There is a vast amount of research which has demonstrated that intrinsic motivation leads to greater creativity and productivity than extrinsic motivation. And yet most schools and businesses primarily use carrots and sticks such as grades, money and fear of failure to motivate their students and employees.
External motivators are frequently used for both students and teachers. External rewards and punishments sometimes work well when people are attempting to complete simple tasks and problems. They do not work as well for tasks that require critical and creative thinking which our students will need to obtain and maintain a good job.
When students are motivated from within to learn they awaken inner qualities which are needed for success in school, career and life. These qualities include resilience, determination, courage, ability to focus, self-discipline and the ability to overcome procrastination.
How can educators help students to generate intrinsic motivation? According to research studies reviewed by Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, there are three elements which are an important part of intrinsic motivation. These elements are autonomy (desire to be self-directed), mastery (desire to learn and improve at something that matters to us) and purpose (desire to serve a cause larger than ourselves).
What can educators do to help students to generate intrinsic motivation? The following types of assistance can help:
When students are interested in achieving a particular goal then the motivation to pursue it will come from within them. Their interests and natural abilities can become a starting point for learning if they see how the school work is relevant to their lives. This will bring out their best qualities which they will need to be successful in school, in their careers and in their lives.
Pink, Daniel. Drive: The Surprising truth About What Motivates Us. Penquin Group. New York 2009.
Copyright 2013. Raymond Gerson
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Raymond Gerson is an adjunct professor of college and career readiness/success courses for Austin Community College. He is the author of two textbooks on these subjects which are being used in both high schools and colleges. He also trains high school teachers how to teach these strtegies to their students. For more information you can go to: