Monthly Archives: April 2015

45th Week PhD: Motivation

The past few weeks we have been discussing motivation in our Advanced Human Learning course. One of the articles we read, which happened to be a summary of a meta-analysis, was about how extrinsic rewards can be detrimental to intrinsic motivation. This has been studied on many levels, in many settings, but educational researchers are especially interested in motivation. For example, pizza parties, gold stars, and other rewards, can decrease intrinsic motivation. How do you teach intrinsic motivation at a young age, or at any age? This is hard to do since parents, teachers, caregivers, are unaware of what makes a child want to do certain things because they want to do it and not because they have to do it. Why do some children want to paint, solve math problems, play the violin, or read above their reading level? Are these things other children can learn to want to do on their own for its own reward?

Many of these questions have been pondered by classmates, and there doesn’t seem to be an answer for them. Teachers and parents can set goals for children to set them up for success, which will hopefully lead to intrinsic motivation later. One of our authors suggested that even adults can be intrinsically motivated to achieve goals even though it requires more effort and energy to learn. Habits need to unlearned in order to learn new ones. This can be hard for adults who have been doing the same thing for years.

My own intrinsic motivation has taken a hit this semester due to the lack of communication with one of our professors. She goes for weeks at a time without any feedback, encouragement, or instructions. We are left to fend for ourselves, taking autonomous learning to new heights for a doctoral level course in a program known for its excellence in online learning. We have turned in three papers, as a group, and haven gotten one back graded. Our next assignment is to be done individually. I am not worried if I will pass the course. I am worried that an opportunity was missed to learn more, express more, and do more than what I was given. That is what has sucked motivation from me this semester. I am hoping next semester my attitude will change and my motivation will improve.

Blessings to you and yours.

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