Education

Improving student performance through intrinsic motivation

06.12.2018 • 3 minutes

Improving student performance through intrinsic motivation

Motivation can be either intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation means you do something because you want to, because it serves as a kind of internal reward. By contrast, extrinsic motivation is fueled by the expectation of external rewards like money and praise.

In most cases, a student’s motivation stems from an external influence, the most common being tests and evaluations. However, students with an internal drive to learn are usually the ones who show more perseverance and put forth consistent effort.

Here are four elements teachers can focus on to stimulate and improve their students’ intrinsic motivation:

1. Competence

When performing academic tasks, students should obviously see improvement, but it is equally important for them to realise that they are responsible for their progress.

By doing so, students can develop a growth mindset, i.e. a belief that their accomplishments are a result of their effort. In this regard, the teacher’s role is to provide guidance to make sure that these efforts have the desired effect.

Students with such a mindset tend to see failure as an opportunity to learn, and persevere when others might quit.

2. Autonomy

As students grow and develop new skills, they should be given more chances to learn on their own. At this stage, the teacher supports the learners by providing feedback and encouraging them to take certain risks, which builds confidence in their own abilities and emphasises the fact that mistakes are a part of learning.

Students are more determined when they know they can do well on an assignment, and this is especially true when they believe they are responsible for their own success.

3. Sense of belonging

Students, particularly young ones, must feel like they belong in their learning environment if they are to become confident in their learning abilities. Feeling left out can have severe negative repercussions on a student’s motivation and academic achievement.

Once again, it is up to the teacher to cultivate a supportive learning environment in which students can grow confident in their skills, so that when they come across a serious challenge, they have the toolkit and the know-how to face it.

4. Purpose

Lastly, student performance can improve greatly when they have a sense of purpose, in other words when they know why they should strive to do well. Showing them practical applications and the importance of what they are learning gives them perspective, and can therefore be a powerful motivator.

Content drawn from “The Science of Learning — What Every Teacher Should Know”, EdX: https://www.edx.org

Writer
Gauthier Lebbe, Content Editor @Wooclap
Gauthier Lebbe

Content Editor @Wooclap. I love to write, learn, write about learning, and learn about writing. And hit readers with puns they don't see coming. You know, sucker puns.

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