Strategies to Build Intrinsic Motivation in Students & Why It’s Important

Motivating students certainly isn’t an easy task, with external motivators such as achieving good grades or getting into a certain University being the easiest way to encourage short-term accomplishments. However, students who find motivation within themselves, otherwise known as intrinsic motivation, are much more likely to be lifetime learners and achieve better and more consistent academic results. Intrinsic motivation requires lots of time and effort to build as it can be difficult to master in a world that demands instant results. Here are some strategies to help build up intrinsic motivation in students and why it’s so important.

What Is Intrinsic Motivation and Why Is It Important?

Intrinsic motivation is the desire to take on a task simply because it is enjoyable and interesting, rather than doing it purely for a reward. In terms of education, this would mean that students are motivated to study and engage because it stimulates them instead of simply completing an assignment to receive a good grade. Students that have intrinsic motivation are often setting themselves up for success not just academically but throughout their adult lives as well.

Ways To Start Building Up Students Intrinsic Motivation

Introduce Role Models
A great way to get students to be more intrinsically motivated is to introduce role models who will help inspire kids to work harder and achieve their goals. It could be as simple as showing them an inspirational documentary that specifically relates to their own dreams, or holding Q & A sessions with young people or parents who have interesting careers. You could even be a role model yourself!

Encourage Journaling
Encouraging students to keep a personal journal not only develops their writing skills but it helps them reflect on who they are, what they like and what they’re good at. The more students get to know themselves, the easier it is for them to become intrinsically motivated in tasks that specifically relate to their strengths and interests.

Make Connections Between Classroom Activities and Real Life
Making connections between classroom activities and real-life situations will help students to realise that what they’re studying now will help them meet their goals in the future. For example, if one of your students wants to be an engineer, knowing they need to have a solid understanding of math concepts will help to boost their intrinsic motivation.

Give Students Choice
Intrinsic motivation will be much easier to build if you give your students choices within the classroom. In fact, when students are given the opportunity to participate in their own learning, they perceive classroom activities as more important, which increases their intrinsic motivation for putting in effort and going deeper with their learning. For example, if you need students to write an essay on a literature book, instead of giving them one choice of book to read, see if you can narrow down five appropriate books and let them decide which one they want to read, and write their essay on. This way, even though they’re still reading a literature book, they have the freedom to make their own decision based on their preferences, which should spark intrinsic motivation for the assignment.

Provide Honest and Instructive Feedback
Intrinsic motivation isn’t all about receiving constant praise. Instead make sure you’re providing honest and instructive feedback on assignments, focusing on their strengths and weaknesses. Doing this will help get your students on the right track and spark their internal motivation to want to improve and do even better next time.