Motivation is something that a lot of students lack in the classroom. Students lack this motivation because they are disengaged in what they are learning. Teachers need to find a way to motivate their students in order to ensure success within the classroom.
There is no single way to motivate a student, as many things motivate them, it depends on that particular student.
Self-determination is a major factor in motivation, as students should want to take control of their own learning. In order to have motivation in the classroom the teacher needs to make sure there is a classroom management set in place, as the two go hand in hand. Without classroom management the teacher cannot move on and learn how to motivate his or her students. Classroom management should be discussed from the beginning, and from there the teacher can work on how to motivate the students to make sure they are fully engaged in their learning and the classroom.
Motivation and classroom management need to be put in place in order to ensure the success of students within the classroom. If students are motivated properly then they are more likely to participate within lessons and focus on their learning (Usher and Kober, 2013). The key detail to motivation is finding the right type for the current classroom a teacher is in. There can be whole class motivation but also individual motivation as well (Daniels, 2010). In order to create motivation systems within the classroom a teacher must also have a classroom management plan in place in order to ensure the students are able to follow directions and rules and receive the rewards they are pining after. If classroom management is under control then the teacher will be able to put motivation systems in place (Sprick and Daniels, 2010).
According to Daniels (2010), to be motivated means, “to be moved by.” When looking at a classroom perspective this means that in order for students to be motivated they need to feel enthused by the lesson or the subject matter. Students have been known to lose motivation as they advance through the grades, starting off as eager to learn, but from there the motivation decreases. There are many reasons as to why students aren’t motivated and lose this motivation as they progress through schools.
Students aren’t motivated because they are not interested in what they’re learning about, they don’t understand the material, or the way in which they are learning and being assessed is of no interest to them (Usher and Kober, 2013). In my after school classroom I had one student in particular who was having a tough time being motivated. His lack of motivation depended on the day and what we were learning about. His mood was also a big factor in his motivation. This student had a very low self-esteem and that sometimes effected his motivation and willingness to learn.
When it comes to motivating students there is no one right way. Every student is unique in their own, which means they do not all learn the same. When it comes to learning there are different ways that students can be motivated in order to ensure the most success within the classroom. From one research article by Daniels (2010) the researchers interviewed students themselves in order to find out how they are motivated.
Some of the underlying factors to come from motivation were; their choice of how to do an assignment, hands-on activities, more than just right and wrong answers, class discussion, knowledge of how their learning pertains to their lives, and being able to manage their stress. All of these factors are important to take into account as this can really change the dynamic of the classroom and get students motivated again. Like mentioned before there is no single way to motivate a student, they are all different, therefore the factors listed above could bring many new ideas on how to motivated students.
There are many ways that schools themselves can help to motivate students to want to learn. Usher and Kober (2013) list three school-based efforts to improve student motivation. The first effort named is targeted intervention programs. These programs enlist the help of mentors who would be assigned to students who are struggling within the classroom, especially the students who lack motivation.
These programs have specialized extracurricular activities and keep a close monitor on student progress throughout this reform. The next effort listed is programs focused on teachers as motivators. Teachers go through school learning how to educate students but they are not always properly trained on how to keep students engaged and motivated.
These programs would make sure the teachers know how to motivate their students and show them that they truly care about them and their education. In my classroom I motivated my students by showing them that I cared about what they were doing. I would hang their work up on the wall to show that I was proud of what they had accomplished. There was even a few times where the students asked if they could hang up their work and of course I let them. This motivated them to do their work because they could display it on the wall and show their fellow classmates what they had accomplished.
The last effort discussed by Usher and Kober (2013) is the effort to reorganize schools. This means taking in all the factors that go into a school such as; schedules, organization, size, climate, student grouping, and many other aspects that effect the students engagement. If the schools are able to reorganize themselves in order to better suit the needs of the students than they can find more success in motivating them.
These authors continue to discuss how there are many “non-traditional” approaches to get students motivated as well. When thinking about traditional motivation styles, rewards come to mind. I have promised my students rewards in order to motivate them within lessons, but I switched it up each time therefore they weren’t getting the same promise of candy every time.
But I have also utilized some non-traditional approaches as well. Some non-traditional approaches listed by Usher and Kober (2013) are; inquiry-based learning, service-learning, alternative educational programs, extracurricular programs, and creative educational uses for technology. I believe the biggest non-traditional approach I utilized within my after school program was the creative use of technology. My students were very technology centered therefore they loved using the computer and their iPads.
The biggest piece of technology I utilized with them was their iPads and the use of the app called KaHoot! Harris, A. Al-Bataineh, and M. Al-Bataineh (2016), state, “The role of technology in the world of education has been ever changing. Most recently, technology has been a new phenomenon to help motivate, differentiate, and allow students to achieve and excel in ways that they have never been able to before” (pg. 370). Technology is important to use within the classroom because it is exciting for the students especially this day in age.
Almost every student has a piece of technology they use at home; therefore it is motivating when they get to use that technology in the classroom. Sansone, Fraughton, Zachary, Butner, and Heiner (2011) discuss how students who already have knowledge and interest in computers and technology may display a greater knowledge because the assignments and task they are asked to complete are relevant to their interests and they are able to make connections on their own. Usher and Kober (2013) make an excellent point in discussing why technology is important.
The authors point out the fact that technology can stimulate the interest of bored students but also increase the participation of shy students. I had one student in my classroom that was very reluctant to answer questions, but when we used the iPads he participated in every activity! The students loved being able to use the technology within the classroom, they viewed it as a reward, even though they were just doing classwork!
The one student who I focused this paper on became my computer helper within the classroom. This student was assigned this job because he was always touching the computer and trying to use it, but not always at the appropriate times. I realized that if he was to help me with the computer during my lessons he would be more motivated to learn as he would have to pay attention to my lectures and figure out what to switch the slide or open the videos on the slides. I found that the more he helped me with the computer the more likely he was to participate within the lessons.
When discussing motivation within the classroom, one has to think about why a student isn’t motivated, what is causing them to lack this effort? One of the main reasons my student lacked motivation was because he was not self-determined, he would always put himself down and say he was not good enough to do a certain piece of homework or class assignment.
Therefore this student would struggle to start any assignment and I ahd to constantly remind him and monitor him to start his work. Wehmeyer, Shogren, Toste, and Mahal (2017), state that being self-determined means a student needs to make things happen in his or her own life without the prompting from other individuals. The article continues to discuss that there is evidence that enhancing a students self-determination leads to a more positive outcome in school.
Being more self-determined will enhance a student’s motivation to be engaged within the classroom and learn the material. If my student was more self-determined he would get right to work on his assignments and get them done without me prompting him. I would praise him on getting right to work, therefore increasing his motivation to do work independently.
Wehmeyer, et al., (2017) discuss the various ways in which to promote self-determination within the classroom. The three student directed learning strategies are; self-instruction, self-monitoring, and self-evaluation. Within my classroom we targeted self-monitoring as part of the executive function curriculum and I taught the students how to properly manage their behavior. The students were very self-determined to act the appropriate way within the classroom in order to gain their desired reward. Promoting self-monitoring within my classroom motivated this particular student because he was in charge of how he behaved, therefore he determined what his outcome was going to be at the end of our time together and whether or not he received the reward for the day.
As discussed above students feel motivated for a variety of reasons. Daniels (2010) states the four main reasons when students feel motivated. Students feel motivated when; they feel a sense of autonomy or control, they feel connected to the class and the school, they feel as if they posses the skills necessary to meet the challenges of school, and they have choice! Giving students the right to choose shows them that their teachers trust them, which in turn motivates the student to take control of their own learning. In my after school classroom I had a lot of times when I gave my students their own choice.
I always made sure that the choices they were making were appropriate ones, and if they were not then they were not going to have this freedom as much. I let the students chose what they would do when they finished homework, the rewards they wanted to work towards, and even how they wanted the classroom set up. Giving my students these choices showed them that I put my trust in them to make the right decisions, thus motivating them to keep behaving properly within the classroom and participating within the lessons.
In order to ensure that a motivation style is introduced to the classroom properly there must be a classroom management plan in place. Sprick and Daniels (2010), state, “Managing student behavior and improving student motivation involves knowing what to do, when to do it, and how to do it” (pg. 18). As a teacher one knows how to keep their classroom under control, this can be done by creating a classroom management plan, one that all students are aware of as well. Students need to know how to properly behave within the classroom in order to properly motivate them. If students are behaving then they can be rewarded, thus increasing their motivation to do well in school and behave correctly.
Sprick and Daniels (2010) discuss the different ways in which teachers can manage student behavior within the classroom. These efforts include; avoiding power struggles, communicating high expectations, remaining calm in difficult situations, and always inspire and motivate the most challenging students. The last effort is especially important because these are the students who have lost motivation and they are disrupting the classroom because they have no will to sit in the classroom and engage within the lessons.
The student discussed throughout this paper was one of my most challenging students, and I never gave up on him. I found what was motivating for him and tried to help him throughout this program to stay engaged in what we were learning. Like mentioned above he loved being on the computer, therefore I let him be my computer helped and had activities planned out using technology. This student also enjoyed playing with toy cars, therefore when it came to rewards, he knew this was something he could earn. But in order to earn these motivation tactics he had to follow the rules of the classroom and participate within the lessons.
Motivation is something that needs to be instilled in every classroom. Motivation is what gets the students engaged in learning and at the same time helps the teacher figure out the needs of the students. But before discovering the correct motivation to use in the classroom, the teacher must put a classroom management plan in place in order to ensure the rules are being followed in order for the students to earn possible rewards used as motivation. There is no one correct way to motivate a student, therefore there are a variety of methods to try out until you find the one that works best. Motivating a student is more than just giving them rewards; you want to give them a purpose of why they belong in the classroom, gaining new knowledge.
- Daniels, E. (2010). Creating motivating learning environments: What we can learn from researchers and students. English Journal, 100(1), 25-29.
- Harris, J. L., Al-Bataineh, M. T., ; Al-Bataineh, A. (2016). One to One Technology and its Effect on Student Academic Achievement and Motivation. Contemporary Educational Technology, 7(4), 368-381.
- Usher, A., ; Kober, N. (2013). Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform. Education Digest, 78(5), 9-16.
- Sprick, R., ; Daniels, K. (2010). Managing student BEHAVIOR. Principal Leadership, 11(1), 18-21.
- Wehmeyer, M. L., Shogren, K. A., Toste, J. R., ; Mahal, S. (2016). Self-Determined Learning to Motivate Struggling Learners in Reading and Writing. Intervention in School and Clinic, 52(5), 295-303. doi:10.1177/1053451216676800