Directed motivational currents: An agenda for future research

Christine Muir
University of Nottingham
Ozge Gumus
Adıyaman University
Keywords: directed motivational currents/DMCs, language learner motivation, long-term motivation, project based learning


Directed motivational currents (DMCs) encapsulate a unique motivational phenomenon. DMCs are highly positive, potent motivational experiences which can carry individuals or groups forwards to achieving valued goals at both a remarkable rate, and with a perceived feeling of seemingly ‘effortless effort’. Although research into DMCs began under a decade ago (Dörnyei, Ibrahim & Muir, 2015; Dörnyei, Muir & Ibrahim, 2014; Henry, Davydenko & Dörnyei, 2015; Muir & Dörnyei, 2013), the motivational experience DMCs encapsulate is, in and of itself, certainly not novel. DMCs appear to be widely recognizable in diverse contexts, and may even be relatively widely experienced (Muir, 2020). The theoretical underpinning of DMC theory draws together findings from a broad range of well-established motivational disciplines in related areas of psychology (including cognitive and educational psychology), alongside motivation research rooted more fully in the context of language learning (LLing) and teaching. We begin by overviewing the DMC construct itself, outlining key cornerstones and primary theoretical principles that underpin our understanding of each. We go on to lay out a broad agenda for further study, continuing the discussion in the final chapter of Muir (2020), by foregrounding six avenues for future research. Viewed together, they are demonstrative of the scope of future research potential surrounding DMC theory, incorporating both theoretical and applied (pedagogic) directions for inquiry. For each future avenue that we propose, we foreground several more specific directions in which research effort might begin.