Student Motivation

By  Morgan Wentz, Intern with the IWP, First-Year College Student

As a first year student with my freshman year coming to an end, I have realized that being motivated is an important factor when it comes to being successful as a student at this university. For me, motivation is driven by more than the grade I will receive for my work. I want to produce the best work I possibly can and be satisfied that I did all I could do for that class and assignment. I haven’t always applied myself like this though. Before coming to college I didn’t have the urge to push myself. I always did what I had to do to get the assignment completed. I was a good student but I procrastinated often and put little thought into assignments, I just got them done. The reason that it changed when I got to the university level was because I was aware that I chose to be here. Yes, my parents always pushed me to do my best and not going to college was rarely discussed but I know that getting this education is on my time.

I am here to be an active participant in my education.

There are two types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Being extrinsically motivated means that someone is motivated by something outside of themselves such as the grade they will receive on an assignment or any form of reward received for doing something. Being extrinsically motivated is not a bad thing. For example, it can boost self-esteem to receive some sort of reward at the end of a task. In high school, I did what I could to get the best grade possible. Grades, an external factor, motivated me to be a better student. Along with the good grades came a certain grade point average and therefor got me on the honor roll. It made me feel good that I was being recognized and rewarded for my grades. At this time in my education I believe being extrinsically motivated helped me be a better student because eventually it grew into intrinsic motivation.

Being intrinsically motivated means that the motivation comes from within a person such as satisfaction for completing something they worked very hard on or bettering themselves in general. I first noticed myself being intrinsically motivated when I started my first job. I was and still am a swim instructor at a private swim school back home. Yes, at first I was extrinsically motivated by the paycheck but as I started training and taking on my own classes that motivation began to come from within. Swimming is a skill that someone will have for their whole entire life and I realized that I was responsible for teaching them that skill. I became motivated by the satisfaction I would feel for the child or adult I was working with when they achieved something that they were having trouble with. I shared their happiness and, in return their happiness pushed me.

I would say that I am an intrinsically motivated student. I don’t say this to put myself on some sort of pedestal; I put myself in this category because I feel no satisfaction or improvement in myself when I simply just do the bare minimum to get my work done. The first time I did the best I possibly could was in my fall semester in English 105. The class brought out a passion for writing that I had always had within me and over the course of the class my writing skills improved. The reason I say that I did the best I possibly could in this class is because I took the time to create an outline, did multiple revisions, and met with my instructor whether it was an appointment or office hours. I strive to better myself as a student because that is important to me. I want to be engaged in whatever I may be doing so I truly understand the material I am being given.

Shouldn’t students want to be engaged in their education?

I realize that I cannot speak on behalf of my peers because I am only one student in a pool of thousands, and I am not the only intrinsically motivated student at this university. I do want my peers to understand the importance of being motivated from within because it will not only help them at the university level but in their future career and more importantly their life. It is important for students to realize this early so they create good habits and put themselves in positions to be successful outside of the university. I want my peers to be successful because they have no reason not to be. They need to become independent because from the university level on they are just one person. Yes, students can be identified with different groups they are a part of but they are still one person in a sea of many. They need to distinguish themselves. The reason I say that is because I got a chance to learn that this semester being a part of the Interdisciplinary Writing Program (IWP). IWP allowed me to realize that diversity is key because it allows students to showcase many different talents and interests they have.



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