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Teacher's Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motiation
Teacher's Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motiation

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Published by: Shot Time on Nov 11, 2012
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Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation of Teachers Bree Hohnbaum Instructor: Mat Erpelding PHYE 210: Physical Education for Elementary Teachers Monday, Wednesday, 4:00pm-5:15pm, Spring 2012

Motivation 2 Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation of Teachers When thinking about the motivation of teachers, many questions arise as to why teachers from all walks of life choose to be in the profession they are in. There must be something motivating teachers to choose this career. Many teachers today are overworked and underpaid, which is also the case in many other occupations today, however, it puzzles many as to the reason why people do it. Teachers have one of the most important occupations in the world: educating the children of today. Teachers educate presidents, doctors, lawyers; any profession at all whether it is a highly paid and sought-after job or not. Without teachers, how would anyone learn or know anything? We would be a simpleminded human race and everything would be different. So, the question is still there: why do teachers teach? What motivates these highly important people to do what they do? Could it be the money or the “fame” or could it be the shear importance of the job itself? I will further explore the reasoning behind this in the following essay. When discussing motivation itself, there are mainly two types: extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. “Intrinsic motivation stems from a direct relationship between the doer and the task and it is usually self-applied. These are the self-generated factors, which influence people to behave in a particular way or to move in a particular direction” (George, 2011). This can also be said that it is a person’s psychological rewards and is not usually something physical. An example of this would be someone helping a child learns how to ride a bike. The person gets the sole satisfaction that they taught the child to ride and got a sense of joy about it. Extrinsic motivation is the opposite. “People can be motivated through such methods as pay, promotion, praise, etc. This can be learned as extrinsic motivation and stems from the work environment external to the task and is usually applied by others or someone other than the person being motivated” (George, 2011). An example of this would be a boss telling his employees that if they reach the desired quota for the company, everyone will receive a

Motivation 3 one-hundred dollar bonus on their next paycheck. There is something physical the person is earning in return for their motivation. Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation motivates everyone in the human race, not just teachers. Teachers have a very tough job and have to deal with a ton of difficult tasks, work-load children, and people in their career. “In the process of working to achieve educational goals, it may be observed that the motivation of teachers is lower and that their stress levels are higher than those of individuals working in other fields” (Gokce, 2010; Jesus and Conboy, 2001). If teacher’s levels of stress are higher, some would think the motivation level of teachers would be low. However, the type of stress teachers get can be good stress, which is pushing them to work toward their goals and have their entire class pass. In fact, it can be noted that stress can be a positive motivational factor. Positive motivational factors will increase the teacher’s performance level, thus helping her students to exceed as well. According to Henderson-Sparks (1995) and Gokce (2010), the factors that decrease a teacher’s performance level are the absence of motivation, fatigue, and personal crisis. Teachers may spend long hours and hard-worked days being stressed out to the breaking point, but still continue to teach. Further research is needed for an explanation. In a study by Gokce (2010) about teacher needs, there were 29 questions about the extent to which their needs were satisfied and 29 questions about the importance of those needs. Gokce (2010) compared most of his results to Maslow’s (1943) Hierarchy of Needs. He concluded that teacher’s psychological needs were not being met, though their most basic needs are. He also concluded that if teachers know that their most basic needs will be met, it will increase motivation. This can be considered an extrinsic motivation and could be assumed that teachers are making enough money to live. The study stated that “…the teachers give importance to the needs that will increase their performance during teaching-learning processes, but those needs are not in fact being adequately met”

Motivation 4 (Gokce, 2010). Teacher’s psychological needs are not being met, but there is something that has to be motivating them. The accomplishment of educational goals at the teachers own desired level is what Gokce (2010) said at the end of his study that is why teachers are motivated. Teachers are not teaching for the benefit of receiving awards or something physical, which is clearly explained in this study; it is that teachers are doing this for their own personal reasons and because they want to see their students succeed. Toward the end of the study it said that if teachers are motivated, their students will become motivated, which will motivate the teachers to motivate the students and so on (Gokce, 2010) like a cycle, a good one at that. “…participants who were taught a skill by an extrinsically motivated teacher reported lower interest in learning and lower task enjoyment than those taught by an intrinsically motivated teacher” (Wild, Enzle, Nix and Deci, 1997; Demir, 2011). This can be said that an intrinsically motivated teacher (one who teaches because he/she wants to or receives a psychological reward) is better for the student’s educational process and they will be more attentive in class. Though, the study by Demir (2011) does say that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations combined explained 64 percent of the total student engagement. This being said, student engagement has to do with both. If a teacher wants to teach the class for his/her own intrinsic benefits while being extrinsically motivated by external factors, the students will be active and attentive, but the teacher will as well, however, it is finding that extrinsic motivator that is the challenge with most teachers. Demir (2011) concluded that intrinsic motivation is a far more positive motivator than extrinsic motivation. This also states that teachers want to teach mostly because they want to and that they get something aesthetic out of teaching. While extrinsic motivators do boost the teacher’s motivation, there are not many that can or will be supplied. Demir (2011) made some suggestions toward the end of the study that were directed toward employers of teachers or principals to motivate teachers more.

Motivation 5 Shared decision making, making work as interesting and challenging as possible, assistance with instructional resources, and feedback about progress were just a few that Demir (2011) named. Not many schools can provide pay raises to teachers, nor is there any way for the teachers to “work their way up” and get a promotion, like many other jobs can provide. Encouragement by someone in the administration is always a great extrinsic motivator that teachers can receive and many teachers do not think their administration does a very good job at helping them. This leads me to my next study. In a study by Marston (2010), she has compared elementary, high school and college professors all in one study. It was interesting to find that “Elementary teachers rated having a good administrator at a relatively higher score compared to high school and college teachers” (Marston, 2010). Though, the elementary teachers still did not want to be an administrator nor was the score for having a good administrator very high compared to the rest of the items rated for motivation in the study. Marston (2010) made a suggestion toward administrators at all levels; in order to motivate teachers more, build and maintain a positive relationship and also continually cultivate their relationships with teachers. Many teachers do not believe administrators care much about them and would rather have them get what they need done and then get out of the way as one teacher had stated (Marston, 2010). This study, Marston (2010), asked college, elementary and high school teachers to rate the importance of 18 factors under the categories of professional, practical and social that influenced their decision to remain in their teaching positions or that motivated them to keep the career they have. The second part of the study was a variety of interview questions that were open-ended for the teachers to answer. The results were not far from what anyone could expect. “Satisfaction in working with students and satisfaction at seeing students learn and grow were two factors that were rated very high by all three levels of teachers” (Marston, 2010). This clearly shows the intrinsic motivation of the teachers and it also shows that teachers find it “inherently rewarding” (Marston, 2010) to see the

Motivation 6 students succeed and move on. However, there was a difference between teachers who teach college and high school levels than that of elementary teachers. “Joy of teaching your subject yielded a somewhat higher score for both high school and college professors than for elementary teachers” (Marston, 2010). High school and college professors have a specific subject they are teaching for their classes and this is what Marston (2010) said might be the reason for some of the differences between the two. Elementary teachers teach all fields and thus have a love of their students in general, rather than teaching any specific subject. Elementary teachers also see themselves more as fulfilling a professional commitment more so than college or high school teachers. According to Marston (2010), factors such as salaries and the teaching schedule were scored lowest. This could be because, in general, teachers do not get paid a great deal. University professors might get a somewhat decent salary, but college professors are not being paid very high as compared to many other occupations. This can be concluded that extrinsic motivators are not very important to teachers. In the study by Marston (2010), it can be said that teachers have the most motivation toward professional satisfaction factors as their decisions to remain in the classroom. The next highest motivator was job security/tenure. This can be seen in many schools around the globe. Teachers simply cannot get fired when they are tenured and this can make the motivation factor for them rise significantly. Jobs are scarce at a time like this and teachers realize this and need job security, much like in other occupations. A surprising factor, though, is that “Elementary teachers found this factor to be even more important in motivating them to remain in the profession” (Marston, 2010), when talking about job security, than high school and college professors. In a study by Kocabas (2009), he wanted to determine to what degree various motivation sources motivate teachers. Interestingly enough, when talking about the completion of the study, “the highest level of participation is from the teachers with 11-20 years of experience, which constitutes 39.9

Motivation 7 percent of participants” (Kocabas, 2009). Many of the less-experienced teachers did respond, however. This could be because they are tenured and secure in their positions. They are also more motivated because they have more experience and know all of their lesson plans already. They already have a love of their students and know what to expect, whereas a teacher with little experience may or may not know what is going to happen in his/her first couple of years and that can be a scary thought. The study was conducted in order to determine to what degree various motivation sources motivate teachers. There were a variety of questions that the teachers were asked to answer with “always” to “never” as their answers. The results of the study by Kocabas (2009) supported the previous studies mentioned; intrinsic motivation is the main factor motivating teachers. “Teachers responded “always” to the item “My students’ being successful motivates me”” (Kocabas, 2009). This response shows that seeing the students succeed is, in fact, one of the biggest motivators for teachers. The teachers also responded “always” to both “Enjoying my job motivates me” and “Having a respectable status in society increases my motivation” (Kocabas, 2009). These are all intrinsic motivators and help to support the fact that intrinsic motivation is a far higher motivator than extrinsic ones. The extrinsic motivators were not even mentioned in Kocabas’s (2009) conclusion. Kocabas (2009) did a comparison on males and females answers, as well. Come to find out, females agreed with both “My success being recognized motivates me” and “Being regarded as a role model motivates me” more than males. This can be assumed that female teachers like to be recognized and it can even give them a sense of power. As there are more female teachers than male teachers, it may be true that becoming a teacher gives females a sense of dominance for they are in control of an entire class. Female teachers are also more influenced by their environment than males (Kocabas, 2009).

Motivation 8 “…it is concluded that a sense of alienation from friends or society, a competitive attitude among teachers, being subject to disciplinary measures, and inadequate facilities at school for accessing information have a negative impact on teacher’s motivation levels” (Kocabas, 2009). Most of these things are physical. There were only a couple of negative items that the teachers reported. Most of the teachers were happy in their positions and from Kocabas’s (2009) study, it can be concluded that intrinsic motivation, like seeing the success of their students, is the main factor why teachers are in the occupation they are in. The last study to be discussed is one conducted by Catherine Sinclair (2008) based off of teachers, who are currently enrolled in a teaching program, and their initial and changing motivation and commitment. All participants were in a college or university. There were eleven factors, six of which were intrinsic motivators and five of which were extrinsic motivators. There was also an interview process in which the student teachers could answer to open-ended questions to get a better view of what motivates or de-motivates them to stay or leave the teaching field. “…these student teachers are statistically significantly more motivated to be teachers by intrinsic motivations than extrinsic motivations with the highest mean scores at both times were working with children, intellectual simulation and self-evaluation” (Sinclair, 2008). Many teachers went on to say that their love of children has grown since entering the program and others said that it solidified their career choice. However, there were some who changed their mind about teaching and did not complete the program or changed majors. One reason for this could be “…nature of teaching work, stress and difficulties experienced with the initial teacher education course” (Sinclair, 2008). Many students could not handle the pressure or the workload that is associated with this profession. Many who changed their minds about teaching did not expect there to be so much work nor did they like working with children when they actually went into the classroom to begin their student teachings

Motivation 9 (Sinclair, 2008). Many who entered this program saw “attractiveness” to the teaching program and to the career. They did not simply enter the program because it was the only option for them. This study by Sinclair (2008) was conducted to see how many students changed careers and why they did this. “Three-quarters of the student teachers did report some change in their motivation over the semester and two-thirds reported some change in their motivation over the semester and twothirds reported some change in their commitment to teaching as a career. Qualitative data demonstrated that almost all student teachers increased their motivation and commitment to teaching, and had their initial career choice confirmed over this period” (Sinclair, 2008). The study went on to later say that the reason why others had their career choice changed or their motivation decreased was unrealistic perceptions about things like work hours, vacation, and working with children was not what he/she expected. The study by Sinclair (2008) helps to get a better view as to why pre-teachers are entering the field and what motivates them. It also tells us a little about the pre-teachers who think on the contrary. Many pre-teachers will not want to teach or find that they are not cut out for the position. Others will go on and become some of the best teachers in the world. “Entry and changing personal motivation and commitment, along with initial teacher education coursework and practicum experiences, have the potential to attract student teachers to teaching, and affect how long (retention) and to what extent they will engage deeply (concentrate) in their initial teacher education courses, or question their initial career decisions, leave the course or not take up a teaching position upon graduation” (Sinclair, 2008). Through these studies previously mentioned, it is clear to see the answer to teacher’s motivation across all fields. From college to elementary, from young to old, from experienced to inexperienced, from different countries to here in the United States; all answers are almost the same. Intrinsic motivation is the greatest motivation factor for teachers. Watching young children learn and

Motivation 10 grow is one of the most rewarding things that teachers can get from choosing the career path they have. There is no price on seeing a child succeed. Money or extrinsic motivation factors are not what teachers are thinking about. Success for all is what they strive for. Clearly, through all of these studies, it is evident that intrinsic motivation is what keeps teachers teaching and it will be what continues to motivate them for years to come.

Motivation 11 References Bruinsma, Marjon P.W.A. "Is the Motivation to Become a Teacher Related to Pre-Service Teachers' Intentions to Remain in the Profession?" European Journal of Teacher Education 33.2 (2010): 185-200. Print. Demir, Kamile. "Teachers' Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation as Predictors of Student Engagement." New World Sciences Academy 6.2 (2011): 1397-409. Print. George, Louis, and Thara Sabapathy. "Work Motivation of Teachers: Relationship with Organizational Commitment." Canadian Social Science 7.1 (2011): 90-99. Print. Kocabas, Professor Dr. Ibrahim. "The Effects of Sources of Motivation on Teachers' Motivation Levels." Education 129.4 (2009): 724-33. Print. Marston, Susan Hemphill. "Why Do They Teach? A Comparison of Elementary, High School, and College Teachers." Education 131.2 (2010): 437-54. Print. Sinclair, Catherine. "Initial and Changing Student Teacher Motivation and Commitment to Teaching." Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education 36.2 (2008): 79-104. Print.

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