- Educators can help boost students' excitement about school work by focusing on three main strategies — using intrinsic motivation, removing extrinsic motivation, and helping learners build self-management skills — as outlined by learning consultant Mike Anderson, according to an article from ASCD.
- Intrinsic motivation stems from educators helping students see the value in their work, or the “why” of an assignment or lesson, which can be supported by offering more student choice and by having learners work together and feel invested in their work as part of a group. This is the opposite of extrinsic motivation, which rewards students with something such as extra time at recess and can actually harm motivation in the end.
- Teachers can also help students develop self-motivation skills, which include learning how to ask for help and knowing how to prioritize tasks.
Sparking excitement to learn is a crucial part of engaging students in lessons and positively impacting their learning. One way teachers can accomplish this is by offering different options, from dividing tasks into smaller goals to offering more student choice and helping students see the value in their work.
Students who believe there is value in the work they’re doing ascribe more “meaning to the assignment or activity,” according to Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching. Teachers can help impart this by connecting an activity to something in a student's life, creating assignments that are different from what classes have done before or pairing students with peers who are excited about learning.
Breaking tasks into smaller pieces can also help motivate students. By giving learners the opportunity to experience small wins as they work through a larger project, they can develop a sense of accomplishment. That win can then be noted on a project wall, where children can track their success and gain further motivation to complete their work.
Mentorship can also play a role in motivation. An older peer at school or a recent graduate can help current students see a real-world, positive outcome for their efforts. Giving students a choice in their work is also a strong motivator, as it allows them to select the assignment or method they believe showcases their learning the best. In offering students these options, they may take more interest in what they’re exploring, which can help drive them to succeed in their learning.