Intrinsic Motivation

student outcomes yellow keyIntrinsic motivation is what drives people who are passionate about their work or their hobbies. These are not just people who work hard, but rather are those who love their work, those who say “I can’t believe I get paid (credit) for this!”

Rarely do students exhibit that kind of passion about their schoolwork, but when they do it’s magical. It happens in classrooms where students see their work as truly meaningful and ┬ápedagogical approaches are used that help ignite intrinsic motivation.

In order for intrinsic motivation to thrive, there need to be three elements in place:

  • Autonomy – students have choice in what they do, how they do it, and when they do it
  • Mastery – students learn deeply about things they see as valuable
  • Meaning – students find the work relevant and authentic


For a detailed description of the research on motivation, look to Dan Pink’s Book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.