Extrinsic and Intrinsic motivation are two extremes of a continuum of motivation. Extrinsic motivation is the desire to do something coming from outside of the person. Intrinsic motivation is the desire to do something coming from within a person. This post will explain some of the pros and cons of each type of motivation as they relate to education.
Extrinsic motivation is an external force that compels someone to do something. For example, it is common for students to study in order to prepare for a test. The test provides an extrinsic motivation to study. If there was no test, the students probably would not study.
This leads to one of the first problems with extrinsic motivation which is its addictive nature. A student will get use to the extrinsic motivation and never become motivated themselves to complete a task.
Extrinsic motivation can also lead to either of the following. In some situations extrinsic motivation can lead to a competitive classroom environment in which students try to out do each other due to the pressure. In other situations, the students will band together to push back against the extrinsic motivation by the teacher. Either situation can lead to academically dishonesty practice such as cheating and plagiarism.
Generally, extrinsic motivation is negative. When people are doing something willing and then are told to do it they often lose motivation. This is because something that used to be done by choice is now forced upon them.
The only exception to this is positive feedback. When people are given compliments on how they are doing something it helps them to stick to the task.
Intrinsic motivation is the desire to complete something coming from within. For many, intrinsic motivation is one of the ultimate goals of learning. Teachers often want students to develop a desire to learn and grow on their own after they complete their studies.
To achieve this, a teacher must become a facilitator of learning. A facilitator of learning is one who provides students with a context in which the students can set their own learning goals. A primary component of this is allowing choice in the classroom. Choice can be given in types of assignment, how to complete assignments, or other ways.
There are also affective measures that can be taken. Examples include developing a positive relationships with students, having a relaxing classroom environment, and increasing self-confidence.
Content-based and cooperative learning activities both provide opportunities for students to develop intrinsic motivation. The goal is to develop independent learners who can set their own goals and achieve them.
Motivation is necessary. The question is where will the motivation come from. In education both forms of motivation are present. However, the goal should normally be to strive for intrinsic motivation when this is possible.