How to Promote Intrinsic Motivation in the Classroom

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Intrinsic motivation is the desire to take on a task simply because it is enjoyable and interesting, rather than for a reward. In terms of education, this would mean that students are motivated to study and engage in course work because it stimulates them instead of simply completing an assignment to receive a good grade. Rewards, or end results such as grades and passing courses, are referred to as extrinsic motivators. Teachers can take a number of steps to help nurture intrinsic motivation in the classroom and engage students in their education for the long term.

  • Learn about each student's personal interests and motivating factors to the greatest extent possible for the number of students in your classes. Talk with students individually and facilitate classroom discussions to understand why students complete activities that they're required to, and what motivates them to engage in hobbies, reading or activities when they're not required to.

  • Set goals for the students in your class and outline them clearly, so that students know exactly what is expected of them. Make it clear to students that success is not guaranteed, but is instead likely if they are willing to put forth a quality effort. Define effort to the students as a factor that is completely controlled by each student's efficient use of time.

  • Create lesson plans to whet the appetite of students. Introduce a topic and give them enough information, in an engaging manner, to help them realize that it may be personally rewarding and interesting to further explore the topic. This method will help encourage students to take on assignments because they want to know more, instead of feeling required to do so just to receive a grade.

  • Encourage a learning environment that fosters both independent learning and cooperative learning as part of a group. Apply different classroom situations to real-world activities to help students easily recognize how academic skills can be put to use once they are in the workforce or outside social situations.

  • Arrange lesson plans and assignments to allow students some kind of choice in their work. Allow students to feel as though they are being allowed to freely partake in some elements of the learning process by choosing their own assignments, rather than consistently forcing set assignments on students. Intrinsic motivators will be improved by allowing some choice for students to take on assignments that they find individually fulfilling.

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