- Posted by:
- Category: Articles
Tom, a student in the primary class, is very reluctant to eat anything other than chocolates or candies. Feeding him has become a tiresome task for his parents. One day, after spending almost half an hour to make him eat a dish of vegetables, his mother told him. “If you eat your vegetables you can have some dessert.” Tom emptied the plate in no time. The principle applied here by the mom is ‘Grandma’s Rule’. To most parents, this is a common parenting technique that has been around for ages to motivate their children.
Psychologists have identified two distinct forms of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation makes a person to do a task to receive a reward or avoid a punishment. Intrinsic motivation makes him to do a task for the pleasure of doing it. Persuading Tom to eat the vegetable is a typical example of extrinsic motivation. For example, a student studies for a test because he wants to earn a good grade and to avoid the angry faces of the teacher and the parents.
Extrinsic motivation is effective and beneficial when it comes to teaching, particularly in situations where students need to complete a task that they dislike. In the classroom, just as in real life, there are many things they have to do, if given the choice, they would not. Sometimes the right incentive serves as the hook that makes them interested in learning. A little external motivation to master a new concept or skill will bring in magical outputs. Though teacher praise appears to be a simple thing, proportionate praise at the appropriate time motivates them to work on a task they are not really interested in.
Together with the benefits there are a lot of arguments about the downside of extrinsic motivation. Some argue that extrinsic motivation produces only short-term effects. Another argument is that sometimes students get hooked on the rewards that come with extrinsic motivation. According to Dr. Monica Frank, an American clinical psychologist, “The more children are provided rewards for activities that have natural reward, the more they will expect reward and be unable to set or achieve goals without that extrinsic motivation.” Some other studies show that providing students with extrinsic motivation can create problems in future because the reward is the sole reason for participation. Once the reward is taken away, the interest in that participation might also be lost.
In one way, extrinsic motivation is a superpower for productivity! As teachers, the most important question for us is how to make our students do those less desirable but beneficial things. The answer is simple: ‘Grandma’s Rule’. Let them do the pleasurable activity once they have finished all the unpleasant but beneficial activities. .