Lighting A Fire: The Power of Intrinsic Motivation in Online Teaching

34 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2019 Last revised: 7 Mar 2019

See all articles by Margaret Ryznar

Margaret Ryznar

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Yvonne Dutton

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Date Written: January 2, 2019

Abstract

Motivation is important to success in many endeavors, and the field of education is no exception. The literature establishes that students who are motivated to learn enjoy more success in their courses and master course content and skills better than students who lack such motivation. But what causes one student to be more motivated than another? This Article addresses this question in the context of law students, focusing in particular on how teachers can increase student “intrinsic” motivation through interesting and engaging course content, as well as regular and consistent formative assessments and feedback. It surveys the literature on motivating students to learn, contributing original empirical data from student surveys and focus groups. Analysis of that data supports the literature on intrinsic motivation, showing that interesting and engaging course content and regular assessments and feedback motivate students to learn and master course content and skills. Indeed, our data collected from over 300 law students shows that students want professors to provide them with intrinsic motivators in their courses. Specifically, student comments evidence that students crave interesting and engaging course content, as well as opportunities for assessment and feedback. We share those comments and suggest techniques to help law professors design online courses that will motivate students and ensure they are engaged and learning course content.

Keywords: empirical, teaching, online teaching, online class, online course, technology, pedagogy

Suggested Citation

Ryznar, Margaret and Dutton, Yvonne, Lighting A Fire: The Power of Intrinsic Motivation in Online Teaching (January 2, 2019). Syracuse Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3309011 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3309011

Margaret Ryznar (Contact Author)

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law ( email )

530 West New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States

Yvonne Dutton

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law ( email )

530 West New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States

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