“Intrinsic motivation is associated with curiosity, exploration, spontaneity, and interest…extrinsic motivation is associated with undertaken to attain an end state that is separate from the actual behavior…determined by some external contengency such as good marks or the avoidance of negative consequences.” (Muller, 2004) Adults are motivated by some external factorcs, such as promotions, salaries, and pressure from authority figures. However, internal motivators that help adults solve problems in their life, such as increased job satisfaction, self-esteem, quality of life, and the opportunity to self-actualize, tend to be more powerful motivators (Knowles, 2005).
Simons (2004) describes two different motivational patterns and learning styles. He states, “Students can have both orientations, but only one can be prevalent when achieving.”
- Task/Mastery or Learning Goals
When develop a skill or acquiring knowledge following task or learning goals, a student will take on a challenging task, even if there is a risk of making a mistake. They learn from these mistakes, enriching their learning process.
- Ego or Performance Goals
The main concern when working on tasks focusing with ego or performance goals is how a student’s performance will be viewed relative to others. They are concerned about looking incompetent or judged in a negative way by others, often avoiding the task all together.
According to Ryan and Deci (2000), learners who are intrinsically motivated, therefore being interested leaners:
- are more content in their learning processes.
- acquire knowledge in a more differentiated and more coherent form.
- show a long-term retention of what was learned.
- apply their knowledge more often than others.
- show higher academic achievement.
- perceive themselves as more competent.
Simons enhances Deci and Ryan’s studies by listing the following characteristics of internally regulated learners:
- emphasize personal development or growth.
- are more task oriented.
- are more excited about the course.
- use more deep level learning strategies.
- persist more and perform better.
- have more interests.
- are more confident.
- persist longer.
- receive better exam scores.
“Intemalisation involves an individual's transformation of regulatory processes that are extemal to the self into intemal regulatory processes. These now internalised values and regulations are integrated into and become part of one's self” (Muller). However, a person must have their basic psychological needs met before self-determined motivation and the development and maintenance of personal interest can take place (Muller).
Muller provides reasons a student will perform an activiey for its own sake, stating that this is intrinsic. Motivation in this case:
- derives from activity level, interest, and curiosity.
- taps into the natural human tendency to pursue interests and exercise capabilities.
- doesn’t require incentives because the process itself is inherently motivating.
- students often experience “flow”, defined as a feeling of enjoyment that occurs when they have developed a sense of mastery and are concentrating intensely on the task at hand.
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Simons lists the following characteristics of exernally regulated learners:
- are more approach and avoidance ego-oriented.
- study less regularly.
- show less excitement.
- persist less.
- use more surface level strategies.
- have lower exam results.
- are less interested in the course.
If a student is presented with a task and provided external incentives and reinforcements, they generally may not develop an intrinsic motivation to learn. In addition, if a student is provided external incentives to perform a task and they would naturally find motivating, their desire to perform the tasks can actually decrease (Muller). Generally, when students focus their attention on external incentives, the rewards become the end themselves, rather than serving their proper function, to provide feedback on progress the students are making.
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