Extrinsic motivation, or the outside motivators we use with students, takes a variety of forms. Many teachers use tokens, others use stickers or points, and others use positive comments. Some authors, such as Alfie Kohn (2000), believe there are not any appropriate uses for external motivation. Based on my experiences, I believe there are limited uses for it. For example, I agree with Daniel Pink (2011), author of Drive, who compares extrinsic motivation to caffeine, noting it gets you going (although you are less motivated later). There were times that the only way I could get my struggling learners to begin a task was to promise a reward. It was effective, and oftentimes I could then move them beyond the initial reward.
Larry Ferlazzo in Self-Driven Learning (2013) also points out that everyone needs some baseline rewards, such as a clean classroom, a caring teacher, engaging lessons, and fair grading, in order to be motivated to learn. And Daniel Pink also points out that extrinsic rewards do work for a short time for mechanical, rote tasks.
Are there negative aspects? Absolutely. We’ll look at those next time.