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Extrinsic motivation is where by the student is motivated by outside factors as opposed to the internal intrinsic motivation. These factors come from the surrounding environment and not from inside the student. These factors may be things like avoiding punishment, pleasing teachers and parents, getting rewards or even getting good grades. To the student these factors contribute satisfaction and pleasure in a way that the task itself may not be able to (Carol, 2010).

Mostly, an extrinsically motivated student will work hard at a task whether or not they are interested in it. This is because they are after the satisfaction of the reward that comes with completing the assignment. For example, a student who does not like a subject will work hard at that subject only to get recognition or a good grade in the subject or class. Basically, extrinsic motivation does not mean that the student will get any pleasure from doing or completing a task, it is that the reward will continue to be a motivator even if the student has very little or no interest in the task (Carol).


One of the most important questions that have been asked is, “Is extrinsic motivation effective?” (Cory, 2010). Most researchers have argued for both sides of this question. According to Cory (2010) states that, extrinsic motivation paves way for the student to set goals, cope with the pressure of achieving them and develop ways to facilitate the achievement of those goals. An example given by Cory (2010), “Rica spends the longest hours reading the most boring novels just to get the exemption privileges that our English Literature professor gives us. When all of us have given up hope on solving a Calculus problem for additional merits, Rica will waste precious neurons and hours until she could solve them. She even grabbed the tedious job of checking the class attendance for our Psychology class just so she could get extra credits for the course. …But what makes it stranger is the fact that she doesn’t even like any of these courses.”

Some institution use extrinsic factors in academic settings where the students are to use virtual simulations in order to obtain the content of the subjects or presentation through which extrinsic motivation is to be important in the succession of the unit/course (George, 2010)

Extrinsic motivation highlights over justification and decreases intrinsic motivation. When a student does a task just because they want to get a reward, the feeling of doing the task on their own reduces as he/she focuses on the reward and not on the importance of the task. If the reward is to be removed then the student will not enjoy doing the task like he/she had when a reward was being offered and hence the task will be poorly done compared to the first instance. For example, Lepper, Greene and Nisbett (1973) asked two groups of children to do some drawings. One group was promised a 'good player medal' for their work and the other was promised nothing. On a return visit, the groups were given paper and crayons and what they did was observed. The group who had been given the medal for drawing previously spent significantly less this time drawing as compared with the no-reward group (changingminds.org).

Gender has also played a major and very important role I the research of impact of extrinsic motivation. An investigation carried out by Helen, Allison and Paul, showed that there were gender differences in association between males’ and females’ mastery and extrinsic goal orientation and measure of self-regulated learning. Survey data from 445 seventh and eighth grade students at both the beginning and end of the year, indicated that males were more extrinsically oriented than females (Helen et al, 1999).

Augustus (2001) investigated a class and found out that, students who cheated in tasks (cheaters) were lower in mastery motivation and higher in extrinsic motivation in tasks they cheated than in tasks they did not cheat. Cheaters were also lower in mastery motivation and higher in extrinsic motivation than those students who did not cheat (Augustus, 2001).

Extrinsic motivation remains one of the most controversial issues among leading psychologists, researchers and scholars. There might be differences here and there about the actual impacts of extrinsic motivation on student participation but one fact that remains is that extrinsic motivation is very important in student participation. For better results in students participation it is better that the two (intrinsic and extrinsic motivations) are applied appropriately.

The biggest research question that requires to be answered is, ‘Can increasing extrinsic motivational forces reach a level of intensity where a learner’s intrinsic motivation is increased or diminished?’ 

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