How Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory can be applied in your class
March 24, 2023
5 min read
Knowing how to motivate people is the secret sauce to getting work done. Most times, people find it difficult to motivate themselves, so driving someone else towards their goals might seem like a herculean task. However, with the many theories that have evolved about motivational psychology and social behaviors - such as Maslow’s, the secret sauce could be within your reach.
In 1959, American psychologist Frederick Herzberg proposed the two-factor theory of motivation, which classified the factors critical to motivation into
Hygiene factors are extrinsic or external factors that people wish to avoid in order to avoid discomfort, pain and unpleasantness. For example, dealing with poor leadership or working at a company with frequent layoffs is something most people want to avoid and is an example of a hygiene factor. While they do not necessarily provide positive motivation, their absence in the workplace leads to dissatisfaction. Thus, these are physiological factors that are not directly concerned with the job but must be present in the workplace to prevent dissatisfaction.
Hygiene factors include:
These are intrinsic factors that are not present in the workplace environment but are inherent to the job itself. The fulfillment of these emotional needs internally rewards the employees to do better and to feel better and in turn, leads to positive satisfaction.
Motivational factors include:
Businesses and organizations have increasingly relied on Herzberg’s approach to motivate their employees and boost morale and productivity. However, this theory is also a great tool when used by teachers and educators in the class to motivate learners. Here's how this theory can be modified and adapted to best suit our classrooms.
When it comes to hygiene factors, the way the teacher organizes and oversees the class is of prime importance. Class management must be fair and reasonable - neither too rigid nor too flexible. Class rules and expectations must be clearly communicated (for example - comprehensible rubrics for marking assignments), keeping in mind the students’ requirements, limitations and capabilities.
This is, in essence, the equivalent to the physiological needs on Maslow's hierarchy. The physical environment in which a student learns must be clean, tidy, safe and conducive to learning. Classes must be well-equipped with the necessary hardware and software, properly maintained and up-to-date. Considering the role technology plays in education in today’s digital age, the use of ed-tech in the class can assuredly engage students and greatly enhance the quality of learning.
The second level in Maslow's hierarchy of needs corresponds to safety and security. Since students spend a considerable amount of time at school and at classes, it is imperative that they feel safe and secure there. Students who feel a sense of uncertainty and insecurity tend to be distracted, hindering the process of learning. They are less motivated to be at a place where they fear being judged or bullied or feel like they don't belong. Thus, creating a secure environment is essential to ensure that students are actively receptive to learning.
The third level of Maslow’s hierarchy - love and belonging needs - also emphasizes the importance of relations. Positive relationships with teachers as well as peers are fundamental for a student to thrive not just academically, but also on the personal front. Creating a warm, healthy environment in which each member of the learning community feels supported and appreciated ensures better attendance, grades, and scores and boosts overall happiness and well-being.
Acknowledging and praising student work and accomplishments makes them feel seen and appreciated and encourages them to push themselves to perform better. Both student performance and participation are improved when students receive the necessary, relevant feedback and are rewarded for their achievements and also for other qualities like effort, improvement and teamwork. Showing learners that their efforts are recognized - by both, their peers and their teachers - will help them feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in what they are doing.
Attaining a goal that one has worked hard to realize is a feeling of great pride and joy. Feeling a sense of progress and success builds consistency, confidence and competence among students. Moreover, it ignites the motivation to work enthusiastically to achieve further.
Empowering students to take initiative and responsibility of their own learning, as opposed to being driven by external stimuli - such as a teacher or a curriculum, nurtures them into independent and accountable individuals. Teacher-supported autonomy is a great way to increase motivation and academic success and enhance engagement and interest in learning.
A good education plays a key role in determining the quality of an individual's life. It builds not only his knowledge, intellect and skills, but also his character, opinions and attitude. Thus, the meaningfulness and impactfulness of education is paramount in motivating students and drawing them into the fascinating world of boundless knowledge.
Dealing with students is not very different from dealing with employees. The presence of just one set of factors without the other will not tip the scale. The ideal situation would be a combination of high hygiene and hygiene motivation. In order to create a stimulating environment for our learners to thrive in, it's imperative that we are aware, responsive and adaptive to their needs. Tailoring your class to accommodate a high level of hygiene factors and motivators can prove to be highly effective in the long run.