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Most instructors have, at some point or another, felt their enthusiasm for class deflate, if only momentarily. Teaching becomes challenging when faced with students who are visibly disengaged, routinely unprepared, or seemingly interested in one question alone: "Will this be on the final?"
Research on motivation and learning suggests that students are motivated to learn when:
- They value what they are learning,
- They expect to succeed,
- They have some choice in or control over the task, and
- The cost of failure is low. (Svinicki, 2004)
Instructors can use these research findings to motivate students by:
- Administering frequent low-stakes opportunities to practice skills.
- Offering early and regular feedback on student performance.
- Explaining the value of the course or of individual assignments. (How might the skills and knowledge learned the course apply to other courses in or outside of the major?)
- Connecting course material to their real world experiences.
- Beginning a class by determining what students already know or believe about a topic.
- Incorporating active learning strategies such as games and simulations, collaborative learning, clickers, blogs, wikis, problem-based learning, or community-based service learning.
Enhancing Student Motivation & Engagement
On September 26th, 2008, DePaul held a faculty workshop on ways to increase student motivation and engagement. The speaker, Barbara Walvoord, is a nationally recognized expert on college teaching and learning.
You can download the video and/or audio of the entire presentation and the PDF files on iTunes U for free. The presentation link will redirect to a log-in page requiring a Campus Connection log in.
Svinicki, M.D. (2004). Learning and motivation in the postsecondary classroom. Bolton, MA: Anker.
Active/Inquiry-based Learning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has active learning activities for in and out of the classroom.
(Chapter from Barbara Davis's Tools for Teaching)
Motivating students (Vanderbilt Center for Teaching)
Motivating students (Carleton College)
Student goal orientation, motivation, and learning (IDEA Paper 41)
Capturing and directing the motive to learn (Newsletter from Stanford's Center for Teaching and Learning)