer science education


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