Motivation in Education: Strategies for Students and Teachers


  Motivation in Education: Strategies for Students and Teachers

With the rise in mental health issues among students in schools that are increasingly competitive, it has become more necessary than ever before to discuss the topic of how to maintain motivation. Some of the strategies that are commonly used by educators include intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, and they have helped many students. But as educators try their best to provide a safe and engaging environment in which kids flourish, motivation becomes more difficult for them to implement. This is especially true with millennials, who have been found as less motivated than older generations.

Intrinsic motivation is associated with the desire to do something because doing it is personally meaningful. This form of motivation arises from within. People derive meaning from a task or activity by connecting it to themselves or their beliefs through personal values and desires. Sometimes intrinsic motivation will strike when people are in the moment inadvertently, but other times it can come about when they are more intentionally waiting for that point in time where they feel compelled to act on a certain task (Mutchler, 2012).  Many young adults today, however, tend to catch themselves at this point in time once they find that their future needs are not being met by our current social climate. 

Extrinsic motivation, which is an external force acting on a person, exists in contrast to intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic rewards are based on recognition and a sense of accomplishment. However, extrinsic rewards do not always lead to happiness and are often not long term. In contrast, intrinsic rewards are lasting and help people build relationships with their goals or tasks (Mutchler, 2012).  One of the biggest challenges educators have to face is getting students to realize that their education will be best achieved by taking charge of their own self-motivation instead of relying on others for the same reason that they excelled in school: praise, recognition or just simply getting good grades.  If a student is able to find intrinsic motivation in what they are doing, then they will be driven to learn.

For many people, it is important to have a presence of other people. Some researchers argue that the presence of other people will produce an aggressive reaction on behalf of the person being observed (Bandura, 1986).  Psychologists believe that the reason why humans are compelled by this theory is because humans have evolved into social creatures. The influence of others has been shown to have an impact on our behavior, especially when we believe that there is something expected out of us (Cialdini, 2013). 

Social learning theory in psychology focuses on how people learn from others and their behaviors. Albert Bandura, the originator of this theory, believed that one’s behavior is influenced by their environment and the actions of others. He realized that it is nearly impossible to think of someone who does not learn from other people. In each group or school, students learn from each other (Mutchler, 2013).  In some schools and communities, teachers will often enforce discipline through reward systems. These programs are effective for a short period of time but soon lose their powerful effects when the people receiving them realize that they will get what they want even without completing assignments (Wendling & Cokley, 2011). 

In this modern age, many people are so busy with work that they don’t have time to think about their day-to-day activities. They will be focused on helping the bottom line for their company, and as a result, more people are starting to believe that education is no longer important. Students begin to feel discouraged about getting a degree because they feel like they won’t get a job in the future. In contrast, those who do get a job often feel like they do not have room in their work life to go back and get another degree (Rocha et al., 2010).  Educators feel that if they are able to figure out how to get their students motivated, then they will be better off in the long run.

An individual’s level of motivation has been found to be related to his or her ability to learn. Studies have shown that low achievers are generally less interested in school and tend not to have high intrinsic motivation. Students who achieve more tend to exhibit higher levels of intrinsic motivation, which may relate back to their natural growth spurts as they begin to catch up with their peers. It is often recommended by researchers and teachers alike that the best way for students to improve is for them to find connections between what is being taught in schools and real life (Aylward et al. 2011).  This will keep them motivated and connected to what they are learning.

Students today are more attentive to the outside world and the media that is disseminated throughout it. It is common for college students to be glued to their smartphones or computers as kids watch television shows on screens instead of being in the real world. Social media plays a part in this because it often makes them feel like they have an outlet for all of their feelings and emotions on social media (Rocha et al., 2010).  They do not want to focus on what they can do in life, but instead try to find out how the world looks from another’s perspective.  In this way, social media is likely to lower their intrinsic motivation.

Research suggests that the more students are motivated, the more they are able to learn and do well in school. At a young age, little is known about how to improve intrinsic motivation in students. It is believed that intrinsic motivations can be learned at any point in an individual's life (Aylward et al., 2011).   
Students need to feel like they belong here on earth and feel like they have something special to give back; once this feeling of belonging and purpose then becomes a deep sense of truth for them, it will fuel their motivation (  It has been found that more self-motivated students are able to learn more and feel the desire to continue learning.  Some of the ways in which teachers can support their students' motivation include setting intentions for their classes and making decisions about whom to reward, when to reward, what rewards to give, etc. (Rocha et al., 2010).

When introducing new initiatives or learning environment changes, teachers tend to fail because they do not know how much of a change is too little or too much. It is common for teachers today to implement a new program or initiative without first testing it out on willing participants who have given their consent. When teachers put their ideas and initiatives into practice without first testing them, these can fail. This could lead to an entire school year being wasted.

Failing the momentum that was originally gained when the initiative or program was first tried out hurts both the morale of the students or staff members involved in it and the reputation of the teachers (Boyle, 2012).  Teachers need to be going through a trial-and-error process when implementing new initiatives and programs. Here, they will be able to view them from a bird’s eye view; this is how they are able to see what steps they need to take in order for it to work (Wendling & Cokley, 2011).

Conclusion: It is clear that the perception of education is very important nowadays. Being educated and having an earning power are two factors that can determine one's future.

"This Article addresses the relationship between knowledge, learning and motivation within the educational setting." More specifically it addresses "the relationships between knowledge, motivation and learning in the classroom." This is an article about how knowledge/skills acquired in a course can facilitate subsequent learning or development in a student's life. This article also examines some of the key factors that limit or enhance the effectiveness of knowledge/skills acquired in a course.

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