What is Intrinsic Motivation? How do we inspire it in our students?

What is Intrinsic Motivation? And how do we inspire it in our students?

Motivation can be as diverse as people themselves.  Causes and effects of motivation are also multi-faceted.  What motivates you may be totally opposite to what motivates others.

When we finally achieve motivation at times it’s short lived because it’s the wrong stimulus to produce lasting results.  Stimuli can come from deep inside the mind and soul or be strictly the possibility of being rewarded.

Intrinsic motivation comes from inside a person rather than from an external source.  He or she is motivated by the sheer pleasure of a task or the sense of satisfaction of working on a task and its eventual completion.  It doesn’t matter if there is a physical reward.

If a person is intrinsically motivated he works on a problem or job simply because it’s enjoyable.

Some students are intrinsically motivated and enjoy the research and homework for the love of learning and not for the grade they’ll receive.  Such motivation usually results in excellent grades.

In everyday life, a good example is a person who works a crossword puzzle, a word jumble or a jigsaw puzzle.  They enjoy the challenge of learning and achieving knowing that when the puzzle is complete there will be no reward other than self-satisfaction, which is enough.

How do we inspire intrinsic motivation in our students?

Extensive research has shown that intrinsic motivation is merely described as what people will do just for the love of doing it.  They’re not working on the task or job to receive any form of external inducement.

Factors that promote intrinsic motivation are basically challenge, control, curiosity, fantasy, cooperation, competition and recognition.

Challenge allows a person to work toward a meaningful goal.

Control allows one to control what happens to them.

Curiosity stimulates the desire to learn about something.

Fantasy turns learning into a game by using mental images rather than things actually present.

Competition lets a person feel satisfaction by comparing their performance to others.

Cooperation and recognition bring satisfaction and appreciation from others to the motivator.

We can help inspire intrinsic motivation in our students by allowing for these six factors in our classrooms and lessons. We can tailor some (dare I say “all?”) of our lessons to align with these ways of promoting intrinsic motivation in our students.

Making personal connections with our students (“How was your volleyball game last night?” “I saw you won the art competition!”) also helps us tailor lessons to students’ interests.

Ditch the textbook whenever possible. If you are required to teach a unit about sports, who says you have to follow the textbook’s plans? Why not poll your students and find out which sports they are interested in (or interested in learning more about) and create a unit based on their input?

Start using IPAs (Integrated Performance Assessments) to assess your students’ knowledge. Learn more about IPAs from Sra. Shaw. IPAs definitely give students the sense of satisfaction of working on a task and its eventual completion and they can continue to be motivated by the gains they make in their language acquisition.

What about you? What would you add to this list of ways to help students achieve intrinsic motivation? Please comment below!



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