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September 18, 2018

Using Personalized Learning to Increase Intrinsic Motivation

Let me ask you a few questions…How motivated would you be to learn a new skill your supervisor demanded you learn? Would your motivation level be high or low if the skill you needed to learn was of no interest to you? What would you think if your supervisor could not provide a reason for you to learn the skill? Would you be motivated if you had to learn the skill the exact way your supervisor learns best?

These situations occur daily in our schools! Teachers are told what to teach and how to teach it, and then students are told what to learn and how to learn it.

What if I told you there is another way to teach and learn that can increase intrinsic motivation?

You want to keep reading, don’t you?!I believe personalized learning increases intrinsic motivation, butby all means, youdecide…

Check out the definition of personalized learning created bythe Institute for Personalized Learning:

An approach to learning and instruction that is designed around individual learner readiness, strengths, needs, andinterests. Learners areactiveparticipants in setting goals, planning learning paths, tracking progress, anddetermining how learning will be demonstrated. At any given time, learning objectives, content, methods, and pacing are likely to vary from learner to learner as theypursueproficiency aligned with established standards. A fully personalized learning environment moves beyond both differentiation and individualization.

Now, think about this, according to Personalize Learning, LLC, thelearnerdoes the following:

  • Drivestheir own learning
  • Connects learning withinterests, talents, passions,and aspirations
  • Actively participates in the design of their learning
  • Is accountableandresponsible for their learning that includes theirvoice and choiceon how and what they learn
  • Identifies goals for their learning plan and benchmarks as they progress along their learning path with guidance from teacher
  • Acquires the skills toselect and use the appropriate technology and resourcesto support andenhancetheirlearning
  • Builds anetwork of peers, experts and teachers to guide and support their learning
  • Demonstrates mastery of content in acompetencybased system
  • Becomes aself-directed,expert learnerwho monitors progress andreflectson learning based on mastery of content and skills

Lastly, consider the seven elements of learner agency (which is the goal of personalized learning) outlined by Bray and McClaskey in their book,How to Personalize Learning:

  1. Voice (Do you mean the learner gets to be heard? YES!!)
  2. Choice (The learner decides what, when and HOW they learn.)
  3. Engagement(We all STRIVE for this as teachers.)
  4. Motivation (See! It’sactually oneof the elements of personalized learning in and of itself!)
  5. Ownership(Put your learners in the driver’s seat!)
  6. Purpose (Understanding WHY I’m learning something increases my intrinsic motivation.)
  7. Self-efficacy(The end goal here is self-confidence and perseverance!)

By now, I’m sure I’ve convinced you that personalized learning can increase intrinsic motivation. Maybe you are intrinsically motivated to learn more! If so, check out some of our Personalized Continuing Ed Courses:


Bray, B., & McClaskey, K. (2017).How to personalize learning: A practical guide for getting started and going deeper. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Rickabaugh, J. (2016).Tapping the power of personalized learning: A roadmap for school leaders. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


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