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Motivation in the classroomThere is a difference between wanting to learn to do something than actually taking the effort to do so. Many people say they would like to learn to play guitar when they hear a friend playing a song that they themselves have only heard through Guitar Hero. Who would actually search out for a guitar instructor or would purchase a guitar to practice at home? There are those who do, but many who do not.
Motivation. It can be seen as what separates aspirations from actual productivity.
At the same time, there may be no goals or aspirations without motivation.
The key point is to turn any curiosity or motivation in learning into doing.
This has become a problem that all teachers will struggle with in their classroom.
How do we encourage and sustain motivation in the classroom?
There are many reasons why students may want to learn, which are broken down into two categories: extrinsic and intrinsic. The first is external factors that help motivate the student to learn. The latter is internal factors. Now what exactly does this mean? Examples below:
1. Extrinsic: External motivations to learn
a. Parents have signed up their children to learn ESL
b. English is required for work
2. Intrinsic: Internal motivations to learn
a. student?s own interest in learning new languages
b. Enjoys learning and wants to travel to english speaking countries*
*Travelling can technically be seen as extrinsic and intrinsic (Unit 1).
While both factor into a student?s desire to learn, intrinsic learning could be considered the best choice. When students are eager to learn, they make the effort to do. It is found that students who are intrinsically motivated will prefer tasks that are challenging versus extrinsically motivated ones who will choose
the simplest tasks. The latter students will also put the ?minimal amount of effort necessary to get the maximal reward? (Lepper as cited by ERIC, par. 17).
Some suggestions to help ?motivate? students will involve a reward system such as using sticker charts or prizes. While this helps to a certain extent, this has a few flaws: students will only learn or work if a prize is involved and it may not work for all ages.
Here are other suggestions to help build and support students to become self-motivated with intrinsic motivation as listed by Davis:
? Create an open and positive atmosphere
? Give frequent positive feedback that encourages students? beliefs that they can do well.
? Ensure opportunities for students? success that is neither too easy nor too challenging
? Allow students to relate the material, so they may find meaning in it.
? Help students feel that they are valued members of a learning community.
Now, not all students will naturally be inclined to learn nor will they all want to learn the same things; therefore, what are we as instructors to do?
One method to help unmotivated students is to use a process called Attribution Retraining. The steps are to
1. Help the student focus on the task than fear of failure,
2. Respond to frustration by retracing a student?s steps to find mistakes or brainstorming alternate ways to approach a problem
3. Attribute failures to lack of effort or information rather than the student?s lack of ability (Brophy as cited by ERIC, par. 26).
As always, continue to practice good teaching habits every day. Create lessons that foster creativity and allow students to voice their opinions. Research has shown that students respond more positively to a well-organized course taught by an enthusiastic instructor with an interest in students and what they learn than specific actions to motivate students directly (Ericksen as cited by Davis, par. 5).
ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management. student Motivation to Learn. April 20,
Davis, Barbara G. Motivating students. Tools for Teaching. September 1, 1999.
Unit 1 of tefl course book.