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Motivation in education

By their nature, people are always on a quest to conquer, a push to do or achieve something.

Truth is, inability to achieve frustrates us. This is what psychologists call motivation/moxie/pep/gumption/chutzpah.

Motivation is an attribute that instigates movements, an energy, direction, the reason for our behaviour, and the “what” and “why” we do something. It is that fire in the belly that causes us to envision, chase and fulfil. It has been defined as the process by which the behaviour of an individual is influenced by others, through their power to offer or withhold satisfaction of the individual’s needs and goals. However, the self can also motivate the self.

According to the motivation definition proposed by Houssave, motivation is the kick off behind the strength; Aristotle and Plato have endorsed that motivation is associated with the physical, emotional and logical.

Will power, is closely associated with students’ academic results. The level of student’s motivation to some extent is closely associated with the extent to which they contribute the learning activity. Thus, learner centred pedagogies motivate learners.

Active learners with high self-esteem will spontaneously partake in activities without expecting any external rewards. Low motivated students on the other hand, will need external rewards to be convinced to participate in activities. There are seven factors that endorse motivation: challenge, curiosity, control, fantasy, competition, cooperation and recognition.

Motivation can be either intrinsic or extrinsic. Stirling writes that intrinsic motivation is characterised as that which comes from within the individual.  That it inspires action even when there is no perceived external stimulus or reward. Extrinsic motivation, in contrast, she postulates, provides incentive to engage in action which may not be inherently pleasing or engaging, but which may offer benefits in terms of perceived potential outcomes.

Motivation is a key factor in the success of students at all stages of their education, and teachers can play a pivotal role in providing and encouraging that motivation in their students.

There are many ways through which a teacher can motivate their learners. Number one, be excited! One of the best ways to get your students motivated is to share their enthusiasm. When you’re excited about teaching, they’ll be much more excited about learning.

An excited teacher is creative and always tries out new and fun pedagogies. A classroom should not be a funeral home. While at it, add fun activities into teaching. This can help students who struggle to stay engaged and make the classroom a much more friendly place for all students. Motivation is highly contagious!

 Secondly,  give students a sense of control. Nothing is as refreshing as a democratic learning environment where the teacher shares power. 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 just motivate them to do more.

Also, define objectives. It can be very frustrating for students to complete an assignment or even to behave in class if there aren’t clearly defined objectives. Students want and need to know what is expected of them in order to stay motivated to work.

At the beginning of the year, lay out clear objectives, rules of engagement, and expectations so that there is no confusion and students have goals to work towards.

While students do need to understand that there are consequences to their actions, there are ways of doing that without using threats. 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


A classroom is a great place for learning, but sitting at a desk day in and day out can make be demotivating. To renew interest in the subject matter or just in learning in general, give your students a chance to get out of the classroom. Take field trips, bring in speakers, or even just head to the library for some research. The brain loves novelty and a new setting can be just what some students need to stay motivated to learn.

Offer varied experiences and use learner centred pedagogies, to cater for learner interests and diverse learning styles. Not all students will respond to lessons in the same way. For some, hands-on experiences may be the best. Others may love to read books quietly or to work in groups. In order to keep all students motivated, mix up your strategies so that students with different preferences will each get to focus on the things they like best. The important thing is to teach the child, not the curriculum.

Competition in the classroom isn’t always a bad thing, and in some cases can motivate students to try harder and work to excel. Instil a friendly spirit of competition in your class, perhaps through group games related to the material or other opportunities for students to show off their knowledge. Poetry slams, debates, panel discussions, quizzes, speech presentations, spelling bee, scrabble competitions...

Everyone likes getting rewards, and offering your students a chance to earn them is an excellent source of motivation. A sticker on a paper can make students work harder and really aim to achieve. Consider the personalities and needs of your students to determine an appropriate reward system for your learners.

There is no other form of motivation that works quite as well as encouragement. Even as adults we crave recognition and praise, and students at any age are no exception. Teachers can give students a bounty of motivation by rewarding success publicly, giving praise for a job well done, and sharing exemplary work.

Know your students. Getting to know your students is about more than just memorising their names. Students need to know that their teacher has a genuine interest in them and cares about them and their success. When students feel appreciated it creates a safe learning environment and motivates them to work harder, as they want to get praise and good feedback from someone they feel knows and respects them as individuals.

Helping students find intrinsic motivation can be great to help students get motivated, because at the end of the day they need to be able to generate their own motivation. Learners must find their own personal reasons for doing class work and working hard: whether because they find material interesting; want to go to college; or just love to learn. This is one of the most powerful gifts you can give them. In so doing you’ve skilled them for life.

 Give feedback and offer chances to improve. Students who struggle with class work can sometimes feel frustrated and get down on themselves, draining motivation. In these situations, it’s critical that teachers help students to learn exactly where they went wrong and how they can improve next time. Figuring out a method to get where students want to be can also help them to stay motivated to work hard. Feedback should never be about zooming in on failure but unveiling potential.

“A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite imagination and instil a love for learning.” Brad Henry.

Educationally Speaking



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