Inspiring and motivating students is a crucial role teachers have to play. Student motivation is a cornerstone of the learning process, heavily influencing their engagement, understanding and retention of material. So, what can you do to ignite your student’s enthusiasm for learning, especially on days when motivation is low? Let’s delve into 10 practical strategies that can significantly enhance student motivation.
1. Setting and tracking goals
One of the fundamental elements in motivating students is setting clear goals and expectations. When students have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, they are more likely to feel motivated to achieve those goals. Clearly communicate learning outcomes, provide checklists, and regularly revisit the goals to keep students focused and motivated.Research has shown that when students in a Science classroom were given weekly goals, they pushed their learning by constantly reviewing their goals and were more dedicated to learning in the classroom.
2. Asking themselves “why?”
Asking “why” questions advances learning because it engages students in a topic. It forces them to think deeply about and listen to answers, developing curiosity. Research suggests that people who are curious about a topic tend to learn faster. This is because curiosity primes the brain for learning. It makes you motivated to learn, but also helps you to remember and recall learnt information better.
In the classroom and at home, students can ask themselves questions like “why is this true?” Pre-empting the answers to these questions helps students to progress their learning, improving performance.
3. Focusing on improvement, not comparison
It’s normal that students will compare themselves to others. While this can promote self-reflection and personal growth, if it starts becoming too important for them, it can also steal away students’ joy and become unhealthy. Encourage your students to not focus on comparing their progress to others and instead remind them of their unique strengths. Emphasising the idea of doing their best, regardless of the outcome, can help reinforce the idea that they are their own competition and that education is a journey.
4. Surrounding themselves with positive, hardworking people
Being around peers who share their enthusiasm for learning can enhance students’ curiosity and foster a strong sense of community in the classroom. Encouraging teamwork, cooperation, and peer support through group projects or collaborative discussions is crucial. After all, when students collaborate with like-minded individuals, they feel motivated and supported.
5. Giving them the choice
Letting students make choices and show initiative can enhance their motivation, effort and autonomy. This allows students to explore their learning abilities as well as identify their own strengths and limitations. This way, students can gain a sense of ownership and autonomy over their education, which enhances their motivation and engagement.
6. Finding enjoyment in the tasks they do
When students enjoy what they are doing, they are more likely to be intrinsically motivated, which fosters a love for learning and a desire to excel academically. When students are invested in their learning, they make a conscious effort to enjoy their learning.
7. Embracing the journey, not just the outcome
Students may sometimes be put down by grades and feedback. However, it is important to help them shift their focus from outcomes to appreciating the process and journey of learning. Help your students understand that growth and learning occur throughout the entire process, rather than just in the result.Recent research by Stanford University compared whether people perceiving goal attainment as a journey rather than a destination were more likely to continue goal-aligned behaviours even after reaching their desired goal. Irrespective of what their goals were, the findings suggested that viewing goal attainment as a journey was more beneficial in the long run. This way, students are encouraged to embrace challenges, value perseverance, and see mistakes as opportunities to learn and improve.
8. Breaking down complex tasks into small, manageable steps
Breaking down complex tasks into small steps helps students feel less overwhelmed and more confident in their ability to complete the task. When faced with a large and daunting task, students may feel discouraged and unsure where to begin. By breaking it down into smaller, more manageable steps, students can focus on one step at a time, making the task feel more achievable and less intimidating. This often occurs when students are faced with new material. According to Rosenshine’s second Principle of Instruction, new lesson materials should be introduced in small steps. This allows students to make steady progress, make connections and understand the importance of each step.
9. Embracing challenges
Students face a lot of challenges in education. However, the key lies in how they respond to minor setbacks. Indeed, research has shown that when athletes were put under pressure to perform well, they were more likely to develop resilience and were better able to manage setbacks in the future. Encourage your students to embrace challenges, learn from failures, and believe in their ability to improve. This will allow them to foster skills such as perseverance and resilience.
10. Managing stress appropriately
Although research shows that a moderate amount of stress can be beneficial for student motivation, too much of it can impact their overall well-being and passion for learning. Therefore, it’s important students can manage everyday stressors at school. Some ways students can do this include mindful exercises, better sleep and creating a supportive classroom environment where students feel comfortable asking for help.
Boosting student motivation is a crucial aspect of effective teaching. Implementing these strategies mentioned above can help students develop personal skills and find joy in their educational journey.
Ultimately, this will lead them to increased motivation, improved learning outcomes, and the holy grail of education: a lifelong passion for learning.
For even more useful info visit our page on How to Develop a Growth Mindset which has tons of great tips and links to the latest research on Growth Mindset.