WHAT ARE INTRINSIC AND EXTRINSIC
Intrinsic Rewards are rewards that
aren’t tangible. These rewards are often
seen in the form of encouraging words,
compliments, and pointing out the
Extrinsic rewards are tangible rewards.
These rewards are often seen in the
form of stickers, snacks, or being able
to do something special.
This source wasn’t an education source. It was business based.
Employers use rewards all of the time when trying to motivate their
employees. According to this source intrinsic rewards promote a sense of
achievement, allow employees to feel recognized, and help employees
take pride in their job. Extrinsic rewards motivate employees by raising
salaries, giving bonuses, improving work conditions, and giving
This source discussed intrinsic and extrinsic rewards from only an
academic stand point. It commented on how teachers often use reward
systems for the number of books children read, or homework they
complete, in a certain amount of time. This would be considered an
extrinsic reward. Ecologyofeducation.net also stated that extrinsic rewards
are easier to establish once teachers know what their students are willing
to work for. However, it does little for the long run.
One of the most impacting things I found, when reading this source, was a comparison
of the pros and cons of using both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.
- Long lasting
- Self sustaining
- Efforts focus on subject instead of
- Slow to effect behavior
- Can require lengthy preparation
- May need other methods to
- More readily produce changes in behavior
- Require less preparation
- Doesn’t usually require knowledge of individual
- Distract from learning subject at hand
- Needs escalated over time
- Once extrinsic reward is removed so it the
SOURCE # 3 CONTINUED
“Extrinsic rewards can have a negative impact on intrinsic motivation.”
The example used to support this statement was a study done by a psychologist
named Edward Deci. He paid a group of college students to a certain amount for each
puzzle they solved. He had another group of college students solve puzzles without getting
paid. Once the study was over, the students who were paid to solve puzzles no longer
desired to solve them. The students who weren’t paid continued to solve the puzzles.
However, there was nothing mentioned about how many puzzles each group solved.
This source suggested that people are born with curiosity to learn
about the world. However many students no longer have a desire to learn
once they reach school age. The article suggests that this is due to
extrinsic rewards, because giving children a reward for doing something
are already interested in makes them less interested in the subject. It
emphasizes that rewards should be given to effort not quality.
SOURCE #4 CONTINUED
“Teachers need to provide structure and assistance, without completely controlling
every learning activity. Neither extreme of the totally teacher-directed or the
completely child-centered classroom seen in many early childhood programs is
optimal for promoting motivation and self-regulation.”
After gathering all of this information I was left with a lot of questions.
I was unable to find anything that specifically told me which reward was
appropriate for which situation. Much of the information I found was
strictly academic based and didn’t analyze the behavior aspect of intrinsic
and extrinsic rewards. However, all of the sources talked about the
negative and positive sides to using both rewards. Most of the sources
also made it clear that intrinsic motivation needed to be more personal,
and extrinsic rewards could be used more broadly.
Vygotsky’s theory of a zone of proximal
development, focuses on scaffolding and
teaching appropriate behavior through
social interactions. This could be seen by
using intrinsic rewards to point out when a
child is doing what is expected and socially
appropriate. Extrinsic rewards could also be
used to reward children for making positive
choices. However, the information I
gathered may point out that children are
only making positive choices in order to
receive a reward.
Piaget’s theory of developmental stages
would put children in preschool in the
preoperational stage of development. In this
stage children are unable to grasp abstract
concepts. This leads me to believe that
Piaget would focus on extrinsic rewards to
redirect behaviors. I think this because
intrinsic rewards, and doing things because
it’s the right thing, are an abstract concept.
Children struggle with not being able to
physically touch or see something in this
After analyzing all of the information gathered, I think both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards need
to be used in early childhood classrooms. Ever since I have been in the field, I have been told we
can’t use extrinsic rewards in early childhood. Every time I asked why, I was given the same answer.
“We want children to be motivated to do things on their own, not because they receive a reward.”
However, that’s not how life works. Extrinsic rewards are used our entire lives. They are seen at
home, work, in every elementary classroom, and in the workplace. It is unreasonable to only use
intrinsic rewards in an early childhood classroom.
Some of the sources stated that providing an extrinsic reward makes children less interested in
doing something when the reward isn’t present. However, none of the sources mention what to do
if a child isn’t interested in doing something before there is an extrinsic reward present. They also
don’t mention what to do if some children are motivated with intrinsic rewards, but the other half
of your class is not.
At some point early childhood programs need to reassess their stance
on extrinsic rewards, because many children are not motivated to behave
in a safe way without an extrinsic reward present. Therefore, early
childhood teachers are left constantly giving intrinsic rewards while half of
their classrooms are out of control. One of the sources even stated that
these rewards should both be used in balance. Intrinsic rewards should
always be present in early childhood classrooms, because they provide
children with encouragement.
BusinessTopia. (2017). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Rewards with Examples |
Businesstopia. Retrieved from https://www.businesstopia.net/human-
Carlton, M. P., & Winsler, A. (1998). Early Childhood Education Journal, 25(3),
Ecology of Education. (2017). Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic. The Challenge of
Motivation. | Ecology of Education. Retrieved from
Vanderbilt University. (2017). Motivating Students | Center for Teaching |
Vanderbilt University. Retrieved from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-