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Stronge & Associates: Motivating Learners in the Classroom

By Xianxuan Xu

04/12/2017

Motivating students to learn plays an extraordinarily powerful role in both the teacher’s and students’ success. Motivating students consists of making students receptive to and excited about learning, as well as making them aware of the importance and value of learning itself (Stronge 2007). By finding ways to motivate students to learn, teachers contribute to students’ positive attitudes toward learning.

A 2003 Gallup Student Poll surveyed 600,000 Grade 5–12 students in the U.S. It found that 55 percent of students reported being engaged in the learning process; 28 percent reported not being engaged (that is, “mentally checked out”); and 17 percent reported being “actively disengaged” from school (Gallup 2013). Research also found that boredom—the opposite of motivation—has an overall effect size of -.24 on student academic outcomes (Tze, Daniels, & Klassen 2016).

Many people think that motivation is something that is inherent to the individual, rather than something that a teacher can influence. However, students’ motivation to learn is highly susceptible to change because of teacher intervention. For instance, the Gallup Student Poll found that students who agreed with the statements “My school is committed to building the strengths of each student” and “I have at least one teacher who makes me excited about the future” were 30 times as likely as those who strongly disagreed with the statements to be motivated about learning (Gallup 2013). Thirty times! Teachers should know that students are likely to be motivated to learn when they have interesting and enjoyable tasks, expectations with which they can be successful, and appropriate support for learning. In fact, effective teachers know how to construct these conditions (LePage et al. 2005; Masson et al. 2016).

Research demonstrates that children are motivated to learn when they have confidence in their abilities and when they have a good relationship with the teacher. Intrinsic motivation for learning derives from the fact that humans typically want to understand the world, have control over their lives, and be self-directed. There is evidence to indicate that when children are given external rewards extensively, they will often attribute their behaviors to external factors and lose their sense of self-determination, along with interest in engaging in the task again. To promote intrinsic motivation, “perceived control” and “perceived competence” among students are important. Teachers need to learn how to create academic environments in which students perceive themselves as being competent and as having a measure of self-control (LePage et al. 2005; Lawanto et al. 2012). Some of the strategies for increasing academic motivation include (Azzam & Pink 2014; Cushman 2013; Wormeli 2014; Rowell 2013):

• Enhance students’ self-efficacy beliefs: Provide students with opportunities to experience success with different kinds of tasks and help them experience mastery of knowledge and skills; introduce activities that are optimally challenging to allow students to expand their academic competencies and provide informative feedback; point out that students’ success was due to their effort; and talk with students about their interests, likes, areas of strength, and areas needing improvement. These practices can boost their perceptions of self-efficacy.

• Help students develop attributional beliefs that are conducive to successful outcomes: Help students attribute learning success or failure to internal and controllable factors, such as effort and learning strategies, rather than external uncontrollable factors, such as task difficulty and luck.

• Help students see task values: Help students increase personal relevance of learning and activities by clarifying the value of tasks, and help students see the relationship of the task to their personal interests and goals.

• Foster students’ sense of safety and well-being: Empathize with the students and make sure they understand that teachers are there to have their backs and to support them as they risk new learning challenges. This relationship of trust can increase students’ expectations of success.

References:
Azzam, A. M., & Pink, D. 2014. “Motivated to Learn.” Educational Leadership 72(1):12–17.
Cushman, K. 2013. “Minds on Fire.” Educational Leadership 71(4):38–43.
Gallup. 2013. “State of America’s Schools: The Path to Winning Again in Education.” http://www. gallup.com/services/178709/state-america-schools-report.aspx.
Lawanto, O., Santoso, H. B., & Liu Y. 2012. “Understanding the Relationship Between Interest and Expectancy for Success in Engineering Design Activity in Grades 9–12.” Educational Technology & Society 15(1):152–161.
LePage, P., Darling-Hammond, L., Akar, H., Guitierrez, C., Jenkins-Gunn, E., & Rosebrock, K. 2005. “Classroom management.” In Preparing Teachers for a Changing World: What Teachers Should Learn and Be Able to Do, edited by L. Darling-Hammond and J. Bransford, 327–357. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Rowell, L. 2013. “Academic Motivation: Concepts, Strategies, and Counseling Approaches.” Professional School Counseling 16(3):158–171.
Stronge, J. H. 2007. Qualities of Effective Teachers. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Tze, V. M. C., Daniels, L. M, & Klassen, R. M. 2016. “Evaluating the Relationship Between Boredom and Academic Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis.” Educational Psychology Review 28(1):119–144.
Wormeli, R. 2014. “Motivating Young Adolescents.” Educational Leadership 72(1):26–31.

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04/13/2017 - Pon
A real motivational article for the teachers who are not stimulating the potential/sprite within the learners with an optimistic approach :)

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