Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivation to Learn

photo credits: Educational Psychology Interactive
The Web gives to both teachers and students an incredible source of learning and teaching tools. Time and place for learning a specific topic don't exist anymore.  But does this mean that all students are engaged in classroom activities and in taking advantage of cyberculture? Obviously it doesn't. In almost every educational context, the motivation factor, for learning and for school in general, is crucial and must be regarded by teachers as a key element to explore.
Regarding motivation as a set of biological and psychological mechanisms which allow triggering an action, its orientation and finally the intensity and persistence (Lieury & Fenouillet, 1997:9), it becomes impossible not to consider motivation as a crucial factor in the teaching and learning process, because the more motivated the student is, the more persistent and productive his activity will be. 
Lieury e Fenouillet mention two types of motivation: intrinsic (in which the activity is appealling in itself) and extrinsic (which depends on a wide range of outside rewards, such as, grades or prizes). From here we can conclude that the current use of the term motivation refers to the intrinsic type. Teachers always prefer this one because it creates better results. That is why it's so important to identify and promote factors as challenge, control, responsibility, curiosity, fantasy, cooperation and acknowledgement.  (Raya, Lamb & Vieira, 2007:62) These authors also highlight that intrinsic motivation is in inverse proportion of constraint, for example, surveillance or teacher control. It has been proved that students' discouragement is born out of a learning process.
Puzzle of Motivation (Lieury & Fenouillet)
On the other hand, the acknowledgement of competences, in other words, a higher value pedagogy, must be understood as a crucial factor in motivating students. We also need to pay attention to students who belong to ethnic minorities, lower socioeconomic groups and consequently more exposed to being considered less competent; the teacher's attitude towards these students can set the difference, as higher expectations may allow him to question social stereotypes. (Fontaine, 2005:44)
For all these reasons, it is very important to promote tasks that may increase intrinsic motivation (less exposed to constraint), such as, portfolios, group presentations, personal data files, where the teacher's role is much more of giving information, rather than controlling or evaluating, as students are intrinsically motivated and perform all tasks with pleasure. To sum up, motivation can be seen as the puzzle on the left, in which all the mentioned components find a match.

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