Foundations of Practice in Learner Motivation

The educator develops an understanding of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and how they affect student learning and can identify general strategies to foster intrinsic motivation in the classroom.
Made by Friday Institute @ NC State

About this Micro-credential

Key Method

The educator recognizes the impact of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation on student learning and identifies general strategies that foster and inhibit intrinsic motivation in students.

Method Components

Demonstrate Understanding of Learner Motivation is the third micro-credential in the Learning Differences stack.

The full Learning Differences stack includes six micro-credentials:

  1. Demonstrate Understanding
    • Of Working Memory
    • Of Executive Function
    • Of Learner Motivation
  2. Build a Student-Centered Plan
  3. Apply Student-Centered Strategies
  4. Engage Your Peers in Supporting Students’ Learning Differences

What is intrinsic motivation?

The term motivation is derived from the Latin verb movere (“to move”) and refers to the process in which learners engage in a sustained, goal-directed activity. Not all types of motivation have the same effect on learners’ competence, behaviors, and achievement outcomes. Therefore, educators must be able to distinguish between different types of motivation and how they can affect academic achievement. For example, intrinsic motivation refers to engagement in an activity for its own sake. Learners who are intrinsically motivated perform academic tasks because they find them enjoyable. Simply participating in the learning activity is reward enough. On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is engendered by factors external to the learner. Learners who are extrinsically motivated work through academic tasks because they believe the work will result in coveted outcomes such as a reward or praise. Many scholars believe that educators should strive to foster intrinsic motivation in learners. However, students will have to perform some tasks they are not intrinsically motivated to do. Thus, a balance of the two is necessary in today’s classrooms.

Example instructional strategies for developing intrinsic motivation in students

  • Allow students to become autonomous in the classroom by allowing them to choose among activities and pursue their interests.
  • Present challenging, relevant coursework.
  • Foster a classroom environment that promotes supportive relationships and protects students’ physical and emotional safety.
  • Provide feedback regularly.
  • Reduce external rewards.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

  • Kaplan, Avi, Idit Katz, and Hanoch Flum. “Motivation Theory in Educational Practice: Knowledge Claims, Challenges, and Future Directions.” APA Educational Psychology Handbook, Vol 2: Individual Differences and Cultural and Contextual Factors: 165–194.
  • Jones, Brett. “Motivating Students to Engage in Learning: The MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation.” International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 21.2 (2009): 272–285.
  • Pink, Daniel H. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Canongate Books, 2010.


  • Helping Students Motivate Themselves
    Watch “The Surprising Science of Motivation” by Dan Pink and then read the reflective response by Larry Ferlazzo. These experts help to break down the essential elements of Daniel Pink's argument of motivation from an educator's perspective.
  • Video Introduction to MUSIC Model
    This presentation gives an overview of the MUSIC Model of Academic Motivation, which is designed to help instructors understand five key components to motivating students.
  • Choice Equals Power: How to Motivate Students to Learn
    Larry Ferlazzo exemplifies the hardworking public school teacher balancing the demands of high-stakes testing with everything else he wants his students to learn. He believes in “choice.” Some easy ways to give students genuine choice include discussing the seating chart, allowing them to help decide how misbehavior should be disciplined, or inviting input on the cafeteria menu.

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

Following are the items you must submit to earn this micro-credential and the criteria by which they will be evaluated. To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a “Yes” for Parts 1 and 2. Through any of a variety of methods (written, scanned, audio, video, and/or multimedia), educator demonstrates an understanding of what motivation is and how it influences learning. You must also effectively reflect on how motivation applies to your instruction.

Part 1. Overview questions

(200-word limit for each response)

  • What is learner motivation, both intrinsic and extrinsic?
  • What resources were most helpful in developing your understanding of learner motivation, and why?

Part 2. Reflection evidence/artifacts

Please provide an insightful reflection that demonstrates your understanding of both the impacts of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation on learning and the teaching strategies that may support or hinder learners with various motivations. Please submit one or more artifacts (such as links to writing, scanned documents, images, video, audio, or other media) as your reflection.

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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