>Motivating students

>No one is likely to argue over the importance of motivation in student achievement.

I found this list in several places on the internet outlining what teachers can do to improve motivation.

I would struggle to tick off many of these for some of the courses that we have used to teach ICT. Motivation was certainly a factor when laying out the course and we can see opportunities for all of these criteria to be met with the IEA.

  1. Ensure course materials relate to students’ lives and highlight ways learning can be applied in real-life situations (Lumsden, 1994; Skinner & Belmont, 1991). Schoolwork should be meaningful to students outside the school building, as well as within. Students are more engaged in activities when they can build on prior knowledge and draw clear connections between what they are learning and the world they live in. They also need to feel that “school work is significant, valuable, and worthy of their efforts” (Policy Studies Associates, 1995).
  2. Allow students to have some degree of control over learning (Brooks et al., 1998). This can be done in any number of ways, from giving students choices between different assignments, to minimizing adult supervision over group projects, to letting students monitor and evaluate their own progress (Anderman & Midgley, 1998; Dev, 1997; Policy Studies Associates, 1995). Anderman & Midgely (1998) note that this doesn’t mean teachers must relinquish control of the classroom: “Even small opportunities for choice, such as whether to work with a partner or independently” (p. 3) give students a greater sense of autonomy.
  3. Assign challenging but achievable tasks for all students, including at-risk, remedial, and learning disabled students. Tasks that seem impossible easily discourage learners, as do those tasks that are rote and repetitive (Dev, 1997; Policy Studies Associates, 1995). Remedial programs that limit students to repetitive basic skills activities actually “prompt students’ lack of engagement in their schoolwork and frequently result in limited achievement” (Policy Studies Associates, 1995). Students need to feel successful and that they’ve earned success.
  4. Arouse students’ curiosity about the topic being studied. Strong, Silver, and Robinson (1995) suggest using the “mystery” approach, in which students are presented with fragmentary or contradictory information about a subject and are then asked to examine available evidence to develop their own hypotheses. This kind of activity also builds on students’ needs for competence and autonomy, giving students an opportunity to direct inquiry and “discover for themselves.”
  5. Design projects that allow students to share new knowledge with others. Strong, Silver & Robinson (1995) observe that when students do assignments that only the teacher will read, they are entering into a nonreciprocal relationship. More often than not, the teacher already knows and has no real need for the information the student is providing him or her. Projects are more engaging when students share what they are learning in reciprocal relationships, as in collaborative projects where each student’s knowledge is needed by others in the group to complete an assignment.
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