Motivating Students While it may be a teacher?s dream to


While it may be a teacher's dream to instruct a class full of naturally enthusiastic students, the reality of the matter is that only a handful of students are motivated to learn on their own. In fact, many students need or expect their teachers to inspire and motivate them: 'Effective learning in the classroom depends on the teacher's ability ' to maintain the interest that brought students to the course in the first place' (Ericksen, 1978, p.3). Therefore, whatever level of motivation students may have brought to the classroom will be changed by what goes on in the classroom which leaves a great responsibility on teachers.

One strategy teachers can employ to motivate their students is to monopolize on the existing needs of students. Students may have enrolled in a certain class or may have sought a private instructor for a specific purpose in mind. They may need to become competent to succeed in a particular task, like taking an external exam, or they may need to perfect certain language skills or they may need to satisfy their desire to encounter new experiences and new people. If teachers keep these needs in mind while designing homework assignments, in class activities and discussion topics the students will feel as though there is an incentive to learn since their needs are being met. When the student perceives that there is a personal meaning and value in what they are learning they are motivated to do the best they can.

Another strategy is to make students an active participant in the learning process. Teachers may fall in the trap of talking too much and doing all the explaining and demonstrating themselves not realizing that this kind of teaching style turns students into passive bystanders. Students may not have the urge to ask questions and explore their curiosity in this kind of an environment. Teachers should not tell students something when they can ask them; in other words, teachers need to pose lots of questions and have students suggest answers to a problem. Teachers can even let students have a say in choosing what will be studied or assigned to them by allowing them to have several options to choose from. This kind of collaborating teaching cultivates motivation, because students feel that they are valued members of a learning community and increases their confidence.

Research has shown that one's expectations have a powerful effect on another's performance and this is especially true in the case of teachers and students. If teachers treat their students to be motivated, diligent and intelligent, they are more likely to be so. However, teachers need to set realistic goals that are challenging enough, but within the reach of their students and can also help students help achievable goals for themselves. Encouraging students to focus on their improvement so far and to analyze their strengths will help them to work on their weaknesses in a positive manner.

Teachers also need to bear in mind that students tend to compare themselves with others. Competition bears anxiety which can interfere with learning and maintaining their motivation, so rather than designing games where people are labeled as losers and winners teachers should opt for activities where students can work cooperatively in groups. Also, when teachers discuss the overall performance of students they should refrain from giving negative criticisms in front of the entire class. If teachers have identified a student's weakness, talk to the student in private and be sensitive on the tone and the choice of words; your feedback should be specific and should be related to a particular task or performance, not to the student as a person. In addition to giving feedback, teachers should also bear in mind that grades should not be overly emphasized.