On Sunday, February 5, we received the following comment from one of our readers. We would like to thank him/her for offering an astute observation about a guest blog we published on Motivation. Our Academic Director Diane S. Brown, Ph.D. has formulated her response. We’d love to keep the conversation going, so please let us know your thoughts.
“ I am greatly offended that a college is promoting this type of motivation. Anyone who is familiar with actual science and best-practice research behind motivation knows that external rewards (like stickers and stars) do not work. I would recommend looking at this video from the TED Talk by Dan Pink: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation.html” Posted @ Feb. 05, 2012: by Blog Reader
Dear Blog Reader,
We viewed the Daniel Pink video you suggested, and we are big fans. We particularly like the RSA Animate’s version of Pink’s work, as well as that of Sir Ken Robinson about Changing Education Paradigms. However, Pink is addressing adult motivation in the workplace, and our guest blogpost from Teacher Blogger Charity Preston focuses on children.
There is a big difference in a child’s motivation in grade school versus an adult’s motivation in the workplace. The very act of applying grades to student performance is extrinsic motivation, which, in our educational system, is pretty hard to get around.
The controversy regarding the use of extrinsic reinforcement began in the 1970’s, as researchers began to examine the effects of reward on individual motivation. (Cameron & Pierce, 1996; Lepper, Keavney & Drake, 1996; Cameron, et. al., 2001).
As an institution of higher learning, we stand on the basis that certain motivators– even certain token reward systems– can be a practical reality for teachers, but should always be used with care. Intrinsic motivation is largely developed in young children based on their interaction with their parents. (DeHass et. al, 2005) Therefore, teachers must do what they have to do to reach a seemingly unreachable child, who may be inordinately motivated by extrinsic forces.
In the name of educational achievement, child nurturing, classroom management and teacher sanity, a certified teacher should carefully and lovingly make the call for what works best in his or her classroom. In my own classroom, I have had children who would do almost anything for a trip to the “Treasure Chest,” but weren’t motivated by ANYTHING else. Sure, intrinsic motivation is ideal, but judicial use of extrinsic rewards goes a long way in the primary grades.
Dr. Charles Fay begins his blog on HeadandHeartParent.com by saying “The healthiest and most powerful types of reinforcement involve time and attention rather than stuff.” As a teacher, the best extrinsic rewards I have found are those based on giving my time to a child. Getting a ticket to eat lunch in the classroom with me was a great motivator, as was playing chess or checkers, quilting, or even straightening the bookshelves during recess. The point was not so much what the child was doing, but that the child was receiving one-on-one time with his or her teacher.
Marygrove College Master in the Art of Teaching respects the science on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, but also pays homage to the power of the art, which is placed in the hands of every teacher, every day.
Would anyone else like to weigh in on this? This is a great topic!
-Diane S. Brown, Academic Director