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For the love of learning: Intrinsic motivation in the secondary language arts classroom

14 December 1992


This project examines the role of intrinsic motivation in the secondary language arts classroom. Based on observations made over a five-week period at a small, rural high school in the Northwest, the study finds that the love of learning is largely absent from the English classroom. High school students are interested in sports, recreation, arts, and most of all, one another. They learn best by doing, and they are eager to acquire skills and knowledge for which they can see a practical purpose. They enjoy learning English most when it involves group work, discussion, art and other projects. However, interests that are central to students are often peripheral to schools. Living in a culture that values external behavior over intrinsic experience, working in a classroom structure directed by the teacher, and studying a curriculum defined by the school, students forfeit much of the responsibility and joy of learning. The study concludes that students' intrinsic motivation to learn language arts can be enhanced. Students should be empowered with greater freedom and guidance in making educational choices, and educators should redefine curricula and methods to meet the social, developmental, and personal needs of young adults. These changes would be consistent with current directions in education.


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