Herzberg’s Motivator-Hygiene Theory in the Classroom

Fredrick Herzberg developed his theory on motivation based on the work of Maslow. Traditionally, Herzberg’s approach has been applied in the world of business and management. In this post, we will explain Herzberg’s theory and show applications of it in the classroom.

Motivator-Hygiene Theory

Herzberg’s theory suggests that there are two sets of needs for individual workers: motivators and hygienes. Motivators can be a person’s sense of achievement through performing various functions that are a part of their job. People often need to grow as a function of their career, and this is what motivates them. Hygienes are things people want to avoid and are associated with pain in one way or the other. For example, dealing with poor leadership is something most people want to avoid and is an example of a hygiene factor.

Additional examples of motivators can include recognition for hard work, which will often inspire people to continue working hard. In addition, anything that leads to the development of additional skills that are causing growth is often associated with motivators.

Additional examples of hygiene include such factors as pay, working conditions, and supervision. In other words, a challenging job with low pay will probably lack motivation because of the low salary. The same can apply to a great job with poor working conditions or terrible supervision. We all know people who left meaningful and engaging occupations because these hygiene factors caused too much dissatisfaction.

However, removing bad hygiene does not make a job great if the motivators are not there. In other words, hygiene and motivators must be positive, but they are not enough in many situations.

In the Classroom

For the teacher, they need to be aware of motivators and hygienes as the deal with their students. Examples of things that motivate students are praise, engaging classwork, making the curriculum relevant, and autonomy. Younger children are often more motivated with less effort when compared to older such as teenagers.

In terms of hygiene factors, classroom management is perhaps one of the most significant factors. If a teacher cannot maintain order in a just and reasonable way, even highly motivated students will quickly turn off to learning. For older students and college, the marking of assignments can also become demotivating if the teacher is not clear in their expectations and communication. Lastly, the teacher needs to show an example of expertise and organization as students have much higher standards for their teacher than they often have for themselves.

Conclusion

Herzberg’s theory can be another way of viewing classroom management. Teachers often deal with the same problems as managers, just with individuals who are not adults. As such, some of Herzberg’s ideas may be useful, but some may not be, but looking for additional insights into managing students is never a bad idea.

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