Intrinsic Motivation


 “You can motivate by fear, and you can motivate by reward.  But both those methods are only temporary.  The only lasting thing is self-motivation.”           Rice  

It’ll take grit and determination, however, you’ll love the results of building motivation within each of your students.  Deduct motivation and you’re left with learners refusing to participate and retain information.  Trigger motivation and your students transform into learners excited to learn and participate.  Enjoyment for both you and your pupil is bound to increase.

In Cultivating Student Leadership, Ferlazzo shares how results from the Harvard Education Letter provide evidence for intrinsic motivation to be a key childhood characteristic among adults who become leaders.  Intrinsic motivation has the beautiful ability of inspiring persons from within.  Rewards are felt internally as leaders develop and behaviors flourish.

So how do we create such motivation?

Fostering intrinsic motivation may be as simple as building relationships with students to better learn their self-interests, hopes, and dreams, or simply being more prepared to explicitly form connections between students and lesson.  You could also offer praise for effort and action above that of intelligence (Ferlazzo, 2012).  Rather than teach mere content, teach students how to think.  Help your students discover what they can use or do to motivate themselves (Strauss, 2011).  You, the teacher, may be in their lives for but a short season.  Prepare them with tools to succeed long after your absence.

By way of grids, blocks, and an easy to read infographic, MacMeekin delivers 27 ideas to encourage intrinsic motivation in your students.


Or step away from the classroom for a bit as Dan Pink explores the puzzle of motivation from a business perspective.  After presenting studies where higher incentives result in worse performance, Pink sets forth autonomy, mastery, and purpose as tools for nurturing intrinsic motivation.


Ferlazzo, L. (2012). Cultivating student leadership. Retrieved 2016, from

Strauss, V. (2011). Helping students motivate themselves. Retrieved 2016, from


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