What Motivates You?

What motivates you?

What motivates the students in your classrooms?

What motivates the Global market for that matter?


Interesting research from Daniel Pink in his book Drive suggests that it isn’t necessarily what we think it is.  Pink does his homework and through studies conducted on an international level, he recognizes something very important for teachers and employers – IT ISN”T MONEY!!!  Pink’s book suggests that extrinsic rewards such as money works well for tasks that are mechanical in nature but with tasks that are cognitive, even at a rudimentary level, extrinsic rewards DO NOT work. Not only do they not work but actually can be proven to have an adverse effect on performance.

So what does motivate performance on a cognitive level?  What does push high performing students and employees to perform?  Research points to three factors; autonomy,mastery and purpose.  How do these three factors play out in the classroom?

1. Autonomy – Do students have options in your classroom?  Maybe not of what they learn,as we are bound by standard curriculum,but options in other ways.  Can they represent their learning in a variety of ways?  Do they have the option to work in different learning styles?  Do they have options of spaces to work in?

2. Mastery – D0 students have the option to really master something prior to moving on?  Are they given an opportunity to find their passion and pursue it?

3. Purpose – Do you students see the purpose of their learning can they connect this learning to real life?

It’s interesting to look at your own practice in light of this research and ask yourself if you need to reexamine some of what you do.  I remember using extrinsic rewards like marbles in a jar and free time as a motivator and I think I’d really need to revisit my practice.

Want a really brief recap of Pink’s research – take a look at the link below.  Its worth the watch.


Have a wonderful day!




Interesting Reads

Mindsets - Carol Dweck
Teaching Boys who struggle in School - Kathleen Palmer Cleveland
Drive - Daniel Pink
Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell



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