Intrinsic Motivation of Learners

One of the areas that I am trying to focus on lately is the focus on intrinsic motivation of teacher learners.  As someone who helps to design professional learning experiences and for my work on my Gamification of Teacher Professional Learning Project (Project Falcon), it is important to understand how we can improve the motivation when it comes to our learners.

In his book, Drive, Daniel Pink goes over the different types of motivation.  Motivation 1.0 was the motivation to survive and served us well for many years.  Motivation 2.0 dealt more with rewards and punishments, which was very effective for low-level tasks during the industrial periods.  Nowadays when we are mostly dealing with more creative tasks that require higher levels of thinking, and more creativity, the old carrot-and-stick methods of the past do not improve motivation.  Motivation 3.0 is focused on intrinsic motivation which  plays a much bigger role nowadays than the older forms of motivation.  Rewards and punishments do not help, they actually hinder, work when we are doing more than low-level tasks.

Most teachers get into the profession not because of the pay or for summers, but for the bigger rewards we get by helping students.  Small improvements to pay or firm restrictions and guidelines do nothing to improve their motivation.  It has to be a systemic approach that focuses on improving and supporting intrinsic motivation that matters.  We have to look at everything we do and decide if it will help or hinder intrinsic motivation of our adult learners.

The same can be said when it comes to our classroom design and whether that helps or hinders motivation of students.  We are trying to ask our students to do more and to go beyond the low-level tasks of old,  we strive for higher levels on Bloom’s Taxonomy and we focus on the 4C’s (creation, creativity, collaboration, communication), but we still have policies in place that would appear to hinder intrinsic motivation of students.  The grading systems and homework policies are prime places to look in order to remove the carrot-and-stick issues in order to focus on learning as a reward.  0’s in the gradebook and strict policies do not increase motivation, or teach responsibility, but they are far too common in today’s classroom.  These all would seem to go agains the research that Daniel Pink provides in his book.

How can we improve the environments, for both our students and teachers, in order to support and grow intrinsic motivation?

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