Intrinsic Student Motivation

Goal orientation. Self-efficacy. Autonomy. There are many ways to describe intrinsic motivation for students, and I am glad that the discussion on this is so rich.

After all, research has shown that there is a steady decrease in intrinsic & extrinsic motivation among students age 9-12, followed by a slow stabilization until 15.

Meanwhile, we know that students with higher motivation perform better academically, in sports, and in social life.

That’s why it is so important for schools to treat intrinsic motivation as an explicit learning target. Not every student is going to struggle with this – but those that do can have life-long benefits that carry them to success.

One path to supporting this objective is fostering a culture of growth mindsets. Growth mindsets allow students and teachers alike to understand that any current gaps in mastery are only temporary – they will last only as long as it takes to address. For some gaps, it might take years of practice to fill; others might require only a change of perspective.

Regardless of the strategies employed, teachers and school leaders should create explicit plans for supporting student growth in this area. In the complex science of learning, this is one characteristic that can have a wide-ranging positive impact on other outcomes.