Developing intrinsic motivation in students is not an easy task, especially since students come from different backgrounds. However, that does not overrule the benefits/importance, as students who have intrinsic motivation are much more likely to be lifetime learners and achieve better. To make it easier, here are some strategies to help you build intrinsic motivation in students. But before we explore these strategies, let’s briefly explain what intrinsic motivation in students entails and the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
What is Intrinsic motivation?
Intrinsic motivation is the inner desire to engage in something because it is enjoyable instead of doing it specifically for a reward. In education, this means students being motivated to study and engage because it interests them, rather than simply completing an assignment to have good grades. Students that have intrinsic motivation are often setting themselves up for success academically and throughout their adult lives.
Difference Between Intrinsic And Extrinsic Motivation
Intrinsic motivation occurs when students are engaged because of internal rewards, like a genuine love for learning or interest in a subject. This helps students learn value for its own merits, regardless of any external factors. An example of intrinsic motivation is a student learning new vocabulary words because he/she loves to read or write.
While extrinsic motivation is learning due to external factors. Students may be motivated to learn to pass a test, to gain a reward, or to avoid punishment. An example of extrinsic motivation is students studying so their parents will not punish them for poor grades. However, most children lose engagement after being externally rewarded. This suggests that extrinsic motivation is short-term and can lead students away from an inherent love of learning. As a teacher, you can prevent this by prioritizing intrinsically motivated learning in the classroom.
How to Encourage Intrinsic Motivation in Students
The benefits of choosing intrinsic motivation over extrinsic motivation are clear, but it is not always easy to know where to start. When it comes to the classroom, here are a few strategies that you can use to make your students develop an interest in a subject/concept.
Focus on content mastery
Young school children are highly motivated when their teachers prioritize content mastery and understanding over high test scores. Although tests can be a great way to measure students’ progress, try to focus on helping them understand the concepts they find difficult. As they spend more time learning, they will have the zeal to turn their weaknesses into strengths and gain interest in learning beyond test scores.
Encouraging students to keep a personal journal helps develop their writing skills and helps them gain mastery of their personality – what they like and dislike. The more students get to know themselves, the easier it is for them to become intrinsically motivated in tasks that reflect their strengths and interests.
Ensure class material is relevant to students
Students are also more likely to be motivated if class material is relevant to their lives and involves their interests. And the best way to make your curriculum relevant to your students is to know them. Spend time understanding their needs. For example, if you have students who love animals, you can ask them to draw their favorite animals or create a math problem that involves counting cartoon animals. And be flexible in your assignments, so students can spend some time focusing on what they find interesting.
Utilize online learning
21st Century education is mostly centered on tech. Online learning can encourage intrinsic motivation. In part, this is because online learning often requires some level of independence—and independent learning can also produce intrinsically motivated students. You can consider making some of your curricula online or including some independent learning activities, like reading or personal project time.
Introduce role models
Introducing role models can help inspire young children to work harder and achieve their goals. You could also provide inspirational documentaries that relate to their dreams individually.
Be kind with your feedback
One of the easiest ways to motivate your students is to be seasoned in your speech. Give your students constructive criticism (if they perform poorly) laced with positive words as feedback on their assignments to encourage them and assure that they can do better.
Extend your enthusiasm for the subject to students
Always share your love for a subject or concept with your students. Let them see that you love teaching a particular subject because it interests you. You could also state the reasons behind your preference. If you show why you love learning/teaching, your students are more likely to catch your enthusiasm, too.
Allow students to make choices within the classroom
When students are allowed to participate in their learning, they perceive classroom activities as more important. Hence, increasing their intrinsic motivation for putting in effort and getting more interested in learning. For example, if you need students to write an essay on a literature book, list five relevant books and let them choose the one they want to read and write on. This way, they have the freedom to make their own decision based on their preferences, which should spark intrinsic motivation for the assignment.