An Interesting Perspective: Carrots and Sticks

Howdy bloggers,

In this week’s installment of An Interesting Perspective, we will dive into a discussion about Daniel Pink’s novel Drive.

What is motivation? By definition, motivation is the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. When applied to the classroom, motivation is the driving force that promotes students to learn.

There are two different types of motivators: Intrinsic and Extrinsic. When thinking about a traditional classroom setting, it is likely that extrinsic motivators come to mind. These include some sort of external reward, such as a grade, GPA, candy, etc. These types of motivators are important, but only if they are used in moderation.

Image result for extrinsic motivation

The lesser used intrinsic motivators are what really drives these students to learn, and ultimately, succeed. These motivators are prompted by internal rewards, such as a feeling of accomplishment. These motivators work because students are inspired to better themselves in a way that is unique to them. They have to want to learn the material.

Sounds strange, right? How can we get students to learn if they aren’t motivated by things such as grades? Well, the answer may be simpler than it seems. If students can control and take charge in their learning, they can motivate themselves to learn the material. This is because, simply, they want to learn.

What influences intrinsic motivation?


  • Allow students to make their own decisions regarding their learning. This will allow students to make the material as interesting to themselves as possible.
  • Allow for cooperative learning opportunities. This allows for students to feel like they are an integral part of the learning process.
  • Be there for your students. Provide structure for the assignments, but do not be overbearing. Scaffolding is vital.

Image result for breaking chains


  • Mastery is a Mindset. It is important for students to know that knowledge and intelligence is ever changing. With enough effort and support, any student can approach mastery.
  • Mastery is Pain. Approaching mastery is never easy. There are a lot of bumps and potholes along the way. Failure and setbacks are almost inevitable, but overcoming these are essential to approaching mastery.
  • Mastery is an Asymptote. Nobody can master 100% of what is known (or unknown). It is important to always challenge students to work towards greater and greater mastery.

Image result for asymptote


The purpose behind an assessment carries a lot of weight on a student’s motivation. Something that may be considered “busy work” will not motivate students to work towards mastery; however, an inquiry based project that allows students to explore the concepts they are most interested in will motivate students. This is because the project carries a significant purpose.

By incorporating autonomy, mastery, and purpose into a lesson, it allows students to become intrinsically motivated and promotes a better learning environment. With this said, extrinsic motivation is not always bad. There are some instances where extrinsic motivation is necessary. One cannot exist appropriately without the other.


  1. Hayley,
    I’m glad you took away the part about passion. It is true that passions are what drive our motivations. This passion allows for purpose to exist, which is one of the factors Daniel Pink points out in his book. Without purpose, it is nearly impossible for intrinsic motivation to occur. More specific examples would have likely helped the post. I’ll keep that in mind for future posts!

  2. Wow! Your blog is laid out very well and is organized in a very clear way. Although I didn’t incorporate it into my blog, I loved the asymptote metaphor in the book for mastery to show that there is always more to earn and room for growth. I love the quote you included that shows how passion drives people to do things. I haven’t seen the word “passion” connected to intrinsic motivation too frequently in blog posts even though it is a very significant connection. People (and students) that are passionate about certain things in life and it gives them purpose and drives them to motivate themselves without any outside influences. The rest of your graphics do a great job of encompassing the subtopics you described. Some specific examples or tips for the classroom would enhance your points about intrinsically motivated students. Great work!

  3. Shay,
    Purpose is so important! I totally agree that if an assignment is interesting, its content will be more memorable. Worksheets and “busy work” are so mundane and students aren’t able to remember most of it a couple days down the line. Making the assignment have purpose really allows students to be engaged in the learning and allows the material to stay with them.

  4. Meghan,
    More examples probably would have enhanced the post and given more clarity. I will be sure to work on that in the future. The media that stood out the most to me in this post was the image from Instagram. I thought it did a great job of embodying the overarching message that was presented throughout Drive.

  5. Your blog post is super easy to read and flows really well! I think you hit on all the important topics and wrote about them in a way that makes a lot of sense.
    My favorite portion of your blog was about purpose. A more interesting project will motivate students to complete it more than a worksheet, and will also help them get closer to mastery. When an assignment is memorable, the students are more likely to remember what the assignment was about.
    I also really like how you connect all of your blog posts by using the same basic subject line and greetings at the beginning of your posts! It really makes your blog seem friendly and inviting!

  6. Billy,
    I like how you incorporated the big points you got out of reading Drive!, and you found some great media to add to those points. I think it would really improve your blog post to talk a little more about when and why extrinsic motivators are okay. I also think some examples could enhance the points you mention. I like how you defined motivation and intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in the beginning of your post.

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