There are several cases where students show greater interest for particular activities contrary to others. However, the nature of those activities is not always defined. Someone would think that only games can be engaging for students but in fact, engagement depends on several factors. The objective of this article is to identify the different types of motivation of students, creating some ground work for the design of engaging learning activities. Motivation can be categorized into:
Intrinsic motivation is an internal desire to acquire more knowledge, explore new challenges and evolve in order to fulfill someone’s needs. Intrinsic motivation arrives from one’s inherent interest to a particular activity or task itself. Someone who likes singing or wants to become a singer will much likely train harder than someone else. This training will not be limited only during singing classes but it will expand from the boundaries of school. This kind of motivation lasts for long and has a strong impact on someone. This type of motivation does not rely on external factors, like certification and grades but is built on someone’s unique interest for a topic, their autonomy and their belief that they can achieve a particular goal. One of the main arguments of using games in learning contexts is that they can offer intrinsically motivating experiences. People play not because someone asked them to. They play because they find an interest in the activity of playing itself.
Extrinsic motivation is related to actions one takes to achieve a particular goal or have a specific outcome. Extrinsic motivation is related to understanding what elements or situations create motives for individuals or groups towards a specific task or topic. In this sense, extrinsic motivation can be a reward, like grades, gifts or acknowledgement but it can also be punishment. As the incentives of extrinsic motivation are not always aligned with one’s priorities, extrinsic motivation can have a smaller impact in comparison to intrinsic motivation. There are several examples of extrinsic motivation regarding learning. Students could be extrinsically motivated to work hard in order to get more money, leading to luxury for example. Others could be set on a goal in order to receive the esteem of their friends or colleagues. In any of those cases people’s motives were tied to external stimuli rather than the pleasure of the activity itself.