Using Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivation to Motivate Students. - Renaissance Australia
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Using Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivation to Motivate Students.

Elementary students looking at teacher, over shoulder view


By: Jovana Cupac

Have you ever stood in front of your class and watched, being able to identify the exact point at which a particular student ‘zones out’ and starts drifting off into the sunset? Keeping students focused and engaged in the classroom can be quite challenging in today’s fast-paced world. Teachers are continually exploring new ways to motivate and encourage students. What approaches to intrinsic or extrinsic motivation work best? Can they work together to build greater levels of engagement? Let’s take a look!

What is intrinsic motivation?

Personal satisfaction is the major influencer when it comes to intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is motivation from within, doing something ‘just because’ you want to, with no expectation in return. For example, a student may pick up a book and read it because it makes them ‘feel good’, rather than being told to read the book to increase their reading range.

What is extrinsic motivation?

Extrinsic motivation is motivation from external sources, for example, when a student does something with the intention to earn a reward or avoid a punishment. Extrinsic motivation is usually used within classrooms to encourage students to actively engage in their learning. For example, a student has an assessment and studies for it to get a good grade. A student does this not because they find it satisfying but rather to get a good result and obtain praise or reward.

How can Renaissance help teachers to support students develop intrinsic and extrinsic motivation?

Renaissance focuses on providing insight-driven reading and math practice to motivate, engage, and inspire every learner. This data informed practice enables teachers to provide the ‘just right’ level of challenge, allowing students to succeed and receive praise or reward. The great thing about extrinsic motivation is that it continually encourages students to continue to ‘do better’, guiding them as they progress along their learning journey.

Although extrinsic motivation can be a great tool, it can be a better when partnered with intrinsic motivation!

As previously mentioned, intrinsic motivation comes from within, therefore it is important for teachers to encourage students to develop their own intrinsic motivation. Here are a few ideas to help create an environment to encourage your students develop their own motivation.

  • Encourage students to read widely.

Encourage students to read texts that interest them, this may include reading their favourite magazine, newspaper, online blog or favourite book. By reading books that students do not feel pressured to be assessed on, but rather read out of interest can encourage development of their intrinsic motivation. 

  • Student set goals.

Goal setting is important skill for students to have. It helps them learn how to set, track and achieve their goals, setting them up to succeed outside of school. When a goal is achieved, the sense of accomplishment comes with it.. Although this initially provides students with extrinsic motivation over time, students grow to love this feeling, which encourages a growth mindset over time. Eventually, they come to view their growth and development as the reason to set and achieve their goals.

  • Let students choose their books!

Teacher/student relationships can really blossom when a teacher shows enthusiasm about what students are reading, and guides students to stretch their comfort zone, perhaps by suggesting a slightly harder book about a topic the student loves. Star Reading provides students with a Reading Range allowing them to explore hundreds of titles that provide a challenge at the right level for them. This makes available a wide variety of books to choose from, where they can explore their topics of interest. This is a great way to encourage students to find their own way and learn the power of independent motivation.

To build more student success, both during school and after requires a teacher/student relationship built upon guiding students’ interests and willingness to actively participate, taking responsibility for their own learning. For teachers, it becomes about effective management of their motivation, setting personalised goals to help students build a growth mindset and letting students take more ownership of their outcomes.

How do you use intrinsic/extrinsic motivation in the classroom? Let us know what strategies you use to motivate your students!

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