Internal vs. External Motivators

I enjoyed listening to this TED talk by Dan Pink (below) about the pitfalls of using external motivators.  I believe the underlying research findings and conclusions can be applied to the teaching and learning context as well.

I wrote these next two blog posts last week but was away in the US for a workshop and was unable to post so here they are….

I’ve often questioned if incentives work and here’s some proof that this just may not be the case.  If I look at my learning in this PIDP 3250 course I realize that most of the motivation driving me to work hard is intrinsic.  Ya sure I want to complete the course and move closer to my end goal of getting the Professional Instructor Diploma but when I throw myself into the assignments it’s because I see the relevancy of it in my work as a teacher and in moving me closer to my personal professional goals of being an effective facilitator of learning.  If my job told me that I had to take this course I think I would be less engaged due to resentment of being forced into something and therefore less motivated to work as hard.

If the reason for doing something is entirely external, motivation can dwindle.  It may at first work but can peter off as time goes on.  The light may extinguish or be quite dim.  I would like to keep that light burning bright.  As a teacher in a program that is mandatory to becoming an RN, the motivation to coming to class and completing assignments may start as extrinsic but I can use this initial force and begin to develop the intrinsic motivation of my students from there on out.  Ways I can do this is by making learning fun, encouraging self-directed learning so students have some choice in learning activities, how they complete assignments, deciding on due dates, etc.  I can ensure the learning is very relevant to the students so they can see the big picture of not only how this will help them as nurses down the road, but how this will help them right now.  Creating engaging and diverse learning activities will also help keep the motivation going.  Creating a safe, and comfortable learning community would help as well.  So students feel excited to join this learning community when they come to class.

Developing my students’ internal motivation will keep them going and enjoying the experience too.  This will in turn create meaningful, deep, rich learning.

Check out the TED talk below with research about external motivation.

About turnera2014

I am a Nursing (RN) Instructor taking the Professional Instructor Diploma Program at Vancouver Community College in hopes to challenge my current teaching modalities and inspire me to be the best teacher I can be.
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