Increasing Motivation in the Classroom

By Bri Tambellini, Secondary English Education Major/ ACH Clear Pathways After-School Arts Program Intern

Last week during homework time, a student was completing a worksheet. She stopped working and said to me, “Miss Bri, you know when you have to do something, but you have no motivation to do it?” I instantly smiled and reassured her that I have struggled many times with motivation and still do. What I’ve learned is that motivation doesn’t always determine whether or not a task will be completed. For example, after our brief conversation, this student continued working on the assignment until it was done. Motivation does, however, play a crucial part in whether or not someone will enjoy what they are doing.

I reflected on what motivates me and I found that many times it is control and interest. I recently wrote a paper that asked me to respond to a given prompt. I had no interest in the topic and my only motivation for it was that I had to do it for my grade. In this same class today, we began discussing our final papers. What is different about the final paper is that we are able to decide what topic we write on. This task is more appealing to me because I have much more control over my situation and the freedom to discuss a topic that interests me.

I believe choices can have a huge impact on my future students and whether or not they are motivated to complete tasks. When I think of small group class discussions, instead of assigning one or two questions to each group, it might be better to provide all of the groups with a series of questions and ask them to choose one or two to discuss. Similarly, instead of providing one prompt for a paper, I might provide students with several prompts to choose from or the option to create their own. By doing this, students will have more control over their learning, and the opportunity to discuss topics that truly interest them.


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