Extrinsic Motivation

Within the classroom settings, psychologists have identified two different forms of motivation. Intrinsic motivation involves an inherent desire or interest to pursue a topic of learning (Reiss, 2012). On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is desire drawn from outside of the individual and involves things such as rewards, better grades, instructor encouragement, or praise, among others. Ideally, teachers use extrinsic motivation to encourage children who avoid challenges to work more hard to achieve learning goals within their reach. For instance, sometimes students may be slow when transitioning from playtime to class time and end up consuming a lot of time in between. The teacher could come up with a reward system, where students who get to the classroom within the shortest time possible are rewarded with points that can be rewarded for sweets or snacks.

Unfortunately, extrinsic motivation works, it should not be misused. Instead, it is essential to use the right type and with the correct frequency for maximum benefit. Normally, when extrinsic motivation is not handled right, students are likely to develop learned helplessness. Ideally, extrinsic motivation could lead to learned helplessness as students may only work hard because there is a reward at the end of the learning goals. When rewards are withdrawn, they may start feeling that any effort made is fruitless, so they fail to put effort hard academic tasks or activities.

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Developing Intrinsic Motivation

When using extrinsic motivation, the reasoning behind it is that the measures will help motivate the student to put in the extra effort. However, as Deci & Ryan, 2013) notes, intrinsic motivation produces more strong and lasting motivation because students are convinced from within to work hard for their learning goals. Teachers can help students develop intrinsic motivation through various ways such as creating a learner-centered instructional setting where students are encouraged to work in activities that are interesting and addresses their needs and interests. The teacher should also focus on a mastery goal, and not a performance goal. As Deci & Ryan highlights, when students are motivated to master something, they put more effort in their learning. Along with that, teachers should focus on encouraging students’ actions and not their character, as well as setting high but realistic goals for the learners. By doing this, the teacher ensures that students’ are intrinsically motivated and not only extrinsically motivated.


Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2013). Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behavior. Boston, MA: Springer US.

Reiss, S. (2012). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation. Teaching of Psychology, 39(2), 152-156.

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