DRIVE: What Keeps You Going?

Let me ask you a question: Why do you study?

Is it for the grades? Is it because your parents promised you the brand new iPhone if you get an A? Is it for your GPA so that you can get into your dream university? Is it because you have an exam tomorrow?

Or….. Is it because you want to grow as a person? Because you LOVE the feeling of finally understanding something after struggling to get the concept for so long?

Now, that’s the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

In this TED Talk by Daniel Pink, he explains how the old “carrot-and-stick” incentive analogy doesn’t work – or in some cases – does harm instead.

Mind-blowing, right? It’s crazy how it has been ignored for so long. As future educators, we should start changing how it is done in the classroom.

So How Do We Make That Change?

In order to drive our students with intrinsic motivation, there are three important key points to consider when planning for the classroom.

  • AUTONOMY: Giving the students the opportunity to make their own decisions
  • MASTERY: Allowing students to feel the urge to get better skills
  • PURPOSE: Inspiring them to do something meaningful and important


Here are some ways I plan to use in my own classroom:

  • Using a Different Award System: Pizza parties and early class dismissals can be great, but it will not motivate them to think OUT OF THE BOX. Award them with giving them opportunities to choose their next classroom activity, assessment etc.
  • POSITIVE Motivations: If students only study hard and do well in fear of you calling their parents, it will diminish their motivation to be creative, or even be genuinely interested in studying.
  • Giving Constructive Feedback: Instead of only assigning grades, giving constructive feedback for each assignment can be more helpful to students and “encourages” criticism. It also allows the students to work on their weaknesses and focus on their strengths.
  • Opportunity for Self-Directed Learning: Giving them opportunities to decide what they want to learn in relation to the curriculum – for example, if the topic is on climate change – they can choose a specific country or area they want to research the effects of global warming on.

Allow your students to feel the enjoyment in learning. Let them understand the purpose, be curious and feel the passion to LEARN!


  1. Hey Woojin,

    I really liked your post! I was wondering how you thought you might be able to work past giving grades, and provide constructive feedback instead. Or rather how you would break down the ideas they already have about bad grades.

  2. Hi Woojin! I enjoyed your blog. I think the way you questioned the reader on their own motivation was a great way to start off. It really makes you think about your own motivations, not just those you want your students to have. Do you think that providing different awards, such as choice in the classroom, is less harmful than any other award system? Why are awarding some awards different that rewarding other rewards?

    • Thank you! I think that using different award systems such as giving them choices in the classroom will ultimately encourage autonomy in the students and therefore it would be less harmful than using extrinsic award systems. I think the biggest difference would be that they would be trying to win something that greater benefit themselves in the long run and understand the meaning behind the awards, compared to just having short-term presents.

  3. Hi Woojin!
    I really enjoyed your post! I like your suggestions for to spark motivation such as avoiding pizza parties and using constructive criticism. Its so important to allow students to feel enjoyment in your classroom through the process of learning and to let them be curious! How do you plan on adjusting your students to this new learning style?

    • Thank you Caitlin! I definitely think that transitioning for the students into this new learning style would be hard, especially because the school system has been training them into “type x” students for so long. However, I think that the more I reinforce the idea that they are not learning to earn awards or just to be tested, they would start to actually enjoy learning and appreciate the art of learning. I plan to help the students adjust to this by reducing the number of “incentives” like grades or rewards over time and focus more on their improvement and effort.

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