Student motivation in EFL classrooms. How does intrinsic and extrinsic motivation affect the behaviour of students in primary school ?


13 Seiten


Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2 Theoretical content
2.1 The term motivation
2.2 Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
2.3 Motivation of primary school children

3 Analysis/application
3.1 How can the teacher promote motivation in the primary classroom?
3.2 Exemplary teaching sequence

4 Discussion

5 Conclusion

List of References

1 Introduction

This term paper deals intensively with the motivational problems of children in primary school and furthermore how their motivation is influenced from both inside and outside.

Due to the acceptance that motivation is an important prerequisite for teaching one could assume that the changes in school today affect the general motivation of students. One should also have a closer look at student motivation in general, to be able to keep students attentive and motivated. It is important to understand why some students fell in their grades, do not want to participate at all anymore or why they behave conditionally enthusiastic in some situations. The intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are taking a large part of it. In addition to this, the central topic of this term paper is the question how intrinsic and extrinsic motivation affect the general motivation or behaviour of students in primary school. To all this, there are further questions. What is motivation and what are intrinsic and extrinsic motivation? How do they affect the students and what are their causes? How can the teacher provide support? And in the end, are these measures sufficient to turn a low-motivated student into a person with confidence?

In order to answer these questions, the term paper will be structured as follows. Starting with the theoretical content of motivation, it will be explored what is behind this term. Then intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, which are also important in the context of school learning, are going to be presented. In the third chapter the theoretical knowledge, discussed in chapter two, will be demonstrated, regarding school learning behaviour I have observed and carried myself. Then the question of motivation will be dedicated to myself by thinking back to own experiences. In chapter four the things found out in chapter two and three will be discussed and concluded. Finally, once again all the insights gained during my examination of the topic how intrinsic and extrinsic motivation affect the general motivation or behaviour of students in primary school, will be presented.

2 Theoretical content

2.1 The term motivation

The term motivation comes from the Latin word “movere “; which means “move“. Thus, motivation stands for the inner drives that move people to pursue an activity. The term motivation is also often equated with words like interest, wish, worth and employment so it clarifies that every action contains a motivational need (Gerrig, 2008, p.414).

Therefore, one could assume that motivation is an innate characteristic of humans, but technically it is more than just a simple characteristic. Motivation is more defined like a result of a process, which undermines fluctuations. It is an ever-changing state and not an immutable innate habit. This includes various factors that permanently influence the motivation (Niermeyer, 2009, p.10). In this term paper the focus only will be on two determining factors, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

2.2 Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Due to the research question the focus now will be on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. These two types of motivation are a special aspect, especially for learning in school because these types show different variations of what drives students’ motivation in certain ways.

Intrinsic motivation is defined as inner motivation. It is basically the need to act because something seems interesting or even enjoyable (Ryan, 2000, pp.54f) Thus the focus lays on the inner need, on the drive that comes from yourself without pressure from the outside. One is basically doing something for his self without hesitating achievements or exceptions. Regarding to students in primary school, their motivation is determined by these two types but especially the intrinsic motivation is particularly advantageous, as it strengthens the student’s willingness to learn (Edelmann, 2003 p.30).

Extrinsic motivation includes as counter pole to intrinsic motivation positive amplifiers such as rewards as well as negative amplifiers such as compulsion (Edelmann, 2003 p.31). This type of motivation is marked by social demands and roles.

It is not the enjoyment of the task that stands in the foreground it is now preferred to fulfil an instrumental value (Ryan; Deci, 2000, p.60). Students who are externally motivated often learn or follow a task just to receive rewards, to gain good grades or sometimes also to avoid punishment (Heinzmann, 2013, p.25). Thus, extrinsic motivation is influenced by the environment and has nothing to do with own needs and desires such as joy and interest.

2.3 Motivation of primary school children

After getting to know intrinsic and extrinsic motivation it is furthermore important to know what keeps primary school children motivated. In school children experience an input of information they never had before. So, they often have a certain motivation of performance, which is usually related to the sources of motivation. In this, the teacher plays a central role. He achieves some sort of performance from the students and appeals to their so-called learning motivation. In primary school the motivation lays often in the desire to learn or discover something new and in general the interest of the students themselves (Hesse, 2009, pp.137). Another basis for motivation forms the striving for success and avoiding failure, in addition, this includes the ability to know about own knowledge and having self-confidence (Hesse, 2009, p.143).

In conclusion one could say that the own interest of primary school children in something and the orientation of a goal or performance are important sources that drive their motivation and which are obviously affected through extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. The learning environment also plays a serious role for primary school children, when they feel comfortable in their environment, they automatically tend to have a greater willingness to learn.

3 Analysis/application

3.1 How can the teacher promote motivation in the primary classroom?

Due to the knowledge discussed in chapter two, one could make use of this in the classroom. By looking back at teaching, I have carried out myself I would say that it is not that easy to promote the motivation of every single student. Each student in the classroom has its own motivational background and as said before motivation is a process which drives the need behind an action. Thus, there are students who are already highly motivated because of a stabile intrinsic motivation, so they enjoy being at school, learning new things and gain their knowledge by showing interest in the educational stuff the teacher gives to them. For them it is quite easy to keep being motivated but nevertheless there are also students who are not interested in school and do not participate at all. So, there lays the question, how can you keep them motivated or even make them motivated?

I learned from my own experience that those who motivate properly also automatically promote motivation. Especially in primary school, self-motivation needs to be stimulated, those children never experienced the situation in school before, so everything is new to them. Some of them might even be afraid of having to learn, writing tests and some might carry the fear of new people or being alone. That means that the teacher must take a further role and is not only an intermediary but also a motivator for the students. In this case it is clearly important for the students to experience extrinsic motivation first, to learn and to develop their own knowledge of motivation. At first it is important to make the students comfortable around the classroom and even to get to know each other, as a teacher it is an assumption to know at which level of learning-motivation your students are, so filling them up with knowledge is not everything. I experienced a warm and heartfelt classroom in which the teacher had an authoritarian but also trustfully contact with the students. Following to this, one could observe students who gained enjoyment and interest because they saw a person in their teacher which is always there for them, listens to them and not only a strict person which just wants them to listen and follow rules. Talking straight to your students is the key, make clear how you want your classroom to be, talk calmly but clear about rules and respect but also make sure that nobody falls behind. When students have the feeling that they can rely on their teacher but also keep the respect, the first step to promoting the motivation is made. Regarding to intrinsic and extrinsic motivation discussed above, the intrinsic motivation might be the positive drive of motivation, but it gets clear that this always works together with extrinsic motivation. Like mentioned before in primary school students almost experience extrinsic motivation first through the teacher. The teacher has to show them motivation, that is best possible when the teacher is already motivated in his or her job. I know by myself that when you love what you are doing you automatically radiate that outward. Additionally, when the children see a motivated teacher, their expectations get filled with joy and the willingness to learn opens already a little. So, it is not only important to motivate your students, as a teacher, one should also be self-motivated to achieve the level of motivation by your students.

In conclusion one could say that it is important for a teacher to help primary students to gain intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation usually lasts only as long as the reward or the compulsion. However, intrinsic motivation lasts without external influences once she is there. Therefore, the teacher should be self-motivated and be an externally influence to them to show them or lead them to their own self-motivation.

3.2 Exemplary teaching sequence

To demonstrate the use of the theoretical knowledge and its use in the classroom a bit further I will analyse a teaching sequence by thinking back at my own experience and lessons I have observed in primary school. In this section I will describe a situation which shows the impact of intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation and its rewards or compulsion.


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Student motivation in EFL classrooms. How does intrinsic and extrinsic motivation affect the behaviour of students in primary school ?
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Lea Herrmann (Autor:in), Student motivation in EFL classrooms. How does intrinsic and extrinsic motivation affect the behaviour of students in primary school ?, München, GRIN Verlag,


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