|2014-09-01||Steve Gardiner||Tips on Student Motivation--Part 1|
This is Part 1 of the three-part series on student motivation.
Tips for Fostering Student Motivation
There are moments that make teaching the best profession in the world. A room full of students with books and ereaders in front of them are deeply involved in silent reading. A lab of students stare at computer monitors as a symphony of clicking keys reflect thoughts being organized and expressed. Small groups of students struggle with the meaning of a book chapter, sharing ideas about an author's meaning and purpose. Times like these, when students are motivated, engaged, and productive, are the ones that teachers live for.
Student motivation is the subject of many journal articles, convention presentations, and teacher discussions. It is a critical topic because motivation is tied closely to student engagement, behavior, discipline, attendance, learning, and achievement. It is also closely tied to teacher job satisfaction and retention in the profession.
Motivation is complex
One of the problems, however, is that motivation is a complex topic. It can't be seen. It can't be touched. It is a hypothetical construct which cannot be measured precisely and can, at best, be judged by what students say and do (Wlodkowski, 1999).
For many parents and teachers, motivation means rewards--giving stickers or prizes, allowing a privilege, or providing a word of praise (Kohn, 1999). This type of motivation is extrinsic motivation, and because the student actions are based on receiving the external reward, the motivation usually ceases as soon as the rewards stop showing up. This type of motivation is excessive, and is most often detrimental to students (Pink, 2009).
Striving for genuine motivation
What we really want is intrinsic motivation, genuine motivation that comes from within the student and creates curiosity, inspiration, and engagement (Deci, 1995). The problem is that many students don't feel that intrinsic motivation. In fact, of the 42,754 students from 27 states who participated in the Survey of Student Engagement (Yazzi-Mintz, 2010), 49% reported being bored in school every day and 17% reported being bored in every class. Only 2% of high school students taking the survey stated that they were never bored in school. So what can be done to remove the boredom and increase the intrinsic motivation of students in our schools?