Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

What's My Motivation?

Teresa Lansford, Sherry Franklin | Published: September 15th, 2022 by K20 Center


Students learn about their motivations by playing Would You Rather, completing a motivation inventory, and sorting extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. They apply their knowledge to create a vision board for completing a task.

Essential Question

How can we stay motivated to complete a task?

Learning Goals

  • Analyze what motivates us to do our best work.

  • Apply our understanding of motivation to make a plan to encourage us to do our best work.

Materials List

  • Activity Slides (attached)

  • What Motivates You handout (attached; 1 per student printed front and back)

  • Card Sort handout (attached; 1 per group)

  • Exit Ticket handout (attached; cut and provide one per student)

  • Scissors (1-2 per group)

  • Materials for Vision Boards: magazines, markers, pens


10 Minute(s)

Using the attached Activity Slides, share the essential question and learning objectives on slides 3-4.

Using slides 5-7, have students participate in a game of "Would You Rather?" Go through the slides one by one. Ask the question of each slide and have students make a choice. Have students move around the room based on their choice (left for one choice, right for the other) or just stay at their seats. Ask several students: "Why did you choose the one that you did?" or "What was the reasoning behind your choice?"

Move to slide 8. Share with students: "There are some things we like doing more than others. When we don’t enjoy things as much, we have to find ways to motivate ourselves to finish strong anyway."

Point out the three Would You Rather questions on the slide. Ask students: "What would you need to have to motivate you to pick the other choice?" Give students time to respond and share their reasoning.


15 Minute(s)

Move to slide 9 and pass out the attached What Motivates You? handout to each student. Inform students that this is a motivation inventory that will help them learn what things motivate them. Explain that for each set of two they need to make a choice of what they would prefer. They can only pick one per pair. Give students time to fill out the inventory and total their results on the last page.

Move to slide 10. Have students share their reflections on what they noticed. Ask students the following questions:

  • What were your top 2 results?

  • Did anything surprise you?


15 Minute(s)

Move to slide 11 and share with students that their inventory responses to the Would You Rather included two types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Go over the definitions of both extrinsic and intrinsic with students. Inform students that there are pros and cons to both types of motivation.

For example:

  • Extrinsic can be expensive and intrinsic can sometimes be hard to find.

  • Intrinsic motivation helps us sustain our goals even when the "carrot" runs out or isn’t motivating anymore.

  • Examples of intrinsic motivation can be a desire to please, succeed, complete a task, or be seen as dependable.

Display slide 12. Introduce students to the Card Sort instructional strategy. Divide students into groups of 3-4. Hand out the attached Card Sort handout. Give students time to cut out the cards for their group. Inform students that they will be sorting the cards by extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and can use the two cards with the definitions to label their groups. As students sort the cards, encourage them to discuss the pros and cons of each type of motivation. Once all groups are done, take time to share out as a class what each group discussed.


30 Minute(s)

Share with students that one way to keep motivation, both extrinsic and intrinsic, in mind is by making a Vision Board. A vision board records our goals and motivation for a task. Display slide 13. Inform students that they will create a Vision Board. Let students know they will share their finished vision boards with the group. Provide students with materials and time to create their vision boards.

Once all students have completed their boards, allow time for them to share their vision boards with the class.


5 Minute(s)

Move to slide 14. Inform students they will complete an Exit Ticket. Ask students the following question: "How did making a vision board help you think about the motivation for your goals?" Pass out the attached Exit Ticket handout to each student. Give students time to answer the question. Collect the tickets to check for understanding.

Research Rationale

Regardless of the focus of the extracurricular activity, club participation can lead to higher grades (Durlak et al., 2010; Fredricks & Eccles, 2006; Kronholz, 2012), and additional benefits are possible when these clubs explore specific curricular frameworks. Club participation enables students to acquire and practice skills beyond a purely academic focus. It also affords them opportunities to develop skills such as self-regulation, collaboration, problem-solving, and critical thinking (Allen et al., 2019). When structured with a strong curricular focus, high school clubs can enable participants to build the critical social skills and "21st-century skills" that better position them for success in college and the workforce (Allen et al., 2019; Durlak et al., 2010; Hurd & Deutsch, 2017). Supportive relationships between teachers and students can be instrumental in developing a student's sense of belonging (Pendergast et al., 2018; Wallace et al., 2012), and these support systems enable high-need, high-opportunity youth to establish social capital through emotional support, connection to valuable information resources, and mentorship in a club context (Solberg et al., 2021). Through a carefully designed curriculum that can be implemented within the traditional club structure, students stand to benefit significantly as they develop critical soft skills.