Intrinsic Motivation as a Key to Student's Success

Every educator aims to put all effort in giving effective clinical teaching and learning process. It is vital to be equipped with the efficient methods of providing information to learners. Considering different methods of strategies are crucial to facilitate retention of knowledge it is done best with the supportive classroom environment where social and physical needs of learner are acknowledge and learners’ potential are nurtured and developed. This is done to achieve the common goal of every educator which is to develop quality competitive learners. According to Farooq, Chaudhry, Shafiq, Berhanu, the quality of students’ performance remains at top priority for educators and the level of students motivation. The teacher occupies a strategic position in the teaching-learning process. Effective teachers are equipped with repertoire of best teaching practices such as strategies, procedures, and approaches in presenting, implementing and assessing classroom instruction in accordance with the objectives set. 

Different people believe that learners are affected by different factors under different circumstances. The single most important factor determining a student’s academic success is the academic preparation a student receives and the rigor of coursework to which he is exposed. While rigorous academic preparation is the most important factor in academic success, there are a number of other factors that support academic success and readiness for college preparatory high schools and college, such as students’ motivation. Research shows that these “non-academic” or “social/emotional” factors do matter when it comes to academic achievement, and those directly related to academic activities matter the most.


Motivation from the Latin word, movere, means to set in motion. Motivation has been defined as a psychological force that moves a person toward some kind of action. According to Frith, motivation can be defined as the internal drive directing behavior towards some end. Implicit in motivation is movement in the direction of meeting a need or toward reaching a goal. Inertia is a property of matter by which it remains at rest or in uniform motion in the same straight line unless acted upon by some external force.

According to Frith, external forces can influence behavior but ultimately it is the internal force of motivation that sustains behavior. Motivation is the result of internal and external factors and not the result of external manipulation alone.

Students’ academic talents can carry them far, but in order to become scholars who can manage their own learning, students need to be self-motivated. The learner is motivated by success. Success is self-satisfying and feels one’s self-esteem. In cyclical process, success and self-esteem escalate, moving the learner toward accomplishment. On other hand, focusing on weak clinical performance can reduce students’ self-esteem.

Self Motivation Theory

Ryan, Kuhl and Deci, introduced the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) which they defined as an approach to human motivation and personality that utilizes traditional empirical methods while employing a metatheory that highlights the importance of human’s evolved inner resources for personality development and behavioral self-regulation. This approach examines people‘s inherent growth tendencies and innate psychological needs that are the basis for their self-motivation and personality integration, as well as for the conditions that foster those positive processes.

Motivation defined as “internal energy which drives a person to do something in order to achieve something” is an important factor that is associated with academic performance. There are two types of motivation that affect academic performance, extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation has been defined as: 

  1. participation in an activity purely out of curiosity that is for a need to know about something; 
  2. the desire to engage in an activity purely for the sake of participating in and completing a task; 
  3. the desire to contribute.

According to Deci, intrinsic motivation refers to be in an activity for itself, and the pleasure and satisfaction derived from participation. Academic intrinsic motivation plays a significant role in achievement, competency and academic learning.

Deci and Ryan, posit that intrinsic motivation stems from the innate psychological needs of competence and self-determination. Literature suggests intrinsic motivation reveals the presence of three types of intrinsic motivation: to know, to experience stimulation, and to accomplish things. Intrinsic motivation to learn relays to several constructs such as exploration, curiosity, learning goals, intrinsic intellectuality, and finally intrinsic motivation to learn. Intrinsic motivation towards an accomplishment has been studied in developmental psychology as well as in educational research under the concept such as mastery motivation.

Components of Motivation to Learn

According to Frith, instructional designers must meet the challenge of designing instruction that is motivating. This is a response to gap brought by life experience between students and creates a diversity that is important in learning. Adult educators are dealing with group of individuals whose needs and motivations are very diverse. Thus components of motivation to learn such as need, curiosity, self-efficacy and external motivation are considered.


Maslow, motivation theory are integrated wholeness of the individual and a hierarchy of goals. Acknowledging the complexity of concept of motivation, he noted that not all behavior is motivated and that behavior theories are not synonymous with motivation. Maslows’ uses the principles of hierarchy of needs- physiologic, safety, love/ belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization. The need of every individual vary some individuals are highly motivated, whereas others are weakly motivated. The root intention of the behavior is related to the need of a person that must be met first which is physiologic (e.g. thirst, hunger) in order to set out into another emergent need. The lower level of needs must be satisfied before the next higher level of needs.


According to Frith, people are naturally curious. They seek new experiences; they enjoy learning new things; they find satisfaction in solving puzzles, perfecting skills and developing competence. A major task in teaching is to nurture student curiosity and to use curiosity as a motive for learning. Providing students with stimuli that are new but not too different from what they already know stimulates curiosity. Curiosity is a motive that is intrinsic to learning, and thus continued learning is not dependent upon the teacher rewarding learning.


Self-efficacy, or perceived competence to perform a specific task, and academic self-concept, a more general sense of how well one does in school, and related traits such as confidence, assertiveness and positive risk-taking, correlate with, if not directly influence, academic performance.

Researchers believe that individuals’ actions are better predicted by their beliefs about their abilities and competence, than their actual abilities. A student’s sense of self-efficacy not only influences academic choices, but also influences a student’s level of effort and persistence, particularly when a student perceives their academic success as within their control.

Another method for influencing self-efficacy beliefs is modeling, or showing by example what success or excellence looks like. Modeling is particularly effective when the person being observed and the observer share similar attributes (e.g., both teacher and student are Latino or both teacher and student grew up in similar neighborhoods). When teachers or mentors model excellence for students, and particularly when teachers seem similar to students, students see their own potential reflected back to them.

Positive reinforcement is another critical component of developing self-efficacy beliefs. Positive reinforcement should communicate high expectations, a belief in students’ capabilities and a belief in individuals’ ability to learn and grow. Having high expectations, believing in a student’s ability and clearly communicating those beliefs can change a student’s academic future. In fact, a study done by the College Board showed that if a student’s counselor believed that a student should go to a four year college, the likelihood of that student attending a four year college increased substantially.


Intrinsic motivation to experience stimulation take place when someone engages in an activity in order to experience stimulating sensations (e.g., aesthetic experiences, sensory pleasure, with fun and excitement) derived from one’s engagement in the activity. Research on the dynamic and holistic sensation of flow, on feelings of excitement in intrinsic motivation, on aesthetic stimulating experiences, and peak experiences is representative of this form of intrinsic motivation. Motivation is paramount to student’s success. Motivation has also been described as willingness of the learners to embrace learning, with readiness as evidence of motivation. Overall, intrinsic motivation is an important contributor to student achievement. 

07 July 2022
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