Intrinsic Value

Intrinsic value often results from the enjoyment an activity produces for the participant (Wigfield, 1994). When students enjoy scholastic tasks, they are intrinsically motivated to do well. Both interests and personal relevance produce intrinsic value for a student. Generally, students are intrinsically motivated to pursue activities that are moderately novel, interesting, enjoyable, exciting, and optimally challenging. When schoolwork is too easy, students become bored. When tasks are too difficult, students become frustrated and anxious (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Teachers should try to create classroom environments that foster intrinsic motivation by providing students with opportunities to engage in interesting, personally relevant, challenging activities. Students bring a variety of experiences and interests to the classroom, and learning becomes personally meaningful when students’ prior knowledge and diverse experiences are connected with their present learning experiences. Educators can do this by creating an enriching environment and providing opportunities for students to explore their interests. In a recent study, researchers used self-selected enrichment projects based on students’ interests as a systematic intervention for underachieving gifted students. This approach specifically targeted student strengths and interests and helped reverse academic underachievement in over half of the sample (Baum, Renzulli, & Hebert, 1995). Emerick (1992) also found underachievers responded well to “interventions incorporating educational modifications which focus on individual strengths and interests” (p. 140).