Which is better...motivating ourselves to learn simply for the benefits that learning provides, or motivating ourselves to learn because of the positive outcomes of furthering our education?
The answer isn't a simple one.
Does one "type" of motivation overrule the other? Especially as college students, we should ask ourselves why we're really here. What motivates us to be here?
Going to college was a choice, a privilege. Did we choose to go because we simply love learning and want to gain more knowledge? Because we find enjoyment in learning or want to master something and learn new skills? That's our intrinsic motivation.
Or were there other factors driving us? Perhaps the possible job prospects after receiving a college degree, using that degree to enter higher levels of education, or maybe you just felt that it was the next "logical" step in your life. That's all extrinsic.
But what happens when you're no longer motivated extrinsically? You lose interest, because there's nothing to gain for YOU. Many educators across America believe that while a mix of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is good for students, it should really be intrinsic motivation driving students in school. Because once the reward of good grades or other accolades is gone, what else will drive the students?
According to an article about educators and motivation, "Students' intrinsic motivation is enhanced when practices promote their sense of personal autonomy, when schoolwork is challenging and relevant to students...Practices that promote these environmental characteristics include providing students with choices among activities and between ways of completing tasks, encouraging students to explore and pursue their interests, building on their backgrounds and prior experiences in constructing tasks, encouraging them to collaborate, incorporating fantasy in activities..."
It's also implied that students who are intrinsically motivated tend to "burn out" less because of other motivations besides grades and approval.
So ask yourself while you're finishing a paper at 3 am or studying for a mid-term...WHY are you doing this? Why is this important to you? WHAT is driving you?
I think figuring out why we're motivated to do what we do can really change our outlook on our education and other aspects of our lives as well.