Educational Psychology: What do we mean by the terms “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” motivation and how do they impact the learning process?



7b i). Examine the concepts of Extrinsic and Intrinsic motivation and the impact they have on the learning habits of learners.

Extrinsic And Intrinsic Motivation

I find it very difficult to ignore a discussion on and intrinsic motivation Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. What do these two terms refer to? Extrinsic motivation refers to the external forces that motivate a person’s behavior. Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, refers to the internal forces that motivate behavior. The teacher needs to understand both forces of motivations as well as how to use them to good advantage.

Extrinsic motivation

In this section, I have discussed the methods used to deliver extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation can be delivered in two main ways

        • The use of punishment
        • The use of incentives

The use of punishment or coercive power

This refers to the use of punishment or threats to punish the pupils who do not meet the set standards of behavior whether academic or general conduct or attitude. One thing to be said before engaging in the discussion is the following. The use of force and even threats to use it often serve as powerful motivators of behavior. If used properly and wisely punishment can instill discipline. It is important to understand the effect coercive power has on the pupils’ behavior. When a teacher promises to punish a student

        • Who does not score 50% and above in a test or
        • The one who does not complete assignments.
        • When punishment is promised to latecomers,
        • Those whose work is untidy, those who are rude. A question that we need to ask is. What effect does the threat or punishment have on these behaviors? Two things are bound to happen when we use coercive power on behavior. First, it serves as

An incentive to motivate the desired behavior motivates the pupil to avoid or escape the punishment. But it has two serious limitations, these are:

        • Even if it succeeds in stopping undesirable behavior it is likely to create dependence on external agents.
        • A pupil who is used to the use of force never learns self-direction.
        • He relies on others to direct him.
        • A learner who is punished never performs a task with enthusiasm.
        • He resents the things he does
        • He never learns cooperation.

Use of incentives or rewards

This refers to the use of rewards or promise of rewards to pupils who display desirable behavior. For example, the promise of trips, status, points, marks money and so on. This kind of motivation is useful because people want and need rewards.

        • Pupils will work hard to get good grades so that they can get the promised reward.
        • They will also strive to attain standards of behavior that will lead to rewards. However, the use of rewards has similar effects on motivation as the use of coercion. It causes dependency, the pupil works to please the teacher but in the absence of reward, behavior stops. So the motivation is short lived. For this reason, it is important to rely on intrinsic motivation.


Intrinsic motivation

What is intrinsic motivation? This is a motivation that comes from within the learner. It is also referred to as identification or ego involvement. This motivation results from the pupils’ identification with desired goals. An intrinsically motivated learner is one who has the desire and the will to learn. His ego is fully involved in the learning task. If this is the case then, the teacher needs to know what will make a learner identify with the learning task. The learner will identify the learning task if his need for competence is met. By competence we mean

          • The ability to perform a task,
          • Mastery of a task or


In fact, every pupil has an inherent desire to perform competently in school tasks. The teacher’s role is to discover how to help the learner to achieve this. The teacher can assist the learner by providing him with the opportunity to become competent. This can be done by helping the pupil to avoid failure.

This can be achieved if learners are given tasks they are intellectually capable of performing. If a learner is successful in performing a task, his self-concept is enhanced and he gains self-respect from the good feeling of being able to perform the task. This is ego inflating it makes the ego grow fat. Another thing that the teacher could do is to help learners set up both short-term and long-term goals. The short-term goals could consist of mastering topics and sub-topics and getting good grades in the tests set on them. Passing the end of year or terminal examinations should be the long-term goal. For example, aiming to score A or B+ in a given subject. At all stages the teacher should provide the learners with immediate feedback. This means that they should know their performance soon after a test or an examination.

The feedback should inform them of the correct responses expected as well as informing them how well they have achieved their goals. Basically, we want to emphasize the importance of empowering the learner so that he is successful in the learning task and making sure that the marks he or she earns are reflected on the paper. It is to dispel the myth that a learner who scores 90% becomes self-confident and may slacken in his performance. Let the teacher know that a learner who is successful develops an interest in an activity and continues to pursue that activity. On the other hand, failure results in declining interests. Failure has other negative consequences, For example:

        • Avoidance of the activity,
        • Absenteeism,
        • Total loss of motivation.



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