Thursday, March 31, 2016

Helping Students Achieve Through Intrinsic Motivation

by Kathy Mahoney


I recently finished a graduate course in student motivation, and one of the biggest take-aways that I gained is the importance of building intrinsic motivation in young people. Many times as parents and teachers, we provide incentives in order to motivate our kids to learn. In the short term this may produce the desired goal, but in the long run, it builds extrinsic motivation, or motivation that stems from some type of tangible reward. The problem is that when students are solely motivated by extrinsic means, they can become less driven when the promise of a reward is gone.

Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, comes from within; it is a desire to work hard for personal satisfaction and growth. This is a much more powerful way to drive achievement and learning. Teachers can help to build intrinsic motivation by celebrating learning, rather than offering a reward. Another way to engage students is to make the lesson meaningful to the child. Both teachers and parents can build intrinsic motivation in kids by welcoming their questions, encouraging exploration, and providing a supportive environment that promotes independence and self-worth.

As humans, we have a natural desire to learn about the world around us. If we can foster that desire, we can help students reach higher and achieve more.

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