As a student, I think and talk about motivation frequently. Some days, I don’t feel motivated at all- I procrastinate and drag my feet to complete a homework assignment or study for an upcoming test. Other times, I do feel motivated to do my work well and be productive with my time. I’m sure you can relate, too! However, motivation in a learning context is more than just feeling inclined to do your homework. Instead, motivation is more about what is driving us to succeed, learn, and excel academically. Why do we do what we do? Are you driven by outside factors like getting great grades, raising your GPA, or keeping a certain scholarship? Or are you motivated by external rewards, such as the approval of your parents, the satisfaction of scoring higher on a test than your friend, or going out for ice cream?
When you think about motivation in a teaching context, the question becomes- how do we cultivate and maintain student motivation? Where does motivation come from? These many important questions can be answered in Daniel Pink’s book “Drive,” as he explores the science behind what motivates us.
First, it’s important to define intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation. The graphic above does a great job at describing the difference between each kind of motivation, so give it a read! Daniel Pink applies these concepts as divides motivation into two “types” – Type I and Type X.
- When we are motivated by rewards and punishments, Type X behavior is the result. They are mainly fueled by extrinsic, or external, desires or rewards that an activity leads to.
- Type I behavior is higher level, intrinsically fueled motivation. They are more concerned with the inherent satisfaction of the activity itself, not the external rewards that come with an activity. Type I’s intrinsic motivation sustains them in the long run and their motivational resources are easily replenished.
The Main Idea – “nobody exhibits purely Type X or Type I behavior every waking minute of every living day without exception… Type I behavior is both born and made” (Pink pg. 76-77). So, don’t fret if you feel like you are more Type X! While Type I is the goal, intrinsic motivation in Type I needs to be grown and cultivated in the classroom. Here’s how we approach it!
Fostering Motivation – Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose
In Drive, Daniel Pink claims that the three main elements behind motivation are autonomy, mastery, and purpose. To increase motivation among students, these are the areas in which teachers should focus on developing!
“Type I behavior emerges when people have autonomy over the four T’s: their task, their time, their technique, and their team.”Daniel Pink, Drive pg. 92
Most of us know what it feels like to go through school and have little to no autonomy – the monotony of the school day includes following all the rules, doing the worksheets, following the teacher’s directions, and doing work and listening because it’s “going to be on the test.” However, this method is the opposite of autonomous, it’s compliance. Instead, provide students with opportunities to be inquisitive and have more control over their learning, then, their motivation to learn will be more self-directed and intrinsically driven.
Practical ways to implement an autonomous teaching approach:
- Use student-created classroom rules at the beginning of a semester. Have students set their own learning goals too!
- Offer students some autonomy over how and when they do homework or assignments (Pink pg. 186). Sometimes less structure and more freedom can lead to more engagement!
- Assign students concepts and have them take turn teaching what they’ve learned to their peers. Involve their own individual passions to direct their inquiry and learning.
Only engagement can produce mastery. Daniel Pink describes mastery as 3 things:
- Mastery is a mindset. Mastery is striving for improvement- in our abilities, knowledge, and understandings. Help students see the worth in mastering material. Not only does it lead to extrinsic rewards, but internal satisfaction to see growth in ourselves as we learn!
- Mastery is a pain. Mastery requires hard work, critical thinking, deliberate practice, and determination. Mastery isn’t developed overnight or after acing one test. However, the pain that it takes to master something is worth it in the long run!
- Mastery is an asymptote. Mastery, similar to learning, is a lifelong process, we may never fully realize it.
A few ways to develop mastery in the classroom would be to provide a variety of assessments for students to learn material (formative, summative, project-based, group work, etc.), emphasize the importance of practice, not perfection, and use pre-assessments and post-assessments before and after learning material so that students can see their own progress!
How will students have a desire to learn if they don’t understand the big picture of why the content is important or relevant to them? Helping students understand the PURPOSE of what they do in the classroom is essential to developing Type I behavior. I feel that this is the biggest piece that is often missing from modern-day classrooms!
Daniel Pink brings up “helping kids see the big picture” in the education system (Pink pg. 190). When school focuses on if-then rewards, students are blindly going through school without a clue of why they’re doing what they’re doing. When students can see how what they are learning is relevant to the world around them, whether it is relevant in nature, their career path, in their culture or workplace, they will start to apply what they learn. Exemplary teachers connect the classroom to the outside world!
The graphic above provides a quick recap to this blog and the essential ideas within Drive! Increasing intrinsic motivation in the classroom takes time and effort, but it’s not impossible. Motivating our students and teaching them how to be intrinsically motivated is one of the most essential things I believe we can teach them – motivation isn’t just for school, it’s for life!
Thanks for reading! Yours truly, Miss Creeden