Extrinsic motivation; why it’s the best approach

Students warm up for a class session;verbal and non verbal praises also help students get encouraged

Giving rewards or motivating students, experts say helps to promote positive and appropriate behaviour among them, and yield better results when it comes to the success of any learner.

For instance, they say when a student is well behaved; it is easier to excel in whatever they do unlike when they are in disciplined.


Among the best ways to ensure students remain on the right track as far as academics are concerned, is to try using extrinsic motivation approach.


Why it’s important


At G.S Nemba secondary school Gakenke, in Northern Province, they have put his approach into practice, and students are always applauded whenever they do something good, follow the rules set by teachers among other petty things that are impressive.

According to Jean Albert Musambi,a French teacher at the school, they normally do this not only to students who have done well, but also those who are willing and have even tried in whatever task they undertook.

“For us as a school, by using this approach, we have seen a lot of improvement, not only in academics but also in other areas in general which is vital when it comes to the success of a learner,” he says.

He says that for him, even when he enters the class and sees how well it’s arranged and cleaned, he encourages them to do the same even at home. This according him makes the learning environment clean and condusive, thus better concentration level.

Musambi notes that through the reward based approach, learners will always show interest and greater participation in whatever they are doing, be it in the classroom or outside classroom.

He says that sometimes it’s hard for teachers to find better ways of motivating students to learn, but when this approach is used, there will definitely be more effort on the side of the learner.

According to a research by teach.com an online study, students who are not motivated will not learn effectively. They won’t retain information, won’t participate and some of them may even become disruptive.

The study goes on to point out that motivated students are more excited to learn and participate thus teaching a class full of motivated learners is enjoyable for teachers and students alike.

Rewarding students motivates them to work harder./ Courtesy

How should they be motivated?

Fiona Muragijemariya, a biology and chemistry teacher in Kigali, says that teachers should come up with criteria which should be followed on how students should be awarded, and this should be either at the end of a certain session, such as at the end of a lesson.

Depending on the financial capability of certain schools, she says some should go for verbal and written praises rather than other things which can be bought.

Muragijemariya says that there is also capitation grant, the money from the government, which she says schools should be used in other areas of motivating students, which they think are priority.

She notes that teachers should as well write symbols like stars, grades among others which have different meaning in note books or papers of learners to show them if they have improved or not.

“This is just one way of giving feedback to a student, and will help them find out areas in which they can improve and what is needed to continue working hard,” she says.

She adds that the greater the award or how common a student is praised, the more the learners work hard in order to be recognized.

This, according to her, creates competition among the learners which also help them to do research in different domains in order to get additional information in which they will use in competing with their fellow students.

Musambi notes that these external rewards also include praise from teachers or even parents, given to the students after doing or accomplishing certain tasks.


Collins Barminga, a teacher of biology and chemistry at Mother Mary Complex in Kibagabaga says instructors normally get overwhelmed with students who can’t follow simple instructions such as following class rules, being honest, among others.

However, he says that this, a teacher can rectify it if there are rewards or motivation given to all learners, especially those who even show interest in improving on how they conduct themselves.

“These simple issues can be an obstacle for teachers to carry out their duty with ease, especially when they are handling students with such habits. However, finding the best approach on how to maintain discipline is important and one of them I believe is by recognizing a simple effort made by a learner,” he says.

He adds that such approaches include rewarding or motivating the learners especially when they have observed all the rules and regulations set by a teacher.

On the other hand, Emmanuella Uwamahoro, a Kigali based mentor and counselor for youth, feels that rewards are also ways of motivating a system teachers should use to inspire learners to do better in academics and non academic work.

She adds that by doing so, they create a conducive atmosphere in classroom where each and every student will be eager to learn and they will become active throughout the entire lesson, which ensures that they grasp easily whatever they are taught.

“A motivated learner always makes an effort of wanting to know more, thus improves the way they learn, in either the classroom or outside the school environment,” she says.

What to reward

Interestingly, Uwamahoro says that rewards should not only be things of high value, they can be anything that motivates the child, including simple praises.

Some simple expressions such as very good, excellent, good trial, keep up among others should often be used, according to her.

When this has been observed, she says teachers are able to concentrate on lesson content and interactive activities to indulge students in learning, which improves learning in general.

Other things she says, include handshake, making other students clap for those who have done well, a teacher nodding to work well done, among others.

On the other hand, Musambi says that finding a way of making the whole class happy is vital and that when a student is happy, they will always be motivated to work hard.

In order to have a class which is happy, he says using of reward system should be applied.

For instance, he says instructors ought to encourage learners to be productive in learning and this should happen both at home and school.

He explains that rewards tend to create a feeling of pride and achievement at the same time, thus making them become more productive.

Apart from just increasing the concentration level of students, Geoffrey Kalisa, an English teacher in Northern Province says motivation and rewards help students become eager to know more.

He says it’s not mandatory to reward students with expensive things, instead they should opt for things such as giving them note books, pens among other scholastic materials that also facilitate learning.

Kalisa notes that again, this should be changed when students continue to perform well.

For instance, he says that because students come from financially unstable families, teachers can introduce rewards such as giving them things like  chicken, goats or even sheep, which will help increase the production in the their families.

“This is important because it motivates learners by making them want to try, and creates a positive learning environment where learners feel valued in active learning a positive reinforcement,” he says.


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