What has happened in the lives of these students to keep the curiosity fires burning? Because I couldn't shake this question, I conducted a research study exploring the experiences of those students who had maintained the inner desire to seek information into their last year of elementary school (Crow 2009). According to psychologists who study intrinsic motivation, three psychological needs must be met in order for people to be motivated internally: autonomy, competence, and, in a foundational sense, relate dness (Deci and Ryan 1985).
Keeping Current Fostering the Curiosity Spark by Sherry R. Crow P rimary children can be a real “high”—at least I found it to be so during the thirty years I spent working with them. behind doing something for its inher- ent satisfaction and is displayed when a person feels the “urge” to do a crossword puzzle, play a game, or look for more information about an interesting news story. Developmentalists say that people performs for the medal, the artist paints for the money—or students seek infor- mation not for the joy of knowing, but rather for an “A.” Considering society’s obsession with testing, standards, and grades, is it any wonder that students’ are born with this “urge” to investigate inner zest for learning decreases? Their little wiggling bodies the world and that it helps us to learn, to showed their excitement grow, and to survive. It is this force that is seen exhibited by primary students as Pursuing the Question every time they visited the they exuberantly explore the world of Yet some students continue to be library. Simple questions curious. Their pursuit seems endless and information. insatiable, regardless of the external de- about almost any topic, from mands of the educational system. What bugs to trains to the latest- The Effect has happened in the lives of these stu- trick-their-pet-can-do elicit- of Extrinsic Motivators dents to keep the curiosity fires burning? Because I couldn’t shake this question, ed lively responses that stim- on Intrinsic Motivation I conducted a research study explor- ulated them to look for facts However, the reality is that many of ing the experiences of those students on the Web and in books. the things done in daily life are done for who had maintained the inner desire to extrinsic reasons. People get up when seek information into their last year of Introducing these children to the alarm sounds because they have elementary school (Crow 2009). the world of information was jobs. Students study to get good grades; I began with a pool of 178 fifth grade a joyful enterprise—for them they do chores for allowance money. students from three diverse schools in Naturally, extrinsic motivators are part a mid-sized Colorado city. I surveyed and for me. of life, but the “rub” is that researchers them to determine the reasons they Over time, however, the scenario fre- have found that extrinsic motivators sought information. Of the 100 students quently changed. Many of the children decrease intrinsic motivation (Deci and who took the survey, only nine were in the early grades who marveled at Ryan 1985). found to be highly and distinctly intrin- the plethora of beautiful resources just Intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation sically motivated to seek information. didn’t seem that interested by the time is all about being the
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