Motivation does affect the learning process and even how students learn from their own behavior. Motivation affects students' goal achievement, effort level, persistence, cognitive processes and performance.

Learners set their own goals, and they naturally have incentive for achieving them. As students are working toward those goals, they make choices based on those aspirations. Likewise, their interests affect what they do in their free time. For instance, if learners are interested in art, they are motivated to practice those skills on their own time in the hopes of improving.

In the same vein, increased motivation leads to increased effort in an educational task. Inspiration dictates whether a student pursues educational tasks with enthusiasm or apathy, which affects the outcome. Likewise, more-motivated students are likely to persist in their learning. Inspired learners begin educational tasks sooner and stick with them longer. In fact, motivated students usually persist in a task until it is completed, regardless of interruptions or frustrations.

Motivated learners also pay greater attention, which affects their cognitive processes because they make more of an effort to understand material. Such students are also more likely to see the wider application for their learning, which further motivates them.

Motivation also affects how students learn from their behaviors and the consequences of them. Learners inspired by academic success are more affected by a low grade than students who care less. As such, motivated students may exhibit better behavior in the classroom, which enhances their overall performance.