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This column provides an ongoing series of insights into the relevance of educational psychology to the practice of librarianship, with an emphasis on reference service in academic libraries. Personal interest and desire to learn are primary drivers of educational attainment. An intrinsically motivated student can be expected to learn more and retain what they have learned better than a student forced against their will to complete a task. Intrinsic motivation is thus an engine that drives effective learning. Levels of intrinsic learning can be measured by degrees of interest, engagement, and exploration.


Co-authored with James D. Allen, Ph.D. This is an accepted manuscript of an article published by Taylor and Francis in The Reference Librarian, 2017, available online:

Revised version published as Chapter 1 in Educational Psychology for Academic Librarians at



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