Student Motivation – 20 ways Teachers can Motivate Learners

How can learners be motivated to stay interested and study hard? It’s the teacher’s responsibility to engage students in learning by tapping into intrinsic and extrinsic motivations.

What can Teachers do to Motivate their Students?

One of the biggest challenges in the classroom is improving student motivation. The two types of motivation for learning are intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic learning occurs when the student already has an interest in learning the subject and is inspired internally. However, extrinsic motivation occurs when other factors, such as a reward or recognition, drive them to participate in class. It is the teacher’s responsibility to engage students in learning by tapping into intrinsic and extrinsic motivations.

Next I will share 20 ways that teachers can motivate their learners:

1. Fostering a growth mindset

Set achievable goals for your students. Nurture a belief that they will improve. Prof. Carol Dweck argues that all people have either one of two mindsets; a fixed mindset that they are born with certain abilities and can’t improve, and a growth mindset that believes that anyone can get better at something if they apply themselves through hard work. As teachers, we need to break down the fixed mindsets that some of our students might have, and turn them into growth mindsets. One way we can do this is by giving them positive (and useful) feedback, and fostering the idea that they can get better at anything they set their minds to.

2. Improve rapport and build relationships

Get to know each student on a personal level, use their names often, ask them about their interests and lives, learn their hopes and their dreams. They will see you care and work hard for you. Smile.

3. Cultivate a positive environment

They need to feel heard and respected. Provide constructive feedback. Grow a community of learners that are willing to take risks. When teachers create a safe, supportive environment for students, affirming their belief in a student’s abilities rather than laying out the consequences of not doing things, students are much more likely to get and stay motivated to do their best.

4. High expectations and clear goals

Be flexible but allow students to reach their fullest potential. Set daily learning goals. Expectations should be transparent – Students know exactly what is expected of them and how to get there. At the beginning of the year, lay out clear objectives, rules, and expectations of students so that there is no confusion and students have goals to work towards.

5. Inspire with engaging lessons

Put excitement into your speech, use stories, vary your pitch, volume and rate. Asking questions during classes to keep students engaged, remember to share lots of examples.

6. Rewards and recognition

Give out stars, a pizza party, watch a movie, create a wall of winners, candy. Everyone likes getting rewards, and offering your students the chance to earn them is an excellent source of motivation, even something as simple as a sticker on paper can make students put more effort into their work. Don’t overdo rewards or make it the focus of class, that way it becomes an expectation instead of a treat.

7. Allow students options

Self-controlled learning allows students some choice and control over what happens in the classroom. They have a say in topics and activities in class. For example, allowing students to choose the type of assignment they do or which problems to work on can give them a sense of control that may motivate them to do more.

8. Offer variation

Vary teaching styles and activities, vary instructional strategies, lectures, demonstrations, discussions, case studies. Each student learns differently and should have a variety of projects and activities to pique their interests.

9. Positive competition

Put up student work around class, get them to compete with their friends to see who’s the best. Work to foster a friendly spirit of competition, perhaps through group games related to the material or other opportunities for students to ‘show off’ their knowledge or skills.

10. Group work

Use collaboration, try Problem Based Learning in small groups to determine solutions to problems. Many students learn better in a group environment.

11. Praise

Remember to praise effort, not intelligence. We underestimate how hungry our students are for praise. Don’t only praise the best and underperforming students, praise the ones in the middle too.

12. Encourage Self-reflection

If they have a diary or a way to monitor their growth they will feel more inspired through their progress. Provide formative assessments so students can see that they are meeting their learning goals. This can be done through assessments like exit tickets “ I am able to do ____. I know ________.

13. Model enthusiasm for learning

If you aren’t excited about the topic, why would they be? Be an inspirational figure in your students’ lives. Inspirational teachers represent success in their students. It might be with your achievements, your personality your ethic and hard work towards future goals. Your passion for your subject is contagious to your students. They are more likely to love a subject if their teacher displays a real passion for it.

14. Apply student interests

No matter the subject covered, find ways to make the material fun and exciting for your students. Facilitate student activities that give insight into their interests, backgrounds and future goals.

15. Student mastery

The teacher shouldn’t be the only holder of knowledge. Students should be active participants and take responsibility to search and share their own information. Use words like “we” and “our” instead of “I” and “we”

16. Make things fun

Use games and fun activities rather than lectures Grab their attention with stimulating music, are and hands-on activities

17. Share their experiences

If students feel like their experiences are valued, they will work harder in class to share their ideas and feelings with the class. They have different thought processes that other students can learn from

18. Give them responsibility

Get them involved. Give them a job to do. It gives them a sense of ownership

19. Real-life situations

Draw connections to real life, use technology and their experiences to fuel your lessons to reach the necessary outcomes

20. Provide opportunities for success

Raise their confidence by giving them objectives to achieve. Start by giving them easy goals, then systematically increase the difficulty to help them gain confidence and competence. Students, even the best ones, can become frustrated and demotivated when they feel like they’re struggling or not getting the recognition that other students are. Make sure that all students get a chance to play to their strengths and feel included and valued.

Motivating students is one of the main responsibilities of teachers. Please share this video with other teachers that struggle with motivating their classes. If you want tips and resources to improve your teaching, check out this next video.

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