How to improve a student’s intrinsic motivation

intrinsic motivation

If you ask a teacher about students’ biggest problems in their studies, he or she is sure to point to a lack of enthusiasm and motivation in students. In a world of constant and overpowering technology, which requires instant attention, more and more students lose interest in the classroom. What can a teacher do? How can students be engaged and motivated?


1. The action or process of giving someone a reason to do something: the action or process of encouraging someone to do it.

2. The desire to perform something or work: a state of motivation.

3. A force or effect that causes one to do something.

The definition is pretty simple, but what does motivation look like in real life? How do you create it in the classroom? How does this definition help? In general, what does motivation look like from the inside?

It’s reassuring to know that we are all born motivated. Just think about it – from the moment we are born, we start learning. Try to think of a baby you know. Chances are he is curious about everything around him. He is eager to explore the world around him. He is driven by inner strength. He wants to learn!

This desire to learn and find answers for our own sake is attributed to ” internal motivation. If someone says, “I am interested in science,” or “Learning math helps me think better,” we are talking about intrinsic motivation. William Glasser’s theory of choice suggests that intrinsic motivation is strong. She states, “We are born with specific needs that we are trained to satisfy at a genetic level.”

In other words, natural curiosity is lined up within our genetic structure to help us meet our needs in the best possible way, to survive and thrive as a whole human being. According to Glasser, the basic psychological needs are:

  • Belonging or community.
  • Power or skill
  • Freedom
  • Play

Belonging or Community

Teachers need to cultivate a community in the classroom so it can be a place where everyone is an active participant with a purpose and a reason to be part of the learning process. Classroom communities need to provide students with a space where they feel safe and welcomed by teachers and classmates. and welcomed by teacher and classmates. The teacher/student relationship sets the tone in the classroom. Research shows that teachers who have developed good relationships with their students have fewer discipline problems than teachers who have not made such an effort. Smaller discipline problems indicate that students are engaged and motivated to do their work.

Strength or Skill

Strength and skill refer to the ability to achieve success in doing something. When a teacher teaches students how and what to learn and what not to learn, he or she gives them confidence and provides them with the skills and tools they need to become competent and successful individuals. These may include some kind of advice in learning a subject, but also applications and services, such as essay writing service for example. Students are willing to take risks in their learning because they are sure they have the tools they need to achieve mastery of new skills.

Modeling and feedback are important components in mastering skills. For example, how do kids learn to ski? At the beginning of the day, they can barely stand upright on their skis, but after a clear demonstration of proper technique and accurate feedback from the coach, after a couple of hours, they can slide down the hill. Although it’s difficult, they learn the basic skills necessary to enjoy skiing and want to learn more. They realize that they know their business and therefore feel empowered by the skills they have learned.


As human beings we want the freedom to make decisions, we want to be part of that process. If students are included, they will have more ownership of those decisions. What does this look like in the classroom?

You can start by negotiating with students about the rules for the academic year, or just letting them choose their essay topics, or thoughtfully determining the grading criteria for those essays. Students who have a voice in class are more invested in their work in class; accordingly, they are more motivated.

The Game

Everything is better when there is an element of play. Our natural naughtiness and enthusiasm lead us to discover and grow. The enthusiastic teacher brings fun and joy to his or her lesson. A teacher’s emotional involvement and enthusiasm can increase a student’s interest, curiosity, and motivation.

These four psychological needs form the basis of our perception of the world around us and serve as the basis for what motivates us.