Candy Isn’t Always the Answer

Think about your life and what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning. Normally, people say that money, possessions, and success make them motivated. The promise of a reward is a completing goal, but is nothing new. It has been the ultimate motivator for many years, especially in education. Extrinsic motivation is driven by external rewards. This can be in the form of external rewards the following:

  • Candy
  • No homework
  • Extra credit
  • Dropping  a grade
  • Leaving class early

These extrinsic motivation can be used rarely in the classroom to motivate students. Intrinsic motivation is a better motivator in the classroom for many reasons. This type of motivation comes from within. Intrinsic motivation is motivation with an internal reward. Motivating students through intrinsic motivation makes them want to learn more. The following statements are why intrinsic motivation is important:

  • It creates a student centered classroom
  • Promotes mastery, rather than performance
  • Provides learning goals for the students
  • Realistic and high expectations for students
  • Promotes creativity
  • Students feel accomplished

Autonomy is important in motivating students:

The idea of autonomy can help students direct their own learning because it is a form of self-government. This allow students to do what they want with their learning. I think that all students come into my classroom with prior-knowledge. They have their own ideas and experiences to give to the rest of the class. This allows for diversity. Having different ideas in the classroom will allow students to learn from each other. They are able to use cooperative learning to enhance their learning in the classroom because they add their own ideas to what we are learning.

Purpose in the classroom:

Purpose in the classroom goes beyond the test. The purpose of teaching is to advance the students knowledge of themselves and the world around them. Students need to feel like what they are doing is important. This is why I want to make sure students use their prior knowledge and build upon it so that they become more well rounded.


Mastery is never achieved. It is a process in which people continue to learn. I want my students to be intrinsically motivated to want to learn more. They should be asking questions and they should be curious about the world around them. Allowing students to take learning into their own hands, they are able to tap their intrinsic learning.

Overall, I think that a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic learning are important to have in the classroom. Students should want to learn more about the world around them. They should be able to explore what they are interested in. I think that a healthy balance between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is perfect in a classroom setting.


  1. Katin,
    I like the examples for how people typically extrinsically motivate students, and why we should use more intrinsic rewards. The images and videos were good for tying your ideas together and reinforcing them! My favorite image is the cartoon, as it shows exactly what we should be thinking about when using extrinsic rewards, but they are rarely presented into words. The use of Dan Pink’s TEDTalk was great, it showed a bunch of his thoughts and ideas in his book presented by him. Excellent blog!

    • Dillon,

      Thanks for you nice comment! I think that having examples of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in the classroom was an important aspect in my blog. It helps us use our own experiences and realize if our teachers used intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. I also thought adding Pink’s talk was a good way to summarize his book and help tie his ideas into my blog.


  2. I really like your title! It’s a sad truth that a lot of today’s teachers rely too much on candy, grades, and other forms of instant-gratification extrinsic rewards. Both videos you included did an awesome job of showing your argument’s points. I also liked how you explained not only what each of the aspects of intrinsic motivation are but also how they can be implemented in the classroom. Awesome job!

    • Aesa,

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I agree that some teachers use extrinsic rewards (like candy) to “motivate” their students. What they do not realize is that they are hurting the students want to learn and in turn cause students success and mastery down. Candy can be used in moderation though!


  3. Katin,
    Your post was very well structured. It hits on all the main point of Drive, but doesn’t go over the top. It was easy to follow and provided enough depth so the audience could really understand the concepts that were being promoted in the novel.
    The thing I liked most about the post was your supplemental materials. The first image you start out with was really powerful. I think it does a great job of really summing up the meat and potatoes of the book, and it does it in such a powerful way.
    The diagrams you included were really informative. They did a great job of really breaking down and showing visually what intrinsic motivation is and how it differs from extrinsic motivation.
    Lastly, the video you included was great. I actually almost included a segment of that into my post as well. It does, again, a great job of really allowing you to see those motivators and how important they are.

    • Billy,

      Thank you for your comment! I tried to sum up the Pink’s book and our class discussions. I wanted to keep it short and sweet though. I though the pictures and video did a good job at supporting the main concepts in the book. I wanted to make sure my reader understood the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and how they play a role in the classroom.


  4. Katin,
    I really enjoyed reading your blog post this week! I think that all of your graphics and Ted Talk tie in with the subject really well. Your list of reasons about intrinsic motivation are all great and make total sense based on Pink’s book. Intrinsic motivation is so important in education. By helping your students feel intrinsically motivated, you will help them want to get closer to mastery.
    The Ted Talk you included with this blog post is absolutely perfect! It is by the author and pretty much explains exactly what you were discussing in your blog post!

    • Shay,

      Thank you for your comment! I wanted to stress how important using intrinsic motivation was. It is the key to fostering a want to learn in the classroom. Without it, students will not enjoy what they are doing. I wanted to add the talk by Pink because I though he summarized the main point in his book and my blog.


  5. Katin, I love how you have organized your blog here. You start out by giving examples of the wrong things people are using to motivate themselves and their students in the classroom. Then you proceed to explain how a classroom should be and what motivates us. It is also great hearing the words of Dan Pink and hearing him expand on what he wrote in his book.

    • Tom,

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment! I though it was important to compare the two types of motivation. I also enjoyed watching the Pink video!


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