Intrinsic Motivation Part 3: Driving-forces and eLearningCognitive science shows that the moreInre Motivation Del 3: Drivkrafter och eLearning senses that are involved when you are learning the more you remember. With this conclusion a well-developed eLearning environment will become a perfect starting-point for learning. This is improved by the prospects of developing content that besides qualitative knowledge-creation also intend to empower the intrinsic motivation.

Emotional intelligence

Peter Gärdenfors, professor of Cognitive Science, writes in his book ”The desire to understand” (In Swedish: Lusten att förstå) that there is obvious connections between emotional experiences and the ability to remember. ”In case an experience is emotionally loaded, positively or negatively, it is a way for the body to signal that the experience is important for us and that we therefore should remember it.” If you transfer this to the school-system that reward trips to different deserted islands with facts to learn. Then it is not strange that the memory of these subject-facts will be short. The understanding drowns on way in between.



The Psychologist Jerome Bruner claims that the desire to learn is inborn and origins from three main intrinsic driving-forces: Curiosity, competence and mutuality. Children but also many animals have a natural curiosity, a desire to explore new objects in different ways.

The second driving-force does origin from the desire to show that you can or are able to manage something. But the human brain is at the same time too rational to be able to focus for example on a test where the context is unclear. Hopefully the facts will last until the test is over, but what happens after? Instead this driving-force does origin from exploration, problem-solving and own initiatives.

Mutuality means a driving-force and desire to be able to accomplish tasks together. These three driving-forces are school-system very bad in exploiting, even less to refine and almost never reward, more often it seems to work in the opposite direction instead.

eLearning with focus on intrinsic motivation

In a study from ISA (The Association of Learning Providers) a motivating learning experience is developed with exercises that are built for the student to use her creativity. The environment should origin from an informal individualised structure, including role play and other tasks that engage both the heart and brain by using different multimedia-functions like video, wikis, blogs and group-exercise-modules. However, multimedia-functions should be handled with care. It is not a library with different forms of multimedia that should be used but a learning experience that is trigging the intrinsic motivation.plato

Since the resistance in the learning-process should not be in the basic structure with a myriad of functions where most of them is not being used. User-friendliness is the main keyword for the intrinsic motivation. Especially since in a learning-process it is the content that makes the resistance where the student takes it on by restructure it and connect it to knowledge she already has acquired. Professor Peter Gärdenfors writes: ”The learner must be active and not just a passive copying machine.” Something that all too often is the results in the schools’ world.

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