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Home Classroom ActivitiesMotivating Students
Motivating Students

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:


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 on iTunes U for free. Here are the instructions on how to do this:

  1. Download iTunes if you haven't installed it already.
  2. Authenticate with Campus Connection using your DePaul ID or enter as a guest.
  3. iTunes should automatically load at this point. If it doesn't, launch the program yourself.
  4. Queue Barbara Walvoord's video and watch it in iTunes.

Additional Readings

Svinicki, M.D.  (2004). Learning and motivation in the postsecondary classroom. Bolton, MA: Anker.

Motivating students (Vanderbilt Center for Teaching)

Motivating students (Carleton College)

Student goal orientation, motivation, and learning (IDEA Paper 41) pdf

Capturing and directing the motive to learn (Newsletter from Stanford's Center for Teaching and Learning) pdf

Dealing with apathetic students (University of Oregon)