Intrinsic Motivation

The University of Purdue at Calumet, Indiana, hosts the book Educational Psychology: A Practical Approach by Edward Vockell, Ph.D. The book consists of 18 chapters though unfortunately the last 13 have not been placed online. However, Vockell has posted a workbook to accompany his text, and the workbook goes through the first 14 chapters, so perhaps this project is a work in progress.

What piques my interest is Chapter 5: Motivating Students to Learn and particularly the section on Intrinsic Motivation, which contains an excellent chart summarizing the factors that promote intrinsic motivation. According to Vockell, these are:

• challenge
• curiosity
• control
• fantasy
• competition
• cooperation
• recognition

I can so easily apply these factors to what motivates me to swim.
~ The challenge consists of goals that are set by me and can be attained with “activity at a continuously optimal (intermediate) level of difficulty.” My challenge is always to swim further and faster.

– My curiosity focuses on how I can improve my freestyle, where “there is an optimal level of discrepancy between present knowledge or skills and what these could be” if I did something to improve my knowledge or skills. I tackled that initially by attending a swim clinic, watching swim videos, and reading articles, and each season include a variety of swim drills designed to improve both my strength and strokes.

– Most “people have a basic tendency to want to control what happens to them” and that applies to both professional and personal endeavors. There is no doubt that I control when, where and how long I swim (barring the interference of weather), sometimes swimming twice a day.

– If you believe you can do something, and form a mental (fantasy) image of doing that thing, you help propel yourself to be able to actually do it. Runners who race often maintain a mental image of crossing the finish line. I maintain an image of finishing the half-mile swim at the four Danskin Triathlons in which I participated.

– In the Danskin and in my daily swims, it’s all about finishing what you started out to do; it’s not about competing with someone else. However, there was definitely satisfaction in comparing each of my Danskin times, and I compare my daily swim with the previous day’s swim. Also in the Danskin I liked to compare my performance with my peer age group.

– I often swim with my husband, and we cooperate to swim synchronized freestyle laps. We aren’t fancy, but our arms are in synch. Swimming with him helps me to get faster and to use fewer strokes in the process. I think he benefits by being in the pool in the first place.

– And the recognition comes from neighbors at the pool who marvel at our distance and synchronized swims.

Next post: Rebuttal to Intrinsic Motivation

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One thought on “Intrinsic Motivation

  1. Pingback: Got Game? Got Reality? « Neurons Firing

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