A drive down the road less traveled

A reflection on DRIVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

An introductory thought:

When you wake up in the morning and have a long to-do list, or a lot of work to do at school, what motivates you to power through and get it done? Is it a promotion and good grades? Or rather the sense of achievement and self-progress you’re making in your life? Your answer to this question may start to tell you something about your motivational behaviors and whether they are intrinsic or extrinsic.


Brief definitions:

EXTRINSIC motivation= A reward, demand, or obligation that requires the achievement of a goal.

INTRINSIC motivation= Striving towards a goal for the sole purpose of personal satisfaction or accomplishment; without the contribution of outside factor.

Type I Behavior:

-This term can be synonymous with “intrinsically motivated people”

-Fueled by intrinsic desires rather than extrinsic ones

-Concerned with the inherent satisfaction of the activity itself

-This behavioral pattern is not a fixed trait, but rather emerges from experience and circumstance

-This behavior will usually outperform those with extrinsic motivation in the long run

-It is inexpensive, safe, and endlessly renewable as a source of motivation

-Closely interrelated with the sens of autonomy, mastery, and purpose

-Can increase self-esteem and greater general well-being

-Uses recognition for accomplishments as a form of feedback, but the recognition itself is not a goal

*Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose*

Some examples of the importance of Type I behavior in everyday life:

Students appear to be participating in active learning methods that fit best for the students. Their participation and focus derives from an intrinsic desire to learn about something that interests them. Differentiated instruction is mentioned as a way to assure each student learns in a way that best fits their needs.

A relevant tweet to showcase the need for more Type I behavior in many aspects of society: school, work, art, science, etc.

In this article found linked in a tweet by an educator, the distinction that a reward-system in the classroom may not be beneficial for the “losers” or the “winners”. A principal that was interviewed included the overarching statement that encompasses the benefit of Type I behavior. Chris Wejr, elementary school principal said, “We hope that they continue to develop their best selves for their own benefit—not because someone tells them to or because there’s an award at the end of the year.”

The important connection is made here between intrinsic motivation and student ownership in learning!

Tips for the classroom: 

The general methods for increasing intrinsic motivation among your students are laid out in this article. They involve learning about you students interests, creating an inviting learning environment, and allowing for autonomy in the student’s work, and more.

Check out this blog post for more classroom examples of individual student goals and how they foster intrinsic motivation. The blog includes that a goal can focus more on the journey rather than the destination. Any progress a student makes should help them celebrate instances of perseverance and learning from their mistakes rather than just completing a task. –> Classroom Goal Setting for Intrinsic Motivation and Deeper Learning

***It would seem obvious that this is the superior and desired behavior for students in your classroom, but decreasing the extrinsic motivation can be a challenge in itself. This also doesn’t go to say that extrinsic rewards should be completely eradicated from the classroom, but finding the right method based on your student’s learning needs can be very effective.***

For more information, check out Daniel Pink’s book mentioned at the beginning of the blog for extended definitions and methods (linked below).

Referenced Book:

Pink, Daniel H. Drive: the Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us.                                                    Riverhead Books, 2012.

Purchase it here: DRIVE-The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.


  1. Hi Hayley!

    First off, I’d like to say that I absolutely LOVE your use of graphics. They add so much to the post, and they’re so easy to read and understand! I really enjoyed looking through those, and some of them are graphics that I’d actually like to keep around as a reminder. That being said, some thoughts on the content of your post: I really enjoyed your discussion of WHY Type I would be beneficial for the classroom! I think that you bring up excellent points as to the flaws of using extrinsic motivation all the time, and give really good insight with regards to the overall benefit of intrinsic motivation in the long run. I might add in something about the times it would be positive to use extrinsic motivation in the classroom; other than that, this post is great!

    • Hi Naomi, Thanks for your feedback!
      I feel like a lot of the graphics help reiterate the points of motivation in school especially in the student ownership tweet by Jeff Hiser. I think it would be good to include more on extrinsic motivation and its proper place in the classroom but I’m still trying to understand it better myself. I really resonated with the ideas of Type I behavior because I personally struggle with branching away from the extrinsic motivators in school and in life. I am mainly motivated by grades and doing things that I know my parents will approve of. That isn’t always a bad thing but I really feel like I should invest more in things I am more passionate about.

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