Why Aren’t they Motivated? Does Looking at Dwight Schrute Give us the Answer?

Hat tip to my dear friend Angela Maiers (I can't wait to keynote with her in Maine in two weeks!) for this great video about motivation. This is a quick, funny video to get conversations started.

Administrators beware: sometimes the tasks teachers have in the classroom are mundane because the content is mundane.

Alfie Kohn vs Dwight Schrute

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6 thoughts on “Why Aren’t they Motivated? Does Looking at Dwight Schrute Give us the Answer?

  1. I don’t agree with Kohn’s extreme views on homework. He can be pretty shrill, and he doesn’t listen well. But I think he’s right about motivation and rewards.

  2. Cognitive researchers contend there are limitations to using reward systems. While extrinsic motivation promotes successful learning and behavior that the educator deems as productive, when motivated in this way learners may exert minimal effort to perform a task, may begin expecting these rewards, or may stop participating in an activity, project or process when reinforcement discontinues. Perhaps the most prominent argument is that instead of encouraging motivation, they may make the student focus on the reward instead of the project and the learning taking place. Ken Bain, author of “What the Best College Teachers Do” (2004), stated that, “extrinsic rewards eventually fail to keep students stimulated. Such extrinsic rewards can come to be seen by students as manipulative or unattainable. Intrinsic rewards, such as constructive criticism appear to be more effective in keeping students involved” (32-34). Ultimately, rewards and grades often motivate students toward the specific goal of the reward, instead of the process of learning that emerges when learning something that becomes personally relevant for the learner. Intrinsic motivation should be part of a part of instructional design, thus, being the foundation for the curriculum of the course. The ARCS model provides conditions for learners to become and remain motivated: attention, relevance, confidence and the promotion of satisfaction. These conditions would be the substitute for extrinsic rewards such as games, treats, extra-credit and letter grades.

  3. I just watched this exact video in my education policy classroom management class! Definitely makes a solid point.

  4. I love Ken Bain’s book – that is an INCREDIBLE book. Truly engagement between the student and teacher has a lot to do with intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic is always preferred but requires our heart and soul to often foster! Extrensic rewards – when used well can be motivational as long as they don’t become the goal as you’ve said. What amazing writing you’ve done here, Shelly – you honor me with your comments!

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