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Tool: Motivating students to learn

Motivation = the student’s expectation of succeeding in the task times the value the student places on the task. If either expectation or value is low, then motivation is low. Motivation participates in a larger pattern of teaching and learning.

Balanced use of motivation strategies*

 

Do I use both:

 

Visible in plans and materials?

Visible during instruction?

Visible in marks on student work?

a range of strategies for increasing students’ expectation of success in the task

Use my knowledge of students’ past work to design specific opportunities for success.

 

 

 

Teach students to set reasonable goals and to assess their own performance.

 

 

 

Help students to recognize (in successful work) the relationship between effort and outcome.

 

 

 

Provide students informative feedback about their performances and products.

 

 

 

and

 

 

 

 

a range of strategies for increasing the value that students place on the task?

Show my own interest in learning and the matter at hand.

 

 

 

Relate lessons to students’ own lives.

 

 

 

Provide opportunities to choose the question, topic, task, partner, materials, etc.

 

 

 

Provide opportunities to respond actively, to work actively with the subject.

 

 

 

Provide opportunities to interact with peers in the course of the work.

 

 

 

Enable students to complete finished products (something they can be proud of).

 

 

 

Effectively praise good work.

 

 

 

*Adapted from Weinstein, C.S., & Mignano, A.J. (2003). Elementary/Secondary classroom management: Lessons from research and practice. New York: McGraw-Hill

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Meaning of terms used in the tool

"Effectively praise good work"

Means

Does NOT mean

The teacher actually does admire the student's performance or product.

The teacher specifically describes the product or performance, for example, "You explained your reasoning clearly."

The teacher is just tossing pellets to the pigeons to keep them pecking.

The teacher offers a general positive remark, for example "good job."

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"Design specific opportunities for success"

Means

Does NOT mean

Learning specifically what a student can do and assigning a task on which the student has a better than even chance of succeeding.

Assigning any task to students, on the grounds that all tasks provide all students some opportunity to learn.

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"Recognize the relationship between effort and outcome"

Means

Does NOT mean

Noticing when students do an adequate or good job, reporting that to them and asking them how it was accomplished, in the expectation that the students' effort will be an important part of the explanation.

Telling students that if they will just try they can do it. That might or might not be true, and the students' experience may be otherwise.

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"Informative feedback about their products and performances"

Means

Does NOT mean

Describing to the student her or his product and comparing it to standards. That is, giving the student information about the work relative to standards for it.

Telling the student whether the teacher likes the work or not. That is, giving the student information about the teacher's state of mind.

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"Complete finished products "

Means

Does NOT mean

Assigning tasks in which students finish performances or productions that others can admire in themselves, and not solely because they contribute to students' learning.

Holding that everything students do in school can be finished well or poorly and therefore that students who finish can be proud.

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"Relate lessons to students' own lives "

Means

Does NOT mean

Finding out about students' lives and making specific connections between the lesson and those lives.

Saying that the lesson is related to the lives that the teacher assumes the students live.

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"Opportunities to choose"

Means

Does NOT mean

Offering students a list of options, all of which serve the purposes of the class, and leaving the choice to them so that they do their work partly as an exercise of their own will.

Turning the class over to the students to run.
Inviting students to choose anything they can imagine.

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"To work actively"

Means

Does NOT mean

For example, asking students questions and getting their responses while lecturing or reading to them.
For example, designing an assignment as a task for groups, to increase students' opportunities to speak and thus practice with the skills or ideas.

Declaring that every task or assignment requires students to be "active" in some way.

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"Interact with peers "

Means

Does NOT mean

Designing productive tasks, in which students interact about the task, complete it together, etc.

Also, defining routines for the work that allow a little chit-chat so long as the work is getting done.

Declaring free time for students to talk to each other about anything they please.

Declaring that every classroom interaction among students satisfies the intrinsic need for affiliation with others.

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