行为理论是一种将行为理解为动机的指导因素的理论。Huitt & Hummel (1997a)的研究工作阐述了经典条件反射和生物反应将如何用于动机的方向。激励机制的强化将推动用户以某种方式行动。这可能会导致它们在接受训练时行为的增加或减少(Huitt & Hummel, 1997b)。
认知理论与行为理论相反，其根源在于理解动机与信息加工的关系(Weiner, 1974)。在研究工作中观察到不同的认知理论。理解动机的一个流行的认知理论是归因理论(Weiner, 1974)。正如Heider(1958)和Weiner(1974)在归因理论中所概述的那样，每个个体都会试图通过给予某些归因来解释成功和失败，这意味着成功和失败都是归因的结果。归因可以是学生认为对他们的成功有重大贡献的任何因素，也可以是阻止他们导致失败的任何事情。他们赋予它属性的方式可能又是不同的类型。归因可以是内部的，也可以是外部的，也可以是不受个人控制的，或者在他们控制之下的。在学习环境中，学习者的归因水平可以被理解以帮助他们。应该帮助学习者发展内部归因和控制。在内部归因中，学习者知道事情的发生是因为他们的努力(Dong et al.， 2015;维纳,2014;维纳,1974)。学习者观察对学习过程的控制程度。当个体遭受更多的外部归因时，当他们没有感知到控制并愿意责怪外部因素时，那么这个人就不会有动力继续进行适当的学习行为，因为他们认为自己缺乏控制。一个有外部归因的人与一个有内部归因的人相比，老师很难帮助他们(Weiner, 2014)。基于反馈的学习系统的作用可以改善内部归因方面。有内部归因的个体会对自己的学习行为有更好的控制，并更负责任(Weiner, 2014)当行为理论条件反射应用于归因的认知理论时，可以说，随着时间的推移，个体受到了正强化的条件反射，然后他们将学会更好地欣赏他们的控制(Dong等人，2015)。
Behavioural theory is one that understands behaviour as guiding factors when it comes to motivation. The research works of Huitt & Hummel (1997a) present how classical conditioning responses and biological responses would be used in the direction of motivations. The reinforcement of incentives will hence push the user to act a certain way. It could result in an increase or decrease in behaviour as they are trained (Huitt & Hummel, 1997b).
Cognitive theory as opposed to behavioural theory has its roots in understanding motivation in relation to information processing (Weiner, 1974). There are different cognitive theories as observed in the case of research works. One popular Cognitive theory to understanding motivations is Attribution Theory (Weiner, 1974). As Heider (1958) and Weiner (1974) outlined in relation to attribution theory, every individual will try to explain success and failure by giving some attributions which means the success and failure were a result of the attributions. Attributions can be any factor that the student feels was a significant contribution towards their success or something that deterred them resulting in failure. The way they attribute it could be of different types again. Attributions could be internal or external and they can also be attributions that are not under the control of the individual or those that are under their control. In a learning environment, the learner attribution levels could be understood in order to assist them. The learner should be assisted to develop an internal attribution and control. With internal attribution, the learner understands that things happen because of their effort (Dong et al., 2015; Weiner, 2014; Weiner, 1974). The learner observes a level of control over the learning process. Where individuals suffer more of external attribution, where they do not perceive control and are willing to blame externalities, then the person will not be motivated to proceed with appropriate study behaviour as they believe they lack control. A person with external attribution would be difficult for the teacher to help versus a person with internal attribution (Weiner, 2014). The role of feedbacks based study system could hence improve the internal attribution aspects. An individual with internal attribution will possess better control over their learning behaviour, and is motivated to be more responsible (Weiner, 2014)When behavioural theory conditioning is applied towards the cognitive theory of attributions, then it could be said that where an individual is conditioned with positive reinforcements over time, then they would learn to better appreciate their controls (Dong et al., 2015).
Another cognitive theory with relevance to student motivation is Expectancy Theory (Vroom 1964). Vroom (1964) proposed this theory based on expectancies and hence it is called the Expectancy Theory. According to expectancy theory, three elements are to be satisfied for the individual to be successful.