- “For those of you who get A’s on the next exam, I’ll throw you a pizza party.”
- “If you make your bed everyday this week, I’ll pay you $10.”
- “If you aren’t home by 11pm, you can’t go out for the rest of this week.”
I’m sure these sentences above look familiar. These are examples of extrinsic motivation. We have all been extrinsically motivated many, many times throughout our lives. School being one of the biggest examples.
In our society, we stress the importance of grades, GPAs, and test scores. As sad as this is, students feel pressured to do well in school in order to be successful in the future. Our job as future educators is to steer the students’ mindsets away from extrinsic rewards and into intrinsic ones.
But first, what exactly is the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation?
Beth Hennessey, in the video below, discusses her research on how to set up classrooms in order to enhance motivation and creativity. She also talks about the importance of getting students intrinsically motivated.
The video discusses how, unfortunately, in the US, teacher’s motivation techniques are opposite of what they should be doing. They are promising students rewards, setting up expectations of evaluation, limiting choices and time, and breathing down the students’ necks.
So what should teachers be doing instead?!?
- Give students a choice
- Allowing students to decide how they want to learn, or what they want to learn will keep them excited and engaged in the classroom. If they enjoy how or what they are learning then they will stay motivated to grow as a student.
- Example: When learning a new topic ask students if they’d like to do an experiment, play a game, go outside and investigate, etc.
- Create a lesson free of grades
- Although society stresses the importance of grades for students, not all lessons have to be graded. A grade-free lesson will take the stress off the assignment and allow students to enjoy it much more.
- Play a game
- Incorporating games into lessons will help students tie course concepts together. Games present fun alternatives to otherwise mundane lessons. Besides, who doesn’t love winning a game?
- Examples: Jeopardy, charades, kahoot, etc.
As a teacher, if you can increase the motivation of your students intrinsically, they will feel encouraged to engage in exploration, participation, and effort because of curiosity and not extrinsic rewards.