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Types of Student Motivation: Benefits and Drawbacks

Types of Student Motivation: Benefits and Drawbacks | ITTT | TEFL Blog

As an experienced teacher, I would like to speak about motivation in the classroom. When we are going to teach a class one of the biggest problems is the motivation. Depending on the level of the class we need to consider how the students are motivated. As we know generally we divide the age of groups into 3 parts: 18+, 7 and less, and the middle group.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Anna V. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Group Size and Age

The groups of 7 and less are not so much motivated, so as a teacher we need to do the best to motivate them and involve them in the lesson, otherwise, we can’t have a prosperous lesson.

Regarding the middle age group, the motivation is not like as kids group and but they are still lack of motivation. But it will be easier to motivate them.

The group age 18 + is considered to be the most motivated ones, cause they know what they want to study, and this the reason for their motivation.

adult students

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Inner and Outer Motivation

It is the teacher's responsibility to engage students in learning by tapping into intrinsic and extrinsic motivations.

The teacher’s personality sets the overall tone in the classroom. When the teacher shows enthusiasm and passion for the subject you're teaching, it can be contagious for most students, who will model your positive behavior. Besides teaching the curriculum, be a role model to reinforce positive actions to motivate students to learn. Ensure that classroom rules are detailed so students feel safe to participate and share their opinions and comments without ridicule. Feeling free to express themselves will encourage students to be engaged.

Build Rapport With Students

Students who have positive relationships with teachers are more engaged in learning. Conduct group discussions about subjects that interest them to uncover their personalities. Give surveys with questions about their favorite books, movies, hobbies, and sports. Open up to your students as well about your background and interests to show you are genuinely interested in making connections.

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Prepare Engaging Lessons

No matter the subject covered, find ways to make the material fun and exciting for your students. Facilitate student activities that give insight to their interests, backgrounds and future goals. Students often are unmotivated because they are bored. Grab their attention with stimulating music, art, and hands-on activities to tune them into the curriculum. For example, if you're delivering a lesson on poetry, play contemporary music and discuss poetic devices within the lyrics instead of just reading poems. Use technology, to liven up classroom activities.

Give Students Options

Each student learns differently and should have a variety of projects and activities to peak her interest. For example, instead of a written exam, give students a list of assignments to choose from, including writing an essay, delivering a presentation, and drawing art. By doing this, you address various learning styles, such as auditory, visual and tactile, helping students to participate in ways that are most natural to them.

students working in pairs

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Start a Rewards Program

Rewarding students reinforce positive behavior, and students eventually internalize a desire for learning. A rewards program includes giving praise to students for completing assignments and being active participants in classroom activities.

Intrinsic motivators include fascination with the subject, a sense of its relevance to life and the world, a sense of accomplishment in mastering it, and a sense of calling to it.

Intrinsically motivated students might say things like the following.

  • “This interests me.”
  • “Learning math enables me to think clearly.”
  • “I feel good when I have success.”

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Intrinsic motivation can be long-lasting and self-sustaining. Efforts to build this kind of motivation are also typically efforts at promoting student learning. Such efforts often focus on the subject rather than on rewards or punishments.


On the other hand, efforts at fostering intrinsic motivation can be slow to affect behavior and can require special and lengthy preparation. Students are individuals, so a variety of approaches may be needed to motivate different students. It is often helpful to know what interests one’s students to connect these interests with the subject matter. This requires getting to know one’s students. Also, it helps if the instructor is interested in the subject, to begin with!Extrinsic motivators include parental expectations, expectations of other trusted role models, earning potential of a course of study, and grades (which keep scholarships coming).Students who are extrinsically motivated might say things like the following.

  • “I need a B- in statistics to get into business school.”
  • “Our instructor will bring us donuts if we do well in today’s quiz.”

students working on a project

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Extrinsic motivators more readily produce behavior changes and typically involve relatively little effort or preparation. Also, efforts at applying extrinsic motivators often do not require extensive knowledge of individual students.


On the other hand, extrinsic motivators can often distract students from learning the subject at hand. It can be challenging to devise appropriate rewards and punishments for student behaviors. Often, one needs to escalate the rewards and punishments over time to maintain a certain effect level. Also, extrinsic motivators typically do not work over the long term. Once the rewards or punishments are removed, students lose their motivation.So, concluding from this, I can say that if there is no motivation, then there is no lesson.

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