George Lucas Educational Foundation

Managing with Intrinsic Motivation

Managing with Intrinsic Motivation

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Are there ways you manage using intrinsic motivation? I just finished reading Drive, by Daniel Pink. Here's an interesting synopsis video: In the book he says intrinsic motivation is sourced in self-direction, mastery, and purpose, not external rewards (the video describes this wayyy better than I could). He gives some tangible ideas of how to build an intrinsically motivated environment. Such environments serve student creativity and engagement. Any ways you build self-direction, mastery, and purpose in your classrooms -- in management and in instruction?

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Jessica Piper's picture

I use a sort of "menu" approach in my reading classes as well. My students are VERY motivated to read, because they get to read what they want. I don't think it would work any other way. Motivation is most definitely internal!


Rachel Pickett's picture
Rachel Pickett
10th grade Social Studies

My friend just gave her students a lot of choice in how they wanted to demonstrate their learning (ex: power point, paper, poster, skit...) and she also experienced that it upped engagement and motivation. So did presenting their work in front of the class. We work in an urban school, as well, and she's had a tough time finding ways to motivate her students this year.

Maybe menus/choices are ways to authentically build autonomy into the classroom :)

Kandi's picture
8th math teacher North Carolina

I found this video very interesting! As I begin my second year of teaching 8th grade math, I struggle with different approaches in increasing student motivation. I found the information in the video awakening! I'm always working on rewards or other modes of motivation. After watching the video and reading the information I want to include a menu for projects and such to help create autonomy. Does anyone have any ideas for different methods in a middle grades math class

Michael Griffin's picture
Michael Griffin
Music educator and professional development trainer based in Hampshire, UK.

Motivation study is imperative for educators. Daniel Pink and Alfie Kohn are great -but go directly to the source: Edward Deci and Richard Ryan from Rochester University. Self-Determination consists of 3 essential constituents to foster intrinsic motivation: autonomy, competence and relatedness. Check it out -its essential for all teachers. And while you're there -Csiksentmihalyi's 'Flow'.
Michael Griffin

Bob Sullo's picture
Bob Sullo
author, educational consultant

Praise is so woven into what we do that few of us stop to consider if it has a negative impact. I guess it depends on whether you want kids to be develop their own internal resources or if you prefer they grow into poorly adjusted adults who look to others for approval.

Hope you enjoy "The Negative Impact of Praise: Fostering Dependence and a Never-Ending Search for Approval."

Laron's picture

I totally believe in this intrinsic motivation to learning and being careful in the ways that teachers use praise in the classroom. I will definitely look up those resources to learn more. Thanks everyone.
And I second Kandi's question if there's anyone out there who can give examples of a menu for math???

Martin Richards's picture
Martin Richards
I train educators to use a coaching approach in their teaching practice

I recommend inviting students to suggest then vote on what to do during all or part of the lesson.

The suggestions will come partly from the Course Description, and partly from the students perceptions of what they need to practice and develop. Start with a brief brainstorm on possible topics. "What would be useful to have done by the end of the lesson?" Write them on the whiteboard. Then ask each student to choose one activity and describe to the class why their activity is a 'good' one. "What makes this activity important?". It's revealing to hear what's the students consider to be 'good'.

In this way the students can find their own motivation for whatever activities they come up with, as well as generate a greater sense of Democracy in the classroom.

Dehl's picture

This video was very insightful. I have been struggling with creating a vision for my school district so that I can led effectively. I will use this clip with my principals and my Board of Education. So often people think that everyone just wants money and more money. I know that is not what makes teachers achieve.

Kristin Edlund's picture
Kristin Edlund
Teaching and Learning coach in Tahoma School District, WA

Surprised to see him mentioned only once here - Alfie Kohn changed my life with his book, Punished By Rewards. He's a bit of a rabble rouser, but I generally find him spot on. A great place to start is his short article, 5 Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job", which I always share with new teachers and folks working on our state's 2nd-tier certification, who have to show evidence of creating a student-centered learning environment.

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