People are naturally inclined to learn. From a young age and out of curiosity, we try to understand the world around us. In education, motivation is often seen as the willingness of students to show certain study behaviour, such as reading literature and actively participating in lectures. You can distinguish between two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
Intrinsic motivation is all about wanting to participate, pushing on when it gets tough and processing information on a deeper level. Intrinsically motivated students learn because they find it interesting and fun, without pressure from others.
With extrinsic motivation that stimulus comes from the outside. Students are still motivated to perform certain tasks, but only because they’ll be either rewarded or punished, such as receiving European Credits (EC) or a failing grade.
How to motivate students
As a lecturer, you aim to intrinsically motivate students, since this leads to more involvement and better study results. Increasing intrinsic motivation starts with creating a stimulating learning environment. According to the self determination theory, this environment provides three basic needs: autonomy, competence and connection.
Three tips for what you, as a lecturer, can do:
- Give students freedom of choice. For example, when making an assignment, let students choose their own theme or research question, or how they would like to hand in the assignment (for example as a paper, presentation or video).
- Make sure students know what to do and that they have the confidence to do it. For example, by giving intermediate feedback, since this gives students insight in their current progress and what they can do to advance.
- Stimulate interaction with and between students. For example, you can do this by asking questions and by letting students think about the answer in pairs before you discuss it with the whole group.