White Paper on Choosing Educational Technology That Helps, Rather than Hinders, Students’ Intrinsic Motivation

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Proliferation of New Educational Technology Products Raises Question of Which Features Support and Spur an Inherent Love of Learning

While student motivation in traditional classroom settings is well researched, materials on how digital tools are enhancing or undermining this essential factor for academic performance are harder to find. Lexia Learning, a Rosetta Stone Inc. (NYSE: RST) Company, has released a white paper titled, “The Importance of Intrinsic Student Motivation When Selecting Educational Technologies,” which not only focuses on well-researched methods of supporting students’ intrinsic motivation but also applies that research to educational technologies.

The white paper, written by Dr. Elizabeth R. Kazakoff, senior researcher at Lexia, highlights the three characteristics identified in Self Determination Theory that are critical to spark intrinsic motivation in learners:

  • Autonomy
  • Competence
  • Relatedness to the contexts of a student’s community, personal goals, interests, or knowledge base

Dr. Kazakoff points out that instead of cultivating these three pillars of motivation, many people, including some educators and makers of educational technologies, opt for external motivators, such as rewards and punishments, to drive desired behaviors. “Although these solutions may be effective in the short-term, they often undermine students’ long-term intrinsic motivation for learning,” she writes. That is especially problematic since intrinsic motivation supports lifelong learning, a vital competency in the 21st century workplace.

To help educators ensure that intrinsic motivation is supported by the educational technology solutions they choose, the white paper shares questions—based on the three characteristics identified in Self Determination Theory of autonomy, competence and relatedness/meaning—that educators can ask themselves. For example, Dr. Kazakoff recommends that educators ask, “Is it clear to the student that their work online relates to their world offline?” because students’ perception of the value that a digital program’s goal will add to their lives can greatly influence the degree to which those students will be motivated.

“Educational technology products should be rich in elements that support intrinsic motivation, rather than ‘chocolate covered broccoli’ which simply sweetens the learning with a sugar coating of badges and stickers,” said Dr. Kazakoff. “Remembering the questions shared, as well as the tenets from Self Determination Theory of competence, autonomy, and relatedness, can help parents and educators navigate the digital landscape to find educational technology tools that are engaging and effective in generating authentic learning, not just providing edutainment.”

A complimentary copy of “The Importance of Intrinsic Student Motivation When Selecting Educational Technologies” can be downloaded at http://www.lexialearning.com/download-motivation-wp.

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Charles Sosnik, Learning Counsel Editor