Topics: Motivation, Education, Alfie Kohn Pages: 3 (575 words) Published: May 10, 2014
Motivation Without Rewards and Competition
C J Tate
Creating Communities in the Classroom EDUC 540
Dr. Vickie Cummings
March 14, 2014


Motivation is the key for any teacher in order to get their students to succeed. If the students are not motivated, they are not interested in learning. This can lead to class management problems. Motivation can be divided into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic is internal: doing something for personal enjoyment. Extrinsic is external: doing something for a reward. When teachers use rewards or competition, students complete a task for what they will gain from the completion. An example of this would be students motivated in the classroom for the grade they will receive. However, there are pitfalls when it comes to the motivation game and using rewards and competition to obtain motivation from the students.

Motivation Without Rewards and Competition

Motivation is the condition of being eager to act or work or a force or influence that causes someone to do something (Merriam-Webster. 2014). Motivating students to want to learn is no easy task and something a teacher struggles with every year with their classes. Most teachers, like me, have used reward for motivation because that is what we have been told to use. However, research is now showing that using rewards in the classroom is not the proper way to get the students to want to learn. The students end up concentrating on obtaining the reward more than on the content being taught.

Using competition in the classroom is also not the right way to get students motivated to learn. Competition produces one winner and many losers (Kagan & Kagan, 2009, p. 16.1). When students continually lose, they become less likely to participate in the activities and they start to lose their self esteem. Kohn states, “Competition is to self-esteem as sugar is to teeth” (Brandt, 1995).

Since motivation is the end result and rewards...

References: Brandt, R. (1995). Punished by rewards? A conversation with Alfie Kohn. Retrieved from
Kagan, S., & Kagan, M. (2009). Kagan cooperative learning. San Clemente, CA: Kagan
Motivation. (2014). In Merriam-Webster online. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-
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