Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic Motivation: Doing something for personal satisfaction. There is always an internal motivator – students are not looking for anything in return. This kind of motivation makes you feel good, you feel personally challenged, and leads to a sense of accomplishment. Students are doing the assignment “just because”. Extrinsic Motivation: Doing something to earn a reward or avoid a punishment. External motivator – students are expecting to get something in return for completing the task at hand. Students are doing the assignment to get something they like.

Extrinsic motivation only produces short-term effects. Students also learn to compare themselves and their work to that of their peers due to this kind of motivation. There can be room for both intrinsic and extrinsic, especially when there is a task at hand that students do not enjoy. Sometimes the “right incentive” serves as the hook that gets students invested in learning.

The Key is Finding the Right Balance!!

How can teachers spark students’ intrinsic motivation?? We cannot change who a student is, but we can provide an environment that encourages students to develop their own motivation. Here are some examples to get you started!

~ Know your students: Design lessons around likes and interests in the classroom ~ Ownership of the environment: Involve students when creating rules and expectations of your classroom ~ Create a solid foundation: Motivation comes from being able to tackle complex tasks, students need a solid foundation of prior knowledge to carry out this type of task ~ Practice setting goals: Goals improve motivation and achievement as well as encourage a growth mindset ~ Provide specific feedback: Instead of saying “good work” try to tie feedback to a strength of the assignment, “nice work detailing all the steps of your work” ~ Allow Choice: When students are given choice they believe that the assignment is more important because they are more interested in completing it ~ Connect class to the real-world: When a student knows that the work they are completing has ties to their future they will be more motivated and engaged

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