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Motivation: What students, teachers, and the literature have to say.

This Prezi discusses what teachers, students, and the literature has to say about motivating students.

Ryan Rague

on 26 March 2014

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Transcript of Motivation: What students, teachers, and the literature have to say.

How should educators motivate their students to perform well in school? Promise healthy incentives? "Perform this task, and I'll give you an A." OR... Promise disciplinary actions if they are not compliant? Yay! Just what every teenager wants...vegetables. Positive and Negative Stimuli to Produce Desired Results Parents and professionals wouldn't use carrots and sticks to produce results, would they? "Good grades are good for you" "For every 'A' you get, I'll give you $20" "Those with A's can skip this next assignment" "Only 3.0 and above students qualify for scholarships" "Because you're doing so well, you've earned an extra five minutes of recess time" "Good grades come from good behavior" "Bring home a report card with all A's and I'll pay your insurance for six months." The Incentives The Big Stick "Do poorly in school, you'll have no future" "Perform well, or face the consequences" "If you bring home one more 'C', I'll ground you" "Your academic performance is sub-par. No football for you!" "You have failing grades. You owe me ten minutes of recess time." "I'm angry with you because of your grades. Don't speak to me." "Don't you care what other people think of you with grades like that?" Now wait just a minute. These strategies work! Without a doubt, these strategies CAN work...but they're not as efficacious as we might believe. Okay... Okay... And as one bright freshman insightfully remarked during a survey: "Mr. Teacher, every student is different. They're not all motivated by the same thing." -E.S., Freshman at H.H.S. (Note: This is a likeness of her, not an actual photo.) My goal isn't to find an ominous solution to increase motivation. As that student of mine hinted, that would be pointless because the solution to motivating students can't be purchased at your local, professional development aisle on the "One Size Fits All", or even the "One Size Fits Most" shelf. The is different for everyone. Instead, my goal is to explore a myriad of information on carrots (i.e., motivation). Although I'm going to discuss what the research suggests, I'm also including what a sample of students and teachers say about motivation. By reviewing what students, teachers, and researchers have to say about motivation, I ought to be able to synthesize the information into something we can use: a list of DO's and DON'Ts, if you will. Approximately 30 students were asked what motivates them to do well in school or what WOULD motivate them to do well if nothing currently does. Here are those results. 5 4 3 2 1 Teachers who have worked in our district for a minimum of five or more years were asked: "What, in your opinion, motivates students to do well in school?" 1
8 Rewards (4%) Feelings of being respected (7%) Pressure from peers, teachers, coaches, etc. (7%) Levels of interest (7%) Born motivated (11%) Relevancy of content (11%) Involved parents (22%) Positive and caring relationship with teacher (33%) 8 trends started to form as results began coming in... (Virtual tie: about 3% each) Pass a class
Leave school
Rewards Getting good grades
Peers (friends/significant others)
Being the best (Virtual tie: about 6% each) Relationship with teachers
Earning capacity after graduation (Virtual tie: about 10% each) Family (17%) Future Goals/Career Aspirations (23.3%) "There needs to be a working relationship between student and teacher. It doesn’t have to be an overly friendly relationship but a respectful one." "Motivation is driven by the level of interest that a student has in a content area. If the student does not see how the content area relates to their everyday life, they are not likely to be motivated to study, understand, comprehend, or apply it." "...most are motivated by various forms of pressure from others- peers, parent's, teachers, or coaches." "Occasionally students can be motivated through peer pressure, but I have noticed a drastic decline in that circumstance in the last ten years. It has become increasingly socially acceptable among students to fail classes, when it used to be shameful." "Students (in general) are not emotionally mature enough to fully appreciate the intrinsic rewards of knowledge, so that is not what motivates the average adolescent." "I believe that students who do not possess intrinsic motivation to do well in school can be motivated to do well by creating an authentic caring relationship with them. I have had students tell me that they wouldn’t do the “work” for themselves, but will try because I want them to try. I also believe that once a relationship is established and the teacher knows the interests of the student, the teacher can then use these interests to tie to necessary curriculum." "I believe that students respond to positive encouragement from teacher’s no matter how small the acknowledgment." "I believe success motivates students. I have also seen students motivated by rewards." "For me as a student and from what I observe as a teacher of students, the number 1 motivator is the expectations set by parents." "If they trust you and believe in themselves. …..The sky is the limit. I spend one quarter giving students things just a bit below their ability level then they realize they can do it and I increase their work and the level of their work bit by bit…..I remind them how easy it was for them and how smart they are. I also remind them inch by inch things are a cinch, yard by yard things are hard." Notable comments from the survey: How do the two surveys compare? Family Relationships with teachers Curriculum Relevancy Rewards Respect Innately Motivated Pressure Levels of Interest Earning Capacity Good Grades Being the Best Pride Pass a Class Get Done with School STUDENTS Teachers Now that we know what a handful of teachers and students has to say, What does the "literature" say about motivation? Let's begin with incentive (remember, some students and some teachers agreed that rewards increased motivation). Key Points: -The higher the incentive for cognitive performance, the lower the performance. -Incentives to increase higher-order thinking doesn't work. -Autonomy (self-regulation), for various reasons, increases performance. -Personal interest and mastering those interests increases performance. -Transcendent purpose increases performance. -Daniel Pink, Best-selling author and renowned journalist. -Not all types of motivation--including rewards--produces desirable results. Alfie Kohn (M.A. in social sciences and a leading lecturer and reformer of education) and some humor regarding grades and rewards as a means to improve performance. Alfie Kohn, again. Although highly sardonic, he raises an interesting point: rewards can actually demotivate students to perform well when no one is around to reward them. Okay, okay. But what does this mean for the classroom teacher? Do we stop rewarding our students? Do we stop using positive reinforcement? No! First of all, it's polite to thank others when they do something nice or appropriate. Also, positive reinforcement helps foster a learning environment where students feel like their hard work will be recognized. However, we cannot assume that rewards will motivate students to become better learners when no one is around to reward them. Do we really want to produce a classroom full of students who perform only for a reward? Or do we want to motivate them and turn them onto lifelong learning? So, incentives work for some, and it appears to have limited--at times, backwards--results...what does research suggest teachers do to motivate their students to do well in school? After reviewing literature on how to increase motivation, many teachers and students were correct (family, pressure, relationship with teacher, etc.) and research can be found to support their opinions. Many of the motivational techniques, however, were not as efficacious as one might believe. TWO TRENDS seem to be currently dominating this field of research: Make Learning Relevant Let Students have Choice (Autonomy) Ever had a student ask this question before? Why do I need to know this? When am I ever going to use this information? And it's a great question. "If you're giving them garbage to do, yes, you may have to bribe them to do it. If the kids have to endlessly fill in the blanks on dittos, you're not going to get rid of rewards or threats anytime soon." -(Alfie Kohn qtd. in Brandt, 1995) Brandt, R. (1995, September). Retrieved from http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/pbracwak.htm Research suggests that students are motivated to work for success when the information presented is relevant or useful to them personally. And this makes sense when compared to the results of the student survey, doesn't it? Future goals/career aspirations were the number one motivator for students who took the survey. Educators ought to get away from justifying their assignments in the following ways: "Do it because I said so."
"You have to do it because the state/national standards require you to learn these."
"I had to learn it when I was a student and so do you."
"All teachers teach this." Instead, if what we're teaching is actually really important--and not garbage--we tie the objectives to individual needs/interests of the students. Objective "X" Student Relevancy Objective "X" Student Relevancy Students aren't motivated; if lucky, they're compliant. Students see the "point." They have a personal stake in being successful. Mart, Cagri Tugrul. "How To Sustain Students' Motivation In A Learning Environment." Online Submission (2011): ERIC. Web. 5 Dec. 2012 "I've got 27 students in a single class and I have five classes per day. How am I supposed to make learning relevant for each individual? Remember: Teachers and students both agreed that teachers are a motivating factor. We must build relationships! Educators must abandon the idea that ONE SOLUTION works for all. Like it or not, in order to improve student motivation, we have to know each individual well enough to help make the content personally relevant. "Teven and McCrosky (1996) reported that levels of learning were positively influenced when students perceived their teachers to be caring. Brewer (1997) stated that numerous surveys have shown that the most effective educators have been perceived as caring, enthusiastic, consistent, and impartial when dealing with students. He also referred to the adage, 'They won't care what you know 'til they know that you care.'" (Mart, 2011) Mart, Cagri Tugrul. "How To Sustain Students' Motivation In A Learning Environment." Online Submission (2011): ERIC. Web. 5 Dec. 2012 Admittedly, the task can seem overwhelming for teachers to accomplish; however, why don't we place this responsibility on the students, not ourselves? "Ask students to state learning objectives in terms of their own life goals (Wlodkowski, Ginsberg, 1995)." Wlodkowski, R, Ginsberg, M. Diversity and Motivation: Culturally Responsive
Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1995. Educators can facilitate an environment that helps students come to know themselves well enough that they can begin tying content objectives to personal goals. Students can begin drafting objective statements into something that matters personally. "One of the most powerful tools available to influence academic achievement is helping students feel they have a stake in their learning. To feel motivated to do something and become engaged in its activity, youth (like adults) generally need to feel they have a voice in how it is conducted and an impact on how it concludes. Time and again, research has shown that the more educators give their students choice, control, challenge, and opportunities for collaboration, the more their motivation and engagement are likely to rise." (Eric Toshalis & Nakkula, 2012) Students are more motivated to perform better when they have a voice in how "business" is conducted in a classroom. It gives students a sense of ownership. Students must still master learning objectives. However, whenever students can make choices about learning that increases the relevancy of the content, students should be allowed to. "At its core, student voice is the antithesis of depersonalized, standardized, and homogenized educational experiences because it begins and ends with the thoughts, feelings, visions, and actions of the students themselves. This makes student voice profoundly student centered." (Eric Toshalis & Nakkula, 2012) Many educators argue that differentiated instruction is unmanageable and impossible in the regular classroom; however, if students are allowed choices that don't sacrifice learning objectives, they do the differentiating for themselves. Good for the student and an analgesic for the teacher. Toshalis, E., & Nakkula, M. (2012). Motivation, engagement, and student voice. The students at the center series, Retrieved from http://www.studentsatthecenter.org/sites/scl.dl-dev.com/files/field_attach_file/Exec_Toshalis&Nakkula_032312.pdf Toshalis, E., & Nakkula, M. (2012). Motivation, engagement, and student voice. The students at the center series, Retrieved from http://www.studentsatthecenter.org/sites/scl.dl-dev.com/files/field_attach_file/Exec_Toshalis&Nakkula_032312.pdf "If students are allowed to select a task that they personally enjoy doing, their motivation to learn increases (Kwei and Han, 2001). Allowing some student choice enhances intrinsic interest in school tasks, and it teaches self-management skills that are essential for success in higher grades and the workplace. It is impossible for children to develop autonomy and a sense of responsibility if they are always told what to do, and how, and when to do it (Stipek, 1984)." Mart, Cagri Tugrul. "How To Sustain Students' Motivation In A Learning Environment." Online Submission (2011): ERIC. Web. 5 Dec. 2012 Learning objectives aren't non-negotiable; however, allowing students the choice to learn in a way that matches learning styles or personal interest is. So what do teachers have to say about relinquishing complete control? What do the students have to say about directing their own learning? How many students are sleeping? Who's in charge of learning? Daniel Pink on permitting students to become increasingly autonomous in the learning process. Knowing that voice, choice, and autonomy increase motivation, where do most educators and districts rate on the chart below? Here? Here? Toshalis, E., & Nakkula, M. (2012). Motivation, engagement, and student voice. The students at the center series, Retrieved from http://www.studentsatthecenter.org/sites/scl.dl-dev.com/files/field_attach_file/Exec_Toshalis&Nakkula_032312.pdf So, what should an educator do and not do in order to increase motivation based on the information from the surveys and literature? Don't... Assume that just because something is motivating, it's in the best interest of the students. Not all motivational techniques improve cognitive ability. Neglect individual needs. What motivates one student might not motivate another. Assume there is nothing educators can do to increase intrinsic motivation. In fact, some literature suggests that motivating students is our prime objective and that learning is the students'. Assume students will believe something is relevant because we say so. Mistake compliance for motivation. Just because someone does what we ask doesn't mean they're motivated. Do Build positive relationships with students. This not only increases motivation, it also helps us know how to make learning relevant to individual students. Seek ways to get parents involved in the education of their children, even high school students. Connect learning objectives to EACH student's personal goals. Remember: Students can deconstruct the goals and make them personal. Provide opportunities for students to take real ownership of their education. Allow students to connect their personal interests with learning objectives. This doesn't mean let them learn whatever they want, but allow them choices on how they arrive at a goal. Trust that students do want to learn. We just need to help them see how learning objectives can be mixed with sincere areas of interest. Allow students to be somewhat autonomous. Help students set individual goals and monitor their own progress. Help students discover strengths, weaknesses, and areas of interest. Motivated
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