Achieving and Developmenting Student Motivation
One out of every five high school graduates in America does not even finish college. However, this statistic does not mean that a lack of skills translates into a lack of motivation. In fact, it is possible that educational institutions ignore this fact to a fault. Instead of seeing students as individuals who need a purpose to motivate them, they simply accept them as functionaries. In reality, this is a shortsighted approach, and there are ways to stimulate motivation that have nothing to do with fixing a schedule. In our professional studies, we have seen firsthand that viewing students as vessels of aspiration is more realistic than simply treating students as employees.
As with all moments in life, motivation requires a balance of multiple variables. The biggest factor determining student motivation is identity. Students must define who they are before they can encourage one another. Identity starts with what they are creating. Otherwise, they will create what they want to be when they grow up. Students’ sense of purpose should not be limited to the coursework that they are currently taking. Some students have quite a bit of focus on the field that they have chosen. Others, who are more unsure of what they want to do, may create a sense of purpose by working within a broader community.
Additionally, identify the beliefs that motivate and support the goals of an individual. Students should use the framework of a six-step strategy in order to motivate themselves and push their organizations to greater heights. These are the factors that students should consider when creating a specific purpose for themselves:
Quiet the feelings that do not serve the purpose. Begin this process with your students by raising questions to increase their awareness of the obstacles that they face. For example, questions such as, “what obstacles is your class encountering?” or “how can my class best integrate this topic?” This type of inquiry can generate new ideas that foster student’s interest and motivation in the classes.
Invite students to participate. The focus on presenting information can often become mechanical, and unless the presenter has an active group with which to collaborate, the information is rarely considered new and significant. Therefore, take the opportunity to involve students in creating the content that you present and then allow them to take ownership in the execution.
Create a structure that every participant can contribute to. Every team in the group must have the ability to successfully assess the input of others and choose the best solutions.
Engage the entire team in an iterative process. Every team that MindShift has worked with has experienced the benefits of iterative process. The learning method offers a constantly changing platform that allows groups to constantly feel challenged as they test and analyze each other’s decisions.
Release them to go learn. Students should stop counting themselves as employees, and replace them with students. Instead of looking at them as jobs to do, consider them as subjects to teach. Students should not just take a course, learn it and leave. Instead, look at students as projects that require extensive consulting and attention to details. Providing insight and incorporating concepts into a tangible and meaningful experience, will ultimately boost motivation and build student’s confidence in the process.
Provide accountability. A key to unlocking students’ motivation is giving them the ability to measure their work. Beginning a project with a simple checklist will only result in a work in progress. Providing the students with a “stretch mark” will allow students to make progress without fear of dropping and completely miss the opportunity to make big progress.