Improving Drive

As long as anyone can remember civilization has incorporated the carrot-stick rule to produce the effects that they want. We’re all familiar with it from, not doing well and getting kicked off the baseball team, to, working harder in projects and receiving a pay raise. Pretty familiar, but after picking up Daniel H. Pink’s New York Times bestseller Drive, I’ve come to realize that this method can be often more harmful than it is helpful. Humans doing something wrong? Big shocker, I know.

In Pink’s book we see how the addition of rewards promised takes away the value of the work performed. In multiple examples he shows how companies that take away control and give more freedom to how work is completed end up maximizing their yearly profit rather than businesses that follow traditional practices.

Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivation

The reason for this is because of the difference in how things motivate us.

Extrinsic Motivation stems from outside forces that aim to give you motivation so that certain tasks will be done such as:

  • Getting good grades which will get us into a good college
  • Receiving a pay raise at work for exceptional performance
  • receiving a gift card or other prizes for doing an amount of work

These are actually more harmful to productivity as they cull that inner or intrinsic motivation. Our intrinsic motivation is related more to how we feel and what we aim to accomplish through our work learning process. This is mostly why we do things whether it’s providing something to a community, to show off our skills and what we’ve practiced, because it is enjoyable and entertaining to us.

The problem with extrinsic motivation is that it actually decreases our motivation to do a task as it makes the task seem undesirable and if given a reward we’ll expect that reward every time until we burn out which makes a larger reward necessary. Not optimal for the motivator in the long run.

Practical Psychology
Failing Business

To keep motivation high we have to ask how do we substitute extrinsic motivation for intrinsic motivation? In our classrooms we may do this in a number of ways.

  • Pique the curiosity of our students
  • Make the student a participant in their education. What excites them to learn about in the ways of science. What are their goals to learn in their education experience?
  • Giving way to students so that they can brandish their creativity. Let them choose how they will complete assignments.
  • Give them the opportunity to present their newly gained knowledge. Teaching the class gives back to the community which was the intrinsic motivation. We like to show off and be recognized for it.

To incorporate intrinsic motivation into our lessons we have to make our students into active participants that engage in the knowledge we hope they obtain.

A recording from my favorite philosopher
Intrinsic Learning is filling our heads with knowledge and processes because we enjoy them


  1. Hi, Anthony! Thank you for sharing your thoughts within your blog. You stated that you would give them the opportunity to present their newly gained knowledge. What are ways you will allow your class to present this knowledge?

  2. Hi Anthony,

    I really enjoyed reading about your analysis of intrinsic motivation vs extrinsic motivation and how you tied it into a classroom setting. Do you have a specific lesson in mind (in your content area) that would promote a student’s intrinsic motivation? Do you think it would be hard to act upon this initially given how modern day classrooms are ran? How would you go about breaking those habits and expectations out of students that depend on extrinsic motivation?

  3. Hi Anthony!

    Thanks for sharing with us! The graphics that you chose to use in this post do an amazing job at showing what you are trying to get across–promoting intrinsic over extrinsic motivation in the classroom for our students will help them learn long term. I also like that you make the point in your post that extrinsic motivation is actually okay in the short term but it is likely not going to help learning and growth in the long term. Thus, we should try not to condition our students to always be seeking a foreseeable reward for doing something. To relate things back to Atomic Habits, those rewards come later and are often delayed.

  4. Hi Anthony!
    I really enjoyed reading your post! The application of Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, to the classroom is very well written. My only question about your response involves how to get your students to determine their chemistry goals? How will you go about introducing your students to setting their own academic goals?

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