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.
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.
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.