Teachers often feel frustrated by unmotivated learners and helpless regarding how to change the situation. There might not be a magic wand, but guess what? We don't need one because motivation is a state of mind, which is influenced by a combination of internal and external variables. Just relax and focus on the external variables you can influence. Below is a range of basic to more advanced information on motivation. It never hurts to review the basics! Take what is useful to you and set a goal to focus on at least one change you are willing to implement.
Often the following conditions are assumed. Do not underestimate their power to motivate your learners!
√ Classroom climate
√ Task dimensions
√ Task definition
Remember the acronym MCRU.
Student expectation for success - is it low or high?
Student value for the task - does the student value the task?
Although many factors contribute to the behaviors listed in the grid, it is one way of looking at student behavior and trying to determine where motivation may be breaking down. Certainly, we cannot force a child to value a behavior or have an expectation for success, but we can set the occasion by creating a positive classroom environment and modeling enthusiasm for learning. Lastly, we can praise effort to instill the idea that effort pays off and teach students to use mistakes as tools for learning.
Source: Notes from Dr. Marcy Reisetter's Advanced Educational Psychology course, University of South Dakota
Intrinsic motivation is when people engage in activities out of personal choice. Since we know some children would never chose some activities (eating peas, cleaning their room), adults may need to employ extrinsic motivation, which is any external pressure (encouragement or punishment) used to get someone to perform a task.
Examples of extrinsic motivators:
Which is Better?
This is a hotly debated issue, but my belief is that both intrinsic & extrinsic motivation serve a purpose. Obviously intrinsic motivation is ideal; however, extrinsic motivation might be necessary to motivate some learners. (Research on this topic is extensive and divided between opposing philosophic camps. Do some research and decide for yourself!)