Innovation in Motivation: Part Two

Welcome back to the ClassRealm blog, the best (and only) blog about ClassRealm, the up-and-coming classroom management tool built by teachers and gamers alike. In Part One of Innovation in Motivation I briefly touched on why gamers play games and how the gaming mentality applies to many students in this day and age. Today I’ll be talking about the epic battle between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Let’s get to it.

Intrinsic Motivation is motivation that comes from within, hence the prefix “in”. It’s motivation that is driven by your enjoyment of the activity and not to achieve some physical reward or outcome. Confidence is a huge part of intrinsic motivation, if you aren’t confident you probably aren’t accomplishing a task purely out of enjoyment.  Students who have intrinsic motivation are those who want to learn simply to gain knowledge, as opposed to getting good grades. It is hard to find students who have intrinsic motivation in grades K-12, not to say they don’t exist. This being said, all teachers should strive to make their students intrinsic learners.

Extrinsic motivation is motivation that is influenced by external outcomes. External rewards include report cards, trophies, money, and not getting in trouble. One does things, not because they enjoy it, but because they want a specific outcome. Sadly, most people in the world are pushed by extrinsic motivation when it comes to their jobs. They do it simply to get the money and buy what they need to live. Most (not all) students are also pushed by extrinsic motivation. They work hard, show up on time and are kind to others because it will ultimately pay off with that perfect report card, a compliment from the teacher, or the admiration of classmates. Many believe extrinsic motivation leads to overjustification, the mentality students can get when they believe they should be rewarded for everything they do. Overjustification can lead to a severe lack of intrinsic motivation in the future, though not all extrinsic motivation causes this.

So. Intrinsic good. Extrinsic bad. Right? Not entirely. Although ultimately I want my students to become intrinsic learners, the thought that they will reach that mental state on their own is unrealistic. Students are shaped by the world around them. Their parents, their teachers, their friends – all factors that affect who they are and who they become. I believe students need an extrinsic push, one that promotes knowledge as well as gives students their desired outcome. In my mind extrinsic motivation can lead to intrinsic motivation over time.

Example Number One – When I was little I would read books for school assignments and in the summer because there was a reading program at my local library where one could win prizes for completing books. I read because I wanted a good outcome, an A on my report card or an awesome prize from the library. Eventually I realized that I didn’t care so much about the prizes and grades and that reading could open my mind to new worlds (and other cliché phrases you see on posters). To this day the majority of my reading is for enjoyment, but I may have never gotten to this point had it not been for the extrinsic factors dealing with reading.

Example Number Two – I ran track in middle school, high school, and college. Why did I run? I wanted to beat the other kids! I wanted to get medals and ribbons!  Track has brought me years of teamwork, friendship and priceless memories, but that’s not why I wanted to run originally. As time progressed running became more about the enjoyment I felt than the medals I received. I don’t run competitively any more, but I still run. I run because it makes me happy.

Does ClassRealm offer extrinsic motivation? Yes, it does. Is that a bad thing? No, it isn’t. Extrinsic motivation can be used for good. It can be used to point students in the right direction early on in life. As students mature, their minds are able to grasp new concepts, subconscious concepts like the fact that learning is its own reward. We just need to push them there. This is why ClassRealm, although full of extrinsic motivation, is about the quest for knowledge. Putting students on the right path isn’t hard, you just have to give them the right map.

One Comment on "Innovation in Motivation: Part Two"

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