Motivators for Students: Examples & Types

Instructor: Mary Firestone
Learn about motivators for students and the different types. Find out how to inspire motivation in students. Read the lesson, then take a quiz to test your new knowledge.

Motivators for Students

Most of us know what motivation feels like, but we aren't always aware of where that motivation comes from. What causes our desire to accomplish and achieve our goals? Psychologists have answered this question, in part, by identifying these desires as either extrinsic or intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic Motivation

When we're intrinsically motivated, we're naturally inspired to do something for the simple reason that we enjoy doing it. We find pleasure in the activity and aren't dependent on other factors to motivate or inspire us. For example, some people have a natural love for chemistry or art and spend time studying outside of class for no other reason than their interest in the topic.

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation is when we do the task for the sake of receiving something in return, such as a grade or fulfilling a requirement. We are enduring the process because we have to pass the class before we can graduate. Interest in the topic is low or non-existent and every step in the process is a chore.

Conditions that Motivate Students

A quick review of the two types of motivation makes it clear that 'intrinsic' motivation is the kind that we want for our students. We obviously can't control intrinsic motivation, but certain conditions will increase the chances of it happening:

  • An organized classroom free of distractions
  • A supportive teacher who offers support and sees mistakes as part of the process
  • Authentic learning tasks, not 'busy work'
  • Challenging goals that provide opportunities for students to reach, while placing focus on self-improvement, not comparison with others
  • Tasks that are tied to student interests, that relate to things they're curious about, and link to the real world in some way
  • Assignments and projects that help students stay involved in the learning process

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