Podcast 258 – Neurological Research on Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Students not only monitor and regulate progress towards goals, but also their experience of interest during the engagement.

Dustin Tohman

What does brain science help us understand about how and why children learn? Rebecca joined me at the 2014 International Mind Brain Education Society (IMBES) conference and she attended a symposium discussion about the neurological research on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Although there are many interesting points she made during her reflections, one of the key ones is that, “Intrinsic motivation is easily crowded out by extrinsic forces.” The simple fact that there are high expectations is in itself motivating and when an extrinsic factor (e.g. ice cream party, grades, removal from recess) is introduced it can reduce a child’s natural intrinsic motivation. In fact, negative feedback on a task is a critical component for intrinsic motivation and development. Doing things that make kids “feel good” about themselves without being honest about progress towards the high expectations is not helpful. Our children deserve people who hold them to high, but reasonable expectations and who honestly help them find their own way through the learning process.

In the PERMIE KIDs podcast today, Rebecca gives a summary of the IMBES symposium titled “Critical roles of intrinsic interest in education: Theoretical and empirical advances.” The overview of the symposium was that intrinsic interest (or intrinsic motivation) is conceptualized as a cognitive or affective willingness to engage in a specific activity in the absence of any extrinsic incentives. The importance of nurturing interest in classrooms has been repeatedly emphasized in education, enhancing student interest has been one of the primary goals in many educational programs. Recently, academic research on intrinsic interest has gained considerable attention from various fields, including cognitive science, learning science, psychology, and neuroscience, providing a number of new insights into education.

The speakers on the symposium panel included Suzanne Hidi, Woogul Le, Johnmarshal Reeve, and Dustin Thoman.

In this show I cover:

• Why is motivation important?
• How does psychology play into motivation
• Difference between interested exploration vs. uninterested
• Natural interest supports persistence, sustained engagement
• How self-regulation can look and why it isn’t necessarily off-task
• Place for extrinsic motivation
• Myths for motivation

Resources and References

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Sunday, April 26, 2015 from 7:00-8:00 pm (EST): The experiential, child-led philosophy of education is growing among alternative and traditional educational circles. However, many are hesitant to pursue this because they lack confidence in their ability to assist children along such a path and fear children will not adequately develop cognitively or socially. They recognize the theoretical value of experiential learning or unschooling, but the scarcity of concrete tools and techniques leaves many without the confidence to do so. Our discussion will focuses on techniques to capture and use questions, identify and connect individual passions to propel learning, establish a shared positive framework of expectations, and build confidence to design an education with our children.
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