Intrinsic, and Extrinsic Motivation

Here we go, with Blog #2 for my Motivation in Education Course. We have been looking at intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is when someone is motivated to do something because of internal reasons such as curiosity, personal interest, or other “feel good” reasons. This type of motivation can sort of be explained as doing something because you want to, with no outside influence. External motivation, on the other hand, is doing something for some sort of reward or payout. The person is completing the task because they “should”, they “have to” or to receive payment or accolades.

A major difference between the two forms of motivation are that something that was originally being done for extrinsic reasons has the ability to transform into something being done for intrinsic reasons if the individual has their interest peaked by the topic or experience. Meanwhile, sometimes the enjoyment of doing something for intrinsic reasons can be ruined by extrinsic rewards being introduced.

A personal anecdote is that when I was in middle school, we had an assigned project on Egyptian History. I had not had any prior interest in Egypt and felt the project would be tedious. I started out putting in minimal effort to receive the desired reward (a grade of C or higher). But, while working on the project, I discovered some books that had detailed sketches and photographs from early archeological expeditions in Egypt and I found myself interested. I continued to research and begged my parents to take me to museums to see their Egyptian displays long after my project was completed. This was an example of extrinsic motivation transforming into intrinsic motivation.

Another anecdote is regarding the opposite experience. I enjoyed playing basketball. I was good at it, and I played all the time after school and on weekends. Then, my parents persuaded me to try out for the school team. I made it. It was fun at first, but then the drills, the practice, and the competition became too much for me. There was no joy left for me. There was too much pressure, the coach and my parents were constantly pushing rewards and telling us things like “If you lose, or do not play well, you will run extra laps. If you win, or play well, you can have a pizza party”. I ended up hating the game. This was an example of intrinsic motivation (the fun of playing) being replaced by extrinsic motivation (not having to run extra laps, getting praise rather than being scolded, and the promise of a pizza party) resulting in loss of motivation.

Reading Reflections

Hidi & Renninger (2006)

In this article, we learned that teachers/instructors can be experts on topics that they are not individually interested in. They have to learn tactics to help them present the topic in a manner that interests their students and might be able to trigger genuine interest in them.

From personal experience home-schooling my kids/grandkids, I have discovered that delivery is everything! If I hype up the topic, and ask the kids what they think they will be learning, they have buy-in. They become invested in finding out what is going to happen.

Hulleman, Godes, Hendricks & Harackiewicz (2010)

In this article, there was a study to see how differently students would feel about a topic (math/chemistry) and their own ability to perform well in that subject if they were able to see the value of that subject through the way it would affect their futures.

It appears that if students do understand the value of a topic of study, they will be more invested in it. How much difference it makes is up for debate (in my opinion) as the way the study was conducted was by having the students do reflective writing exercises. Some students do not enjoy writing exercises. I was left wondering whether it be equally effective (or even more effective) to facilitate group or small group discussions to discover individual students’ connections to the course materials in their lives/future lives.

Motivating Students to Learn Textbook Chapter 5

After reading this chapter of our textbook, I was left with two questions. Would a class discussion about a topic that is about to be introduced help generate “triggered situational interest” by discussing what the students anticipate regarding the information? Also, would follow up discussions help maintain situational interest?

I have formed my own theory/opinion that it would. I find myself much more “drawn in” to topics when they are introduced in a discussion format. It is interesting to hear other’s thoughts and opinions, and to look inside myself to reflect on whether I agree, or if my opinion differs. I feel that for optimum learning, people need to engage and reflect. They need to think about what they are learning.

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