Care, Inquiry and Values

Successfully Integrate Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation in a Central Australian Play-Based Classroom
  • Heather PedrottiEmail author


To assist student education and behavior, either extrinsic or intrinsic rewards or a combination of both can be used. My teaching philosophy aims to foster personal responsibility, which I connect with being intrinsically motivated, and thus I did not see a reason to use extrinsic rewards. However, my practicum in an early years Central Australian classroom used both good learner characteristics (GLC) to promote intrinsic motivation and a school-wide positive behavior support system (SWPBS) for extrinsic motivation. The latter awards ‘bee points’ that can be converted into ‘bee money’ that can be spent at the ‘bee shop’. From studying the 36 students I found those with a better understanding of the GLC generally received more extrinsic rewards, while the ten students with English as a second language had the least extrinsic rewards and least understanding of the SWPBS and GLC. At the same time, extrinsic motivation benefitted many students, who knew they were behaving in an expected manner when their behaviours were made explicit and rewarded. This is especially important for teaching tasks that are not enjoyable, where extrinsic motivation can be used to encourage children to work on these tasks, and when they succeed they will become more confident to try new tasks and gain new skills. Extrinsic motivation can thus develop into intrinsic motivation as students realise that new learning, difficult tasks, and challenges can be fun and rewarding due to effort and achievement.

Journal reflection May 19, 2014, Alice Springs, Northern Territory:

I have entered a classroom with extrinsic rewards. Where self-management and engagement is successful, extrinsic rewards are not necessary as a students’ reward is the growth and learning itself. Most of my training has focused on enhancing intrinsic motivation to enable preferred learning attributes. I have studied in primary not early childhood education. Could this be the difference? Why do they have it and whose purpose does it serve? A tour of the classroom shows they have intrinsic rewards also. This confuses me. How can the children relate to both? What about autonomy? Acculturation?


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Charles Darwin UniversityDarwinAustralia

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