Motivational Tools for Students: Techniques & Examples

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  • 0:01 Defining Motivation
  • 1:55 Motivational Tools
  • 4:30 Teacher Motivation
  • 4:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jade Mazarin

Jade is a board certified Christian counselor with an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy, and a certification in Natural Health. She is also a freelance writer on emotional health and spirituality.

In this lesson, we will explore the importance of student motivation and ways that teachers can motivate their students through tools like rewards, praise, and encouraging independence.

Defining Motivation

Have you been one of those students who participates often in class? Did you enjoy learning and want to do well on tests? Or have you been a student who went to class because you had to, so you did the bare minimum to get by? Chances are if you were the first student, you felt motivated. That motivation could have come from your own desires to achieve and/or from the teacher's efforts to make class interesting. On the other hand, if you identify more with the second scenario chances are you felt, you guessed it, unmotivated. And your lack of motivation probably made it harder for you to pay attention consistently, absorb the notes you took, and answer questions posed by the teacher. Not surprisingly, when we are not feeling motivated in school, we get less out of it. That's why teachers and educators do a lot of talking about what techniques they can use to foster motivation in their students.

Before we look into strategies used to create motivation, let's get clear that motivation is the inner drive to act. When you want to feel healthier and more toned, you exercise. The more you want those things, the more you choose to do it. Of course, there are times you would rather lay on the couch and watch television. In those instances, you don't have the motivation to get moving.

Motivation can be intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is based on personal interest, self-fulfillment or the desire to grasp material. However, extrinsic motivation is based on the desire for certain results—like grades or teacher recognition. To use the earlier example, if you wanted to exercise to feel better and healthier, it would be intrinsic motivation—it's for you. But if you did it to please a person in your life, it would be extrinsic motivation. Both kinds are useful for teachers to foster in their students, though intrinsic is especially valuable since it comes from within.

Motivational Tools

There are several strategies that teachers use in order to inspire students with the motivation to learn and do their best in class. Below are a handful of the most common ones:

1. Praise

Praising the student's achievements is a powerful motivator. If students feel they are noticed and their efforts are appreciated, they'll feel more inclined to continue trying hard. Teachers should be specific about their praise. For example, 'You did great on your multiplication tables,' rather than just saying, 'You did a good job.' That way, students know what it takes to do well. Teachers can write a note on a test or tell the student in a conversation, but it is important to always look for opportunities to praise. And if a student is showing improvement, it's very beneficial to point it out so they will keep wanting to move forward.

2. Variety of exercises

Students can get bored with the same old thing every day. Besides, say, lecturing and note taking, teachers can let their creativity guide them in coming up with other exercises to arouse interest. These can include: small group discussions, case studies, role-playing, guest speakers, and more. Also, since students have varied ways of learning, providing multiple strategies enables students to use their optimal way of grasping material.

3. Give rewards

Rewards are a common motivator for everyone, including students. Teachers can put forth a goal to their students and let them know that those who reach it can get a candy bar, for example. Other ideas range from the stickers on papers to pizza parties or a dress down day.

4. Offer ways to improve

For students who are struggling, finding the motivation to study can be especially challenging. Teachers need to be aware of these students and offer them verbal encouragement and optional times to meet for extra help. They also can offer a project or extra homework assignment that can give these students a chance to catch up if they need to.

5. Encourage independence

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