Monday, December 30, 2013

Motivation (Intrinsic & Extrinsic)

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During my undergraduate years, I remember taking a psychology course and within this course, I still remember learning about the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.  The topic still intrigues me and I'm always drawn to articles related.  

Motivation.  According to Psychology Today, "Motivation is literally the desire to do things."

There are two types of motivation:
1: Intrinsic Motivation.  It is that inner desire or drive that makes you do something because you want to because you enjoy it or are interested in it.  You doing something for the sake of doing it and not for anything or anyone else, but doing something for you. 


2: Extrinsic Motivation.  Doing something for an external or tangible reason, ie helping another person out because s/he asked, working to earn money, or acting on something for a praise or encouragement.  Extrinsic motivation is doing something and seeking something in return.  
Now, yes, we all act for both intrinsic and extrinsic reasons, but today I came across another article regarding praise.  Praise is an extrinsic motivation that educators use daily.  There is a right and wrong way to praise as an extrinsic motivator.

As a teacher, I'm all about intrinsic motivation within students.  How?  Strangely enough, encourage students extrinsically (to a certain degree) in hopes to achieve the intrinsic motivation within themselves.  To feel proud of their work and act on their own without always searching for a tangible or verbal reward from others.  When I praise my students, it's about acknowledging a specific effort, as opposed to just a "Good job."  Good job to what?  Be specific.  If a child reads 10 books, state the fact that the child read TEN books!  If a child drew a beautiful picture, comment on what you like about the picture.

I prefer praise to be specific, but I also prefer praise to be minimal and/or random and unexpected.  Sometimes I reward my students with ClassDojo (see the ClassDojo post) positive points or other external rewards (lunch with teacher, bring a stuff animal to class, etc.) for doing good, other times I don't, even if they did something good (hence the "to a certain degree" comment).  I often tell them "Sometimes you get rewarded, sometimes you don't; do you feel good about what you did?"  They always respond with, "Yes."  I smile and simply say, "Okay." 

I often hear them tell each other, "It's okay, sometimes you get rewarded, sometimes you don't."  

I like to keep them on their toes.  Will intrinsic motivation grow and resonate with them?  I will be biased and brag and say that my students are the kindest and will do things for others on their own.  Intrinsically motivated?  I hope so.  :)

What do you think?  What's your take on motivation these days?  How do you motivate your students?

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