Brophy on Rewards and Intrinsic Motivation


I believe that intrinsic motivation theorists are correct in raising concerns about overuse or inappropriate use of rewards. In classrooms, it is difficult to reward students that (a) take into account their individual learning efforts and profess and (b) avoid communicating that they engage in activities to obtain the rewards rather than to learn. However, I also believe that behaviorists are correct in claiming that rewards can be used effectively in classrooms. The motivational problems facing teachers primarily involve getting students to put forth consistent learning efforts whether or not they find activities interesting or enjoyable, not just maintaining intrinsic motivation to engage in interesting tasks. That is, motivating students is mostly about fostering identified regulation, not preserving existing intrinsic motivation. (Brophy, pg. 135, 2010).”

Brophy, J. (2010). Motivating students to learn. (3rd ed.) New York: Routledge.