Intrinsic Motivation Part 2: Emotion and rationalityIn western philosophy, there is a strong Inre Motivation Del 2: Emotion och rationalitettendency to separate common sense from emotion. The school-system is one of the most apparent examples on this profound misapprehension.  Professor Peter Gärdenfors writes: ”Without emotional evaluation of different activities and their consequences, our will would not have any direction.” This means that the emotions’ support for rationality is crucial for its function. Since the school-systems focus on external motivation a significant problem occur in an educational perspective.

Intrinsic motivation and study result

As I wrote in the first part of this series of articles there is research that indicates that strong intrinsic study motivation has marginal or no effect on study results. Rob L. Martens, Judith Gulikers and Theo Bastiaens at Leiden Universitet and Open University of the Netherlands, Leiden explain this by claiming that what differ students with a strong motivation with those with a weak study motivation is that the first has a much more explorative learning method.

The research project above referred to an eLearning-based experiment with totally 33 students where the students’ activities and results have been analyzed from the statistics in the monitoring system of the platform. Another research-project that was directed at the same goal but where the students should answer a questionnaire at the end of the experiment shows that there is a direct connection between motivation and deep level learning, in other words understanding. At the same time, this study does not either show any connection between high intrinsic motivation and better study results.

Knowledge-facts is rewarded at the expense of understanding

Leonardo Da Vinci
The explanation to these results are the assessment- and measuring methods that was used Martens, Gulikers and Bastiaens write: ”There is too much focus on facts. In other words, students’ curiosity is not rewarded by the system.” Exploration, curiosity and interest which results in understanding becomes for the school-systems inner mechanisms a by-product that is thrown away. The processed foundation that the learner should construct and reconstruct for further understanding lack relevance for the school-system. In part three we dig deeper into the driving-forces that are running the intrinsic motivation and how these can be connected to eLearning.

Written by
LarsGöran Boström©



Boström, LarsGöran Lärande för alla sinnen – Handbok om eLearning: Pedagogik och integrering Axplock 2011

Gärdenfors, Peter Lusten att förstå – Om lärande på människans villkor Natur och kultur 2010

ISA Association of Learning Providers Survey Analysis: Employee Motivation by Generation factors 2010

Martens, Gulikers och Bastiaens The impact of intrinsic motivation on e-learning in authentic computer task Leiden University and Open University of the Netherlands, Leiden 2004