Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Classroom Issues/Motivation

What is the role of motivation?
Instruction does much, but encouragement does everything.

—Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Teaching is one of the most important professions today. An individual’s education is an essential part of his or her life, that can help shape their outlook on their future. In today’s classroom, keeping children motivated is a main concern for educators. The curiosity and aspiration of students to learn can result from different instructional strategies and various factors in and outside the classroom setting. Teachers should keep in mind that making a positive impact and helping to mold a child’s future is a huge responsibility.

Categories of MotivationEdit

Motivation stimulates the interest of students and inspires them to take part in classroom activities. There are two categories which educators should be familiar with during their teaching process. Intrinsic motivation comes from within individuals, often from the enjoyment for personal goals they have set for themselves. Students with intrinsic motivation are more likely to be excited about completing their assignments for the challenge, and not for any type of incentive. Extrinsic comes from students who are encouraged by rewards, such as stickers, candy, recess or extra credit. Even though intrinsic strategies are most often recommended, teachers should keep in mind that they should build upon both types of motivation in order to achieve the most success .(Brewster & Fager, 2000).

Instructional StrategiesEdit

A child’s desire to learn seems to get smaller as they grow older. There are a variety of strategies that a teacher can utilize to help his or her student’s stay motivated. Assignments should be challenging, but not so difficult that the student will not be able to achieve completion (Lumsden, 1994). In order to avoid being overwhelmed and discouraged, a large task could be broken down into smaller assignments (Brewster & Fager, 2000). When assigning a task, instructors should remember to verbally state the purpose (Lumsden, 1994). Expectations need to be clear, with examples of low, average, and high level work (Brewster & Fager, 2000). One should often provide instruction which is self-paced and allow students various choices for assignments (Fisher, 2003). Children need to realize that there are often many times when there is more than one right answer (Theroux, 1994). It is also important for teachers to show their class how certain skills can relate to their lives outside of the classroom (Lumsden, 1994). They should be able to make connections and feel that their work is valuable.

Project Based LearningEdit

Project-based learning could be incorporated into the curriculum to allow students to share new knowledge with their classmates. A driving question would be asked to make the children wonder and want to participate. Teamwork and problem-solving could provide students with more than a regular lecture (Fisher, 2003). If a teacher used technology in his or her classroom, then different computer programs could present information in an attractive and interesting way. Individuals would also be able to use the computers to complete a project and have pride in their finished product (Theroux, 1994).

Another strategy an educator could consider would be the attribution retraining process. Practice exercises, socialization, and providing models can help discouraged individuals want to learn. It would be beneficial to instruct students to retrace their steps to find mistakes instead of giving into the thought of failure (Lumsden, 1994). In addition to the attribution retraining process, evaluations could be given after assignments are completed. Such feedback needs to be clear. Educators who keep in mind a child’s “basic psychological and intellectual needs” have been noted to be the most successful (Brewster & Fager, 2000). Any one strategy may not be suitable for the classroom as a whole. Individual students are motivated and learn in different ways and paces. Therefore, teachers need to realize that their strategies may have to be changed frequently to meet each student’s needs.

Factors Affecting MotivationEdit

Educators should also be aware that there are other factors which can affect a student’s motivation. The classroom environment plays a large role in one’s learning. It is said to develop the initial attitudes that students have toward their educational career, the classroom should have an atmosphere that acknowledges the differences of individual students. Teachers need to create a climate where their class feels a sense of belonging (Lumsden, 1994). According to Allison Heath, a teacher in Prince George County, Virginia, “respect should be a two way street . . . if a student feels valued, then they are more than likely to be more motivated to take part in class activities” (personal communication, September 17, 2006). With respect established, meaningful relationships can be formed to possibly result in the student feeling a connection with their school. Teacher’s beliefs and understandings are other factors which affect the motivational atmosphere (Brewster & Fager, 2000). Ms. Heath goes on to say that “as a teacher, I think it is important to make sure that my students know what expectations I have of them,” during the course of the year (personal communication, September 17, 2006). By talking to students individually, eagerly answering questions, and frequently incorporating students' thoughts into the lesson, teachers can encourage his/her students' motivation (Brewster & Fager, 2000).

Home EnvironmentEdit

Instructors should also be aware of how each student’s home environment can limit motivation. The level of parental control has been associated with the level of achievement within a child’s classroom (Fisher, 2003). Especially in today’s society, many parents seem to be involved in their job and do not have time to talk about their child’s school day or help them with homework. Unfortunately, some children come from abusive or low income families and their classroom is their only source of comfort or belonging. Former science teacher, Joyce C. Specter, noted the importance of current teachers having an open mind about the circumstances some students may be dealing with at home. She found that she “needed to let them know that they were an important part of [her] life, since [she] could possibly be their only positive role model” (personal communication, September 16, 2006). It is critical for teachers to try to involove parents in order to help them create or sustain the student’s motivation to participate in the learning process (Lumsden, 1994).

GendersEdit

Genders can also effect motivation. Research suggests that boys receive more negative teacher feedback concerning failure to follow directions, whereas girls receive more positive feedback concerning compliance. Males may be discouraged when they receive negative feedback from the teacher. Females usually are praised more when good things are done. This may be because females interact more with teachers and try harder to please teachers than males do. Gender differences in teacher relations are generally less apparent in early grades like elementary, middle, and junior high school and are fairly consistent by high school (Morgan, 2001). Another reason of this may be because females tend to enhance their social skills when interacting with teachers. This pattern of increasing consistency in gender differences in students' motivation to work with teachers across grade levels suggests that these gender differences are at least partially an outcome of differential socialization practices.

Effects of MotivationEdit

People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.

—Zig Zigler

Once motivation is properly established, it can have a positive influence on students' lives. Differences in attitudes and an increased energy start to show (Fisher, 2003). Through various strategies, students will begin to feel more confident about being able to learn new concepts. Teachers should see students putting forth more effort and signs of thinking more deeply. Instead of taking part in an assignment of low level difficulty, students may choose more challenging tasks. With encouragement, individuals will be more likely to complete assignments, rather than giving up when they assume failure. They should be more prepared for daily activities and find material more interesting. Ultimately, teachers should notice that the motivational strategies can lead to higher grades and a higher possibility that students will want to learn outside of the classroom setting (Brewster & Fager, 2000).

ConclusionEdit

In the world of education, the probability of knowing that one will succeed is important to an individual. In order to succeed, students need to have motivation to participate in learning. There are a variety of strategies and actions teachers can implement; however, educators should always remember that everyone has different learning styles and ways of being motivated. The various strategies can, in some way, help students in their learning process by eliminating the boredom of repetitive assignments or lectures. Teaching is a profession with a great task of being able to stimulate the minds of children, which includes gaining their interest and making them a positive part of one’s life.

Multiple Choice Questions:Edit

Click to reveal the answer.

Nolan is excited about the challenge his teacher has presented to the class. He has a personal goal, which he has set for himself, to bring up his grade and make himself proud. This category of motivation is_____________.
A. Extrinsic
B. Egocentric
C. Inspirational
D. Intrinsic

D. Intrinsic

Ms. Powers announces a reward of stickers and candy for those students who complete all of their homework for the week. This category of motivation is______________.
A. Extrinsic
B. Egocentric
C. Inspirational
D. Intrinsic

A. Extrinsic

For the day's assignments, Ms. Wilson presents a driving question to her class. She encourages her students to work with their team as she makes hands-on activities available. ______________ is the instructional strategy which Ms. Wilson is practicing.
A. Question retraining
B. Project-based learning
C. Attribution retraining
D. Lecturing

B. Project-based learning

Mr. Pugh will distribute practice exercises and provide models to his students after their class discussion. He will also allow class time for socialization. These main components can help Mr. Pugh's students retrace their mistakes and their course of action. ______________ is the instructional strategy which is being demonstrated.
A. Question retraining
B. Project-based learning
C. Attribution retraining
D. Lecturing

C. Attribution retraining

For the past three days, Emily has sat unusually quiet at her desk. She turns in incomplete assignments and often appears frustrated. During circle time, she rarely participates or interacts with the rest of the class. Mrs. Church should consider putting more thought into:
A. Re-evaluating the classroom's atmosphere
B. The student-teacher relationship and if enough time is spent talking to Emily individually
C. Emily's home environment
D. All of the above

D. All of the above

What grades are gender differences apparent for motivation in schools?
A. High schools
B. Middle schools
C. College
D. All of the above

A. High schools

Which category of motivation is encouraged by rewards, such as stickers, candy, recess or extra credit?
A. Intrinsic
B. Extrinsic

B. Extrinsic

Essay QuestionEdit

Click to reveal a sample response.

What influences and instructional strategies can play a part in motivation and what effects do they have on students?

Students can be motivated internally by the drive to learn. This is intrinsic motivation. Or, students can be motivated externally, which is extrinsic motivation. Students motivation is also affected by their home life-whether they are living in poverty or have abusive parents-their gender-males receive more negative feedback than females, which is discouraging-and the amount of respect they receive. Students can also be motivated by instructional strategies that teachers use that they find interesting, such as Project Based Learning. Project Based Learning requires students to examine a question, work in groups with each other, and come up with results. Students are more motivated if they can finish tasks, so large tasks should be broken up into smaller ones. It is also important for teachers to generate interest in the topics they are studying so that students feel more motivated because they are interested and generally want to learn. Students also are more motivated if they can work at their own pace, and teachers provide a variety of assignments for students to chose the one that interests them the most. Expectations are another important factor that influences motivation. Students do better if they understand what is expected of them and they feel as though they can control the task at hand. —Meredith B. Lee

ReferencesEdit

  • Brewster, C., & Fager, J. (2000, October). Increasing Student Engagement and Motivation: From Time-on-Time Task to Homework. Retrieved September 15, 2006, from http://www.nwrel.org/request/oct00/textonly.html
  • Fisher, H. (Spring 2003). Motivational Strategies in the Elementary Setting [Electronic version]. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 39(3), 118-21.
  • Franken, R. (2002). Human motivation. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
  • Lumsden, L. (1994, June). Student Motivation to Learn [Electronic version]. ERIC Digest, 92.
  • Theroux, P. (1994, January). Enhance Learning With Technology. Retrieved September 16, 2006, from http://members.shaw.ca/priscillatheroux/motivation.html
  • Morgan, C. (2001, May). The Effects of Negative Managerial Feedback on Student Motivation: Implications for Gender Differences in Teacher—Student Relations - Statistical Data Included. Retreived February 19, 2007, from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2294/is_2001_May/ai_80073587
  • "Motivation Can Be Its Own Reward." Fire Chief 50.6 (June 1, 2006): NA. InfoTrac OneFile. Thomson Gale. Old Dominion University Library. 22 Feb. 2007 [1]
Last modified on 17 February 2010, at 16:32