Dan Pink is the author of Drive: The Surprising Truth about what motivates us.

His wonderful research on intrinsic motivation has a lot of implications towards our personal lives, in organizations as well as teaching.

In this post, I’d like to share six innovative ideas from his book that you can use or test out in your classroom to boost the intrinsic motivation of your students, which we know is superior to extrinsic motivation in truly motivating our students.

6 Insights and Ideas on boosting Intrinsic Motivation

1. Make homework more interesting and meaningful. Help your students see the big picture. What useful skill or knowledge will they learn from your homework?

Is your homework helping them build mastery over an important skill or is it just some random task that wastes their time?

Finally, giving them some autonomy or choice in their homework can increase their intrinsic motivation to complete it.

So take time to plan out the homework you intend to set them.

2. Devote time for a Project Day. Daniel Pink suggests giving them a day every term or semester wherein they look for problems to solve related to your subject and then report back next day their discoveries and findings. The important thing is that this project is self directed based on their interests or what intrigues them.

intrinsic motivation

3. Stop praising the intelligence of your students. Stop saying, “you’re so intelligent!”.

Instead, praise the strong effort and clever strategy of your students.  Instead of praising them publicly, praise them privately.



By doing praise right, you help boost the intrinsic motivation of your students.

4. Help your students see the big picture and relevance of what you’re teaching them.

Big questions (perspective of students) to guide you:

(a) Why am I learning this?

(b) How is this relevant to the world I live in now?

5. It’s true teaching is the best way to learn or master something. So give your students the opportunity to be teachers. Divide up a broad topic into very distinct aspects and have each of your students presenting parts of topic to the class.

This will surely boost their confidence and presentation skills.

6. In the beginning of the school year, get to know the passions and areas of expertise of your students. Then tap into those throughout the school year. This will boost their confidence and increase their intrinsic motivation.


What do you think of Dan Pink’s ideas on intrinsic motivation for students?

Share in the comments below your thoughts and other suggestions to boost intrinsic motivation 🙂