What Motivates People?

Read this wonderful section from the book ,

You may not realize it but you are always motivated. No matter where you are or what you are doing, you are always motivated to do something even if it’s just sleeping. Focusing your motivation on learning, however, may be challenging sometimes.

It’s important to understand right from the beginning that you are responsible for your own motivation, even in courses that you don’t like. Although an interesting instructor makes it easier for you do stay motivated, no one can directly motivate you to learn. But given that you are always motivated to do something and that you are primarily responsible for your motivation, there are some differences between students who are motivated to learn and students who are not.

You may have heard the terms INTRINSIC and EXTRINSIC, especially as they relate to motivation. Intrinsic motivation occurs when the activity is its own reward. For example, some people read for the sheer enjoyment, others like to calculate numbers for the pleasure of it. Still others like to conduct experiments for the thrill of discovery. Think of intrinsic privation as being curious about something or doing something you choose to do.

Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, occurs when your incentive is a reward, such as grades or praise. Think of extrinsic motivation as trying to “get it done” rather than for the sake of learning. For example, you may be failing organic chemistry, but when the professor offers an extra credit assignment, you decide to do it even though you are not motivated to learn in the course. In this case, you are extrinsically motivated to earn extra credit points that can boost your course grade rather than by learning organic chemistry for the sheer pleasure of it.

The more you are intrinsically motivated to learn, the easier learning will be for you. The key to becoming intrinsically motivated, even in classes you don’t particularly like, is to find SOMETHING about the course that you find motivating and try to focus on the positives about the course rather than the negatives. It also helps to focus more in understanding the concepts to be learned rather than focusing solely on grades.

Excerpt from College Success Strategies by Sherrie L. Nist and Jodi Patrick Holschuh.

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