The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes (1993), contends that rewards and punishments are “two sides of the same coin” (p. 50). Although rewards are certainly more pleasurable, they are “every bit as controlling as punishments, even if they control by seduction” (p. 51). According to Kohn, if we want youngsters to become self-regulating, responsible, caring individuals, we must abandon attempts at external control and provide students with opportunities to develop competence, connection, and autonomy in caring classroom communities”
One of the most important parts of being an effective teacher is motivation of the children you are teaching. When I was learning have to be an effective teacher in my methods classes, many of the techniques that I was taught included extrinsic motivation. When I began my student teaching I watched techniques my cooperating teacher used to motivation and noticed she did not use any of the techniques I had learned in my classes. I found myself confused about how I would handle the matter of motivation when it came time for me to take control of the class on my own.
I used candy and a treasure chest for rewards, but found that I only received motivation for a short time in return for these rewards. I knew that I would have to do more research and construct a new plan to motivate my student’s long term. I did some research and found that, extrinsic motivation refers to an individual’s involvement in an activity because an incentive or reward external to the activity has been offered. An extrinsically motivated child will choose to read a book or complete homework because they will get stickers when they have finished or not be allowed to watch TV if they do not finish.
Another frequently used tactic to motivate children is threating to call the parent or some other authority figure if they do not get their work done. Another form of motivation is intrinsic motivation, this involves knowing that a person does what they do, not because someone else wants them to do it, or because I believe someone will respect or like me for doing it. What they do satisfies them regardless of what others may think. This true form of motivation reflects the genuine inclinations and feelings of the child, not the values or expectations of teachers or parents (Dr. Gabor Mate, 1999).
Although the motivation literatures point out that intrinsic motivation is critical to student learning, the U. S. education system is organized and ran in a way that supports and promotes extrinsic motivation. Many parents and teachers believe that the external rewards such as money for good grades and bribes are the best way to motivate children. These well-intentioned, quick fix approaches to motivate send the message that there should be a tangible reward for doing schoolwork or behaving correctly. These techniques may work short-term, but long-term they will weaken the development of intrinsic motivation.
Internal and external motivation does not necessarily reinforce one another. Extrinsic rewards can interfere with intrinsic motivation by turning an intrinsically attractive activity, such as reading for pleasure, into a means to an external goal, such as getting a pizza (Deci, 1995). Researchers studying motivation (Deci 1990; Ryan 1985; Nicholls 1983) generally agree on three points. First, motivation is an inherent natural capacity to learn that need to be elicited from within an individual rather than established form outside an individual.
Second, teachers and parents must become aware that the long-term earning is to promote the development of motivation that arises for the child’s own nature and inclinations. Third, children must be intrinsically motivated to become self-regulated, independent, lifelong learners. One hypothesis that tested internal and external modification is the overjustofocation effect. The overjustification effect states that how individuals will feel toward performing certain tasks is determined by whether they are intrinsically or extrinsically motivated to perform the task (Deci, 1971).
Using the self-perception theory’s prediction that when extrinsic motivations are present they will take precedent over intrinsic motivations, the overjustification effect reveals the importance of motivation on performance (Lepper, Greene, & Nisbett). In 1971, Deci suggested that in a situation where an individual was to receive a reward for an activity, and knew about the reward prior to participating in said activity, then the individual would attribute his or her behavior to the reward instead of the activity itself.
Deci’s theory led to the hypothesis that once an activity is associated with the external reward; a person will be less inclined to participate in the activity in the future without a reward present. Two years after Deci’s study, a group of researchers again tested the overjustification hypothesis in a field experiment. Lepper, Greene, and Nisbett (1973) went to a nursery school and observed children’s intrinsic interest in various activities to confirm Deci’s theory. The children were then put into one of three conditions for the experiment.
In the first condition, known as the “expected-award condition,” children were told they would receive a reward (a certificate with a seal and a ribbon) for partaking in the activity that they were previously doing out of pure intrinsic interest. • In the second condition, the “unexpected-award condition,” the children were not told of the reward until after they finished the activity. • In the third condition, also called the “no-reward condition,” the researchers did not tell or give the children any reward.
This group thus served as the control group, since extrinsic rewards were not involved either before or after performance. The extrinsic reward phase ended with the researchers giving the children the certificates based on their condition group. In the following phase, the researchers let the children go about their activities, but this time without offering or giving any rewards. In accordance with the overjustification hypothesis, the children in the “expected-reward condition” had become less interested in their activities since the introduction of the extrinsic motivation.
However, there was no change in the interest of the group who received the reward unexpectedly. This is because the children in this condition did not know about the reward until after the activity, and therefore attributed their behavior to an enjoyment of the activity. Similarly, those who did not expect or receive a reward had no extrinsic motivation, and showed no decline in interest as a result. Based off of the research I did and examples I found, I plan to base the motivation I provide to my students on intrinsic techniques and rewards.
I will do everything I can to help to develop the children’s intrinsic motivation, so they can gain the tools needed to motivate themselves internally. This will be a skill, once mastered that will continue to benefit them and assist them to become successful in all aspects of their lives.