Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation in the learning context

(Before that, please read part A) Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations are highly correlated with the learning process. Some scientists argue that emphasizing external rewards, grades, or scholarships for example, would result in weakening learner’s intrinsic motivation. Others support that extrinsic motivation increases intrinsic motivation and contributes on enhancing learner’s performance in class (Bray & McClaskey, 2016). According to Plotnik and Kouyoumdjian (2011) unexpected external rewards and rewards given as praise for achieving small tasks are inducing intrinsic motivation, although praise develops intrinsic motivation. Merrill, Frankenfeld, Mink, and Freeborne (2015) argue that external rewards could motivate individuals to attain knowledge or developing new skills and help in attracting interest in something when primarily was no interest. Additionally, extrinsic rewards can be considered as a kind of feedback in which a person achieved a certain standard or made aware of its performance. Regarding Ávila et al., (2012) positive feedback is predicted to develop perceived competence, enhance satisfaction, and minoring anxiety about performance and capacity (Wulf et al., 2012).

Quite a few studies have highlighted the key role of intrinsic motivation in teaching and learning (Froiland & Worrell, 2016; Wu & Fan, 2017). While intrinsic motivation has been associated with positive outcomes such as learning pleasure, better engagement, assiduousness in the study performance and long-term educational achievements (Froiland & Oros, 2014), extrinsic motivation is characterized by a focus on performance, competency expressions (Dishon-Berkovits, 2014) and failure avoidance (Kover & Worrell, 2010). Related studies on extrinsic motivation have shown that external factors as controlling language, deadlines, surveillance and rewards, are interacting negatively by destabilizing persons’ inherent interest performing demonstrating less persistence at activities. (Deci, 2004)

According to Froiland (2013), parents very often act in a controlling way by stressing and forcing their children to be successful. Parents’ inner desire and expectations for their children lead to negative outcomes such as decreasing autonomous motivation and disheartening children’s positive emotional development. On the contrary, parents that adopt autonomy-supportive techniques led to increasing children’s wellbeing and creativity, developing positive emotions and academic competence, and impede or diminish stress and depressive symptoms (Froiland, 2013b). With the intention of supporting his states, Froiland piloted numerous of studies. In a qualitative research, he examined fifteen sets of parent-child inquest of the role of parenting in promoting autonomy support during homework and learning activities, the study has revealed substantial positive relations of autonomy-supportive style in homeworking and learning in general (Froiland, 2015). Children are considering their parents as the main providers of their happiness and cheerfulness.

During the last decades the societies are hatching an educational system that relies on external control strategies to foster learning, thus, enhancing learning motivation based on rewards, directives, evaluation, and pressure learning is being reflected as an unpleasant task or chore rather than inwards values (Ryan & Deci, 2010). According to Hennessey (2000), children tend to respond negatively to a task as “work’” when their behavior is constraints imposed, and in a positive way when engaging in a task as “play” where no proscriptions occur. Ryan and Deci (2013) pointed out that when children are left with no pressure following their interests instead, they express their inquisitive and inherently nature and engage in learning development with interest and joyfulness. Children and thus students are learning from their experiences, both parents and teachers should find out and trigger the motivational factors so as to encourage and increase their willingness to learn.

Given the fact that children learn from playing and exploring, teachers should adopt alternatives teaching approaches to facilitate their students’ performance (Wery & Thomson, 2013). Thus, teachers’ main ambition has to be the development of a challenging and supportive learning environment (Assor & Kaplan, 2001). They need to encourage learning by creating a positive class climate and interact with students (Grolnick & Ryan, 1990) by performing with enthusiasm and responding positively to students’ questions (Wery & Thomson, 2013). They should also promote task enjoyment and allow independence by offering choices to students and setting goals (Black & Deci, 2000). Also involving students into learning, diminishing competition, praising and encouraging students to develop their intrinsic motivation on a task, linking and inspiring performance assessments with the real-life by using simply paradigms from every day appliances (Wery & Thomson, 2013). It is also important to enhance the usage of positive words associated with intrinsic incentives such as ‘involved’, ‘autonomous’, ‘volunteering’, ‘enjoying’ which increase motivation (Lévesque & Pelletier, 2003).

Therefore, motivation refers to an individual’s intrinsic or extrinsic tendency that influences its behavior either positively or negatively and according to Johns (1996), it is the persistent effort for goal achievement. If a behavior is mostly extrinsic motivated and the reward does not come, it is more likely the person to get discouraged and give up the effort, oppositely if the behavior is mainly intrinsically driven probably the willpower to excel will weaken.

The learning intentions of students are related to their motivational level (Law et al., 2010), thus the teacher is a key figure who can influence and motivate student’s attitudes on learning. A study has shown that when in a class context opportunities are given to students to engage in reading for pleasure systematically and for a long period, theirs’ intrinsic motivation to read has increased (Cremin et al., 2014). Teachers should trust their students and create and facilitate a positive and supporting environment by providing equal opportunities to students in learning (Wery & Thomson, 2013). On the other hand, parental intervention in endorsing children’s positive emotions and motivational factors is decisive. The parent needs to adopt the autonomy-supportive model which involves empathetic listening, educational games, supporting and encouraging children’s learning efforts on homework and discard authoritarian and controlling behaviors (Froiland, 2011).


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