Charles Duhigg shares in his book Smarter, Faster, Better: “a group of Columbia University psychologists wrote in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences in 2010, ‘the need for control is a biological imperative.’ When people believe they are in control, research shows that they work harder, are more resilient and push themselves more. Each choice - no matter how small - reinforces the perception of control and self-efficacy,” the Columbia researchers published.
People who has an intrinsic motivation understand that effort brings rewards. The pre-requisite to practicing the intrinsic motivation skill is “believing we have authority over our actions and surroundings.” “Motivation is triggered by making choices that demonstrate to ourselves that we are in control. The specific choice we make matters less than the assertion of control. It’s this feeling of self-determination that gets us going.”
Therefore, we need to deliberately empower students to plan, take action, make decisions, change courses of action, and transform themselves while guiding them towards becoming autonomous learners. Having the control of their learning motivates students to achieve mastery, the “I-can-do-this” attitude. In this journey to get better at something, students develop key skills, such as resilience. Autonomy and mastery combined to a purpose is the ultimate intrinsic motivation force that will keep students learning regardless of the resources they have access to. The journey is no longer a pain when students have designed their own destination!
The good news - there is plenty of scientific research proving intrinsic motivation can be developed at any age. In our experience working with over 30,000 students in public school systems of six different countries, we can affirm intrinsic motivation can be developed (check the stories on our website or youtube channel.)
Some students have access to all resources available for learning, some others do not. Nevertheless, they perform at top levels in standardized tests. Why? It is easier to foster students’ potential than to fix their deficiencies and try to adapt them to the education system! We call it student agency, a practice done in a safe environment – the school -, which helps students to reach learning autonomy systematically, discover their purpose, and find their path to master what is necessary to make them successful in their future profession and in life.
Learning One to One Foundation provides professional development to enable educators and leaders to develop student agency.
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