Observation Guidelines: Recognizing Intrinsic Motivation in Children's Behaviors (page 2)
- Eagerness to explore and learn
- Fascination with objects, other people, or both
- Frequent and thoughtful questions
- Lack of concern about external rewards for learning
Jamie often takes great interest in the new toys he finds at his infant care center. He is especially drawn to objects that come apart and can be reassembled in various ways.
Pique children’s curiosity with puzzling situations, unusual phenomena, and opportunities to explore the physical world. Make sure their environment is safe for exploration.
- Obvious pleasure in mastering tasks
- Eagerness to tackle challenging topics and activities
- Willingness to take risks and make mistakes
Luana delights in trying to solve the brainteasers that her math teacher occasionally assigns for extra credit.
Give children the academic and social support they need to succeed at challenging tasks. Use evaluation procedures that encourage risk taking and allow for occasional mistakes.
- Pursuit of self-chosen activities
- Willingness to engage in tasks that are only minimally structured
Mark, Reggie, and Cynthia form a rock band and practice together every chance they get. They actively seek out “gigs” both at school and in the community.
Provide opportunities for children to pursue self-chosen activities. Give them only as much structure as they need to be successful and achieve instructional goals.
Effective Learning Strategies
- Focus on making sense of subject matter, rather than on rote memorization of facts
- Persistence in trying to solve difficult problems and understand complex ideas
At home, Lenesia reads an assigned chapter in her geography textbook. Despite reading the section on mountain formation several times, she is confused about how folded mountains form and so asks her teacher to explain the process in class the next day.
In both instruction and assessment activities, emphasize genuine understanding and integration of the subject matter, rather than rote memorization of isolated facts.
- Consistent selection of a particular topic when choices are given
- Frequent initiation of activities in a particular domain
Whenever his after-school group goes to the local library, Connor looks for books about military battleships and aircraft.
Relate instructional subject matter to children’s interests and needs. Give them occasional choices about the topics they study and write about.
- Consistent pursuit of certain activities over other alternatives
- Apparent adoption of other people’s values (e.g., a strong work ethic, the importance of maintaining a well-organized work space) as one’s own
Audrey is clearly frustrated when unexpected events at home prevent her from doing a homework assignment as thoroughly as she’d like. “Even though I got an A,” she says later, “I didn’t do as well as I could have if I’d had more time.”
Encourage activities that will be in youngsters’ best interest over the long run. Do so in a warm, supportive environment in which youngsters have input into decision making.
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