Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Classroom Issues/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 Motivation
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).
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 Learning
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 Motivation
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).
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).
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 Motivation
|“||People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.||”|
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).
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.
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- 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