Feedback is a very important extrinsic motivator. As we see in Ariely’s example with the paper experiment, by just receiving an affirmative “uh-huh,” individuals are willing to work for almost half the amount of money. I think there is this motivation in both school and DukeEngage work. While there are no grades given in DukeEngage, there has still been the acknowledgement of whether or not the work is completed and how well it is done. By receiving feedback from our community partners and program directors, we are driven to do our best work, just as we are in school. I think both in school and in DukeEngage the reciprocal relationship involves doing work that is asked of us and receiving knowledge and experience in return. I think that this reciprocity makes me feel good about the work that I am doing and are similar between school and DukeEngage.
However, we are also motivated intrinsically by feeling good about what we are doing, and I think that this is a very large part of DukeEngage and less of a part of school. A lot of the work done in school we are doing for ourselves, whereas the work that I am doing this summer is for other people. An interesting extension of Ariely’s Lego experiment would be how many Legos individuals would build if they knew that they were being given to other people, rather than torn apart. I think it is easy to imagine that people would build many more Legos for a very low price if they knew they were being given to others. I think this is a big factor in the difference between the “Meaningful” and “Sisyphus” results. Even though both groups know that their Lego is going to be taken apart, the meaningful group can see their product accumulating and can imagine that it may be used for something besides being taken apart. It is extremely rewarding to see my work this summer building the relationship between my community partner and our cohort. This giving of work that is meaningful to us is a large motivator that is not seen in most schoolwork.
It stood out to me that in the “Sisyphus” experiment, a love of Legos did not correlate to more Bionicles built. I do not think this accurately represents work done in school and in DukeEngage because the work we are doing is not all exactly the same. In DukeEngage, the tasks that we are doing are ones that we are genuinely interested in, and if there is a love for this topic, something different can be learned from each task. Therefore, I think a large motivator that Ariely does not express is the motivation to gain experience. When working on a topic that we love, each task teaches us something new. In both DukeEngage and in school, I think we would see more work being done based on how much an individual loves the topic.