Sunday, 26 November 2017 14:11

    Quick Guide to Intrinsic Motivation

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    Learning is not merely the convection of content, but it also entails a shift in mindset. Learning is only possible with engagement, motivation, and an open mind. Motivational dimensions like contextualization and autonomy dramatically increase students’ engagement, content retention, amount of learning per time, and levels of aspiration. Motivation is deeply linked to one’s desire to learn and one’s ability to learn (read more from Wentzel & Miele). Motivation is part of learning. Given that STEM resources have been available equally for boys and girls for some time, while participation still differs, an unintentional imbalance in appealing to learners’ motivations may be the main barrier to equality in STEM education.

    The following will provide a brief overview of findings in behavioral, social and educational psychology, particularly to what makes activities engaging and motivating; and of related findings specific to girls’ perspectives on STEM education.

    What makes people want to engage in a particular activity? Generally, psychology distinguishes two different categories: Intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation encompasses things we may not truly want, but that others make us do: For example, when we get paid or when we may get punished. Intrinsic motivation, however, is the motivation of “free will”, when we genuinely enjoy an activity.

    Factors Enabling Intrinsic Motivation

    Researchers have extracted a set of attributes that make a particular activity intrinsically motivating: challenge, curiosity, control, and context (read more from Lepper and Henderlong).

    • Challenge, or rather “optimum level of challenge”, means a task cannot be too easy or too hard. That usually means the challenge level should increase as someone becomes more skilled and more confident.

    • Curiosity describes that someone should be able to learn new things and be able to go in different directions.

    • Control means that people always want to feel in control of what they’re doing, both free to choose and feel capable of.

    • Context requires that an activity be relevant. This includes alignment with cultural, parental, peer, school and community attitudes.

    The researchers Ryan and Deci find three innate psychological needs: competence, relatedness, and autonomy. These make an activity “self-determined”, which increases intrinsic motivation.

    • Relatedness, similar to context, is based on relationships and culture.

    • Autonomy means someone is free to choose and to direct their activity, similar to control.

    • Competence describes that one feels competent to achieve a task. Perceived competence is also known as self-efficacy (read more from Dweck or Bandura).

    Summarizing the literature: To make an activity intrinsically motivating, students have to (1) feel in control and free to choose their own way to achieve different tasks, (2) see the activity as relevant to their socio-cultural value system, and (3) be confident that they have the competency that is required to achieve the different tasks.

    Read 1620 times Last modified on Tuesday, 28 November 2017 04:11

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