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Motivating Students

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There is a strong link between student motivation and learning. Students learn material that they find interesting and challenging. Since learning is an ongoing process and since the student is constantly in a learning situation, motivation plays a central role in the amount of time students will invest in their learning. Your task is to facilitate learning in the classroom; this is partly accomplished by motivating students to learn. Yet you cannot make students be motivated. All you can do is increase the probability that the students will move themselves in the direction of the course goals. The challenge is to create a learning environment in which students become independent in their learning instead of relying on external reward. This entails providing opportunities for students to move from extrinsic motivation to intrinsic motivation. This process can be facilitated by fostering critical thinking, by providing a positive feeling tone, by heightening interest, by increasing the level of success and by providing immediate feedback. These elements are all related to previously mentioned aspects of teaching. Part of the "art" of teaching involves guiding and encouraging students to be independent and self-motivated, helping them explore their own strengths, and facilitating their personal and intellectual growth. How can you take an active role in motivating student learning?

The following tips may help:

  • Begin with the student; use the students' interests in your examples.
  • Establish the relevance of the course; discuss the ways in which you find the course interesting.
  • Involve the students in the choice of what will be studied, where possible; provide a variety of readings they can choose from.
  • Arrange learning tasks at levels appropriate to the abilities of your students.
  • Reward your students by providing immediate and specific feedback.
  • Offer opportunities for students to experience the thrill of discovering; increase their curiosity in the field. Curiosity fosters learning.
  • Use teacher-student interactions: involve the students; place them in an active learning situation.
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