Finding the right motivation to engage students in doing something constructive is quite a task for the parents as well as the teachers. So which one is it really? Finding the right motivation is the key to excellence.

What’s the difference?

Extrinsic Motivation

It can be understood as doing something to earn a reward or to avoid punishment. If you lure the child into giving them something for completing a certain task, then the motivation to act is not the joy of action itself but the reward – this is primarily extrinsic. For example, we tell our children that if they study for a test then they will be getting good marks and they might get a gift for the same – this again is extrinsic motivation, and doing well in the exam is the secondary goal, the first being to get the gift. Students automatically tend to choose behaviors, not because they enjoy them or find actions satisfying, rather the motivation is to get something in return or to avoid an adverse outcome.

It is a weak reinforcement and somehow negative in the long run. In the long run, the joy of doing something is lost. It also creates a downside in the development of the child as it makes them dependent on rewards/avoidance of punishment, and often makes them question, “Why are we doing this?” or “What will I get in return?” Extrinsic motivation also affects the self-esteem of the child because they start comparing themselves with other children while giving too much importance to the authority which rewards or punishes.

Intrinsic Motivation

The word ‘Intrinsic’ stands for something that comes from within. The energy flow during intrinsic motivation is much more and continues to sustain the focus of his mind. For example, curiosity and the desire to inquire is intrinsic to even a newborn child. If the curriculum is designed to start with inquiries, there will be an intrinsic motivation to discover knowledge, think, and learn other skills. Therefore we aim to design our learning methods such that our children are intrinsically motivated. While we cannot change who a student is yet we can create the optimum environment to encourage them to develop their own motivation muscles.

Here are some tips for parents and teachers

  1. Know your student/child’s motivations, tap into their innate curiosity
  2. Give them ownership of their learning environment
  3. Help them in setting some goals for their learning
  4. Give specific feedback in a stress-free manner
  5. Make a connection between classroom activities and real-life situations
  6. Get out of the way when the child gets involved in his/her work!!

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