Can We Spark Self-Acceptance and Motivation
What we know about the motivation of average learners could be important in the instruction of children with ADHD. Pintrich and Schunk (1996) reviewed strategies for improving academic motivation as (a) focusing on meaningful aspects of learning activities; (b) designing tasks for novelty, variety, diversity, and interest; (c) designing tasks that are challenging but reasonable; (d) providing opportunities for students to have some choice and control over activities in the classroom; (e) focusing on individual improvements; (f) making evaluation private, not public; (g) recognizing student effort; and (h) helping students see mistakes as opportunities for learning.
Each of these principles focuses on pleasure that can exist within the activity itself and is called intrinsic motivation. In contrast, extrinsic motivation uses external rewards (e.g., grades and other signs of recognition) as outcomes of performance. Intrinsic motivation is considered important in the long term because it is independent of outside conditions and has been found to increase students’ task involvement and the use of more effective study strategies (i.e., than students who were extrinsically motivated or assigned to extrinsic conditions [Schunk, 1996]).
However, motivational researchers also agree that extrinsic rewards are necessary for boring or repetitive practice tasks. For example, all students who attempt more difficult tasks or tasks on which they have a history of failure would need extrinsic incentives. Even average students reported that getting positive feedback or grades reinforced their efforts (studying), increased pride in learning, and reduced worries about failing, which freed them to learn more (Covington, 2000). Finally, certain types of extrinsic reward can lead to intrinsic motivation. A recent review of research reported that teacher praise (but not tangibles) led to increased intrinsic motivation and attention similar to the gains from teacher explanations of the relevance of content (for a review, see Witzel & Mercer, 2003). Verbal praise has an especially positive effect when it is informational (feedback) rather than controlling.
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