After going through the archives of podcasts at EdTechTalk, I recently listened to Women Of Web 2.0, Episode 7. 56 minutes in, they have an interesting discussion about intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation related to the concept of Locus of Control.
As this is related to two of my previous posts (here and here) I though it was worthy of mention. Being a podcast, it is hard to give you a simple reference to the discussion point, so I decided to transcribe it below. The other difficulty related to it being from a podcast, is that I can’t be sure exactly who the speaker is, beyond the female members of Cheryl Oakes, Jennifer Wagner, Vicki Davis , Sharon Peters and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. Despite their inherent challenges in these situations, I still love podcasts. So the quote is:
I heard a gentleman talking the other day, and one of the things he said I thought were so interesting – he was talking about ‘Locus of Control’… What he was talking about was intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation. Research has shown that students that are intrinsically motivated and really feel that they learn best by what comes from inside of them, that their learning depends on their own initiative about ‘do I get enough sleep’, ‘have I eaten enough’, ‘have I prepared enough for this’, ‘wow, this is interesting, I am going to make it happen’. They [intrinsically motivated] are the most successful at school. But the majority of males that were tested in school were extrinsically motivated, and they beleived that learning somehow occurred from the outside – from whatever the teacher imposed upon them. They were going to be told what to learn and how to learn it, e.g. if the teacher liked them they did better. There wasn’t a whole lot that really came from the inside.
People that are intrinsically motivated, when you start to teach them, and intervene into something (e.g. there is a real wonderment going on and they are exploring and discovering). All of a sudden someone, a teacher comes in from the outside and says ‘ok, we are going to do it structured, we are going to do this, look on page 47, lets reflect on that, what do you guys think’ that the enthusiasm and the wonderment and the excitement just drops from that person who is intrinsically motivated.
And so immediately I questioned, I wonder if all those boys, who are not going to do so well in school because they are extrinsically motivated could be trained to do things the way we [the speaker] do in the average [constructivist] classroom [aka, to be intrinsically motivated].
Quite interesting. From what I can tell, Locus of Control (according to Wikipedia) is more about whether you perceive that you have control over your performance due to skill, of if you beleive it is due to luck. This is closely related to a previous post. The Wikipedia article does not mention intrinsic or extrinsic motivation (in so many words). Although it looks like a relevant Google search does highlight some connections.
It is interesting to relate it to gender differences – I wonder if the stereotypical ‘males are more competitive’ view is connected to this, in that competition may be viewed by them as extrinsic motivation.
Also interesting to see another example of how intrinsic motivation can be decreased by teacher intervention. In retrospect, the ‘imposing structure’ intervention described here is probably a broader category, of which the ‘offering a reward’ intervention of my previous post is simply an example of.