1. Rate This Idea
      1 votes
      When working with difficult students we often turn to a system of extrinsic learning motivation.

      So what is extrinsic motivation?
      Extrinsic motivation is defined as, "when motivation comes from outside, such as performing for money or awards."

      While this may fix the situation for a short while, I find that behaviours often regress when the rewards are withdrawn. Therefore I recommend moving to a system of intrinsic motivation as soon as possible.

      What is intrinsic motivation?
      Intrinsic motivation is defined as, "motivation based on taking pleasure in an activity rather working towards an external reward."

      Other definitions of Intrinsic Motivation
      • "Intrinsic motivation occurs when we act without any obvious external rewards. We simply enjoy an activity or see it as an opportunity to explore, learn, and actualize our potentials."
        (Coon & Mitterer, 2010)
      • "Intrinsic motivation refers to the reason why we perform certain activities for inherent satisfaction or pleasure; you might say performing one of these activities in reinforcing in-and-of itself."
        (Brown, 2007)
      Why use Intrinsic Rewards and Motivation?
      Researchers have discovered that offering external rewards for an already internally rewarding activity can actually make the activity less intrinsically rewarding. Why? "A person's intrinsic enjoyment of an activity provides sufficient justification for their behavior," explains author Richard A Griggs in his text Psychology: A Concise Introduction. "With the addition of extrinsic reinforcement, the person may perceive the task as over-justified and then attempt to understand their true motivation (extrinsic versus intrinsic) for engaging in the activity."

      Experts also suggest that people are more creative when they are intrinsically motivated. In work settings, productivity can be increased by using extrinsic rewards such as bonuses, but the actual quality of the work performed is influenced by intrinsic factors. If you are doing something that you find rewarding, interesting, and challenging, you are more likely to come up with novel ideas and creative solutions.

      Motivation to Learn
      Intrinsic motivation is an important topic in education, as teachers and instructional designers strive to develop learning environments that are intrinsically rewarding. Unfortunately, many traditional paradigms suggest that most students find learning boring so they must be extrinsically goaded into educational activities. Malone and Lepper (1987) suggest that this need not be the case and identify several different ways to make learning environments that are intrinsically rewarding.

      Malone and Lepper define activities as intrinsically motivating if "people engage in it for its own sake, rather than in order to receive some external reward or avoid some external punishment. We use the words fun, interesting, captivating, enjoyable, and intrinsically motivating all more or less interchangeably to describe such activities."

      The factors that they identify as increasing intrinsic motivation are
      • Challenge: People are more motivated when they pursue goals that have personal meaning, that relate to their self-esteem, when performance feedback is available, and when attaining the goal is possible but not necessarily certain.
      • Curiosity: Internal motivation is increased when something in the physical environment grabs the individual's attention (sensory curiosity) and when something about the activity stimulates the person to want to learn more (cognitive curiosity).
      • Control: People want control over themselves and their environments and want to determine what they pursue.
      • Cooperation and Competition: Intrinsic motivation can be increased in situations where people gain satisfaction from helping others and also in cases where they are able to compare their own performance favorably to that of others.
      • Recognition: People enjoy having their accomplishment recognized by others, which can increase internal motivation.
      Four T's of Autonomy in Learning
      1. Task - Is there a degree of open endedness about the task?
      2. Time - Is the deadline flexible or a limit to the length of the activity?
      3. Technique - Does the task offer alternative ways to complete?
      4. Team - Do pupils have a choice in who will be in their group?
      Some tips when using Intrinsic Learning Motivation
      • Do not praise for an easy task - It lowers student's self esteem and perception of their ability.
      • Reward is most effective when it's contingent on attaining a specified activity.
      • Make any reward (praise) contingent on successful achievement of specific performance goals.
      • "Unnecessary rewards sometimes carry hidden costs. Most people think that offering tangible rewards will boost anyone's interest in an activity. Actually, promising children a reward for a task they already enjoy can backfire. In experiments, children promised a payoff for playing with an interesting puzzle or toy later play with the toy less than do children who are not paid to play. It is as if the children think, 'If I have to be bribed into doing this, then it must not be worth doing for its own sake.'"
        (Myers, 2005)
      • "The functional significance, or salience, of the event dictates whether intrinsic motivation is facilitated or diminished. For example, an athlete may perceive receiving an external reward (e.g., money, trophy) as a positive indicator of her sport competence (informational), whereas another athlete may perceive the same reward as coercion to keep her involved in the activity (controlling). Thus, the aspect of the event that is perceived as salient will determine level of autonomy and perceived competence experienced, and ultimately affect intrinsic motivation for that activity."
        (Horn, 2008)
      I therefore make the following recommendations for educators to consider when planning, delivering and assessing learning activities;
      1. The teacher considers the possibilities of a phased replacement of extrinsic motivation with intrinsic motivation.
        - This can be achieved by raising the expectation for rewards and encouraging more reflective learning. For assistance with questioning, see Intrinsic Motivation: reflective learning development questions
      2. The teacher considers the factors that increase intrinsic motivation opportunities (above).
      3. The teacher does not praise pupils for simple tasks (e.g. capital letters and full stops).
      4. The teacher respects and discusses the negative feelings that may be generated by some activities.
      5. The teacher encourages the pupil's to begin self assessing and to discuss reflective learning questions with talk partners on their tables.
        - Activity to do recommendation 5: Print, laminate and cut out the question cards (below) with enough to give pupils one between 2. Ask them to spend two minutes asking their partner the relevant questions on the cards at each stage of the lesson. (Questions for starter, main and plenary).
        [Download Questions]
      This should provide all educators with the right advice to ensure a system where all children are able to gain some intrinsic rewards for making progress in their learning.


      Brown, L. V. (2007). Psychology of motivation. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
      Cherry, Kendra. About. http://psychology.about.com/od/motivation/f/intrinsic-motivation.htm. <<Accessed 06.10.2013>>
      Coon, D. & Mitterer, J. O. (2010). Introduction to psychology: Gateways to mind and behavior with concept maps.Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
      Griggs, R. A. (2010). Psychology: A concise introduction. New York: Worth Publishers.
      Horn, T. S. (2008). Advances in sport psychology. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
      Malone, T. W. & Lepper, M. R. (1987). Making learning fun: A taxonomy of intrinsic motivations for learning. In R. E. Snow & M. J. Farr (Eds.), Aptitude, learning, and instruction: III. Conative and affective process analysis. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
      Myers, D. (2005). Exploring psychology, Sixth edition in modules. New York: Worth Publishers.
    2. Teaching Idea Author , Find all ideas by Ferdinand
  • Loading...