Academic Motivation
Welcome to Chapter 11! In this chapter we will be discussing teaching strategies for fostering motivation in an academic setting. Before this chapter can continue though, we must consider the three prerequisites.

1. We, as educators, must recognize that in order for students to be motivated they require a purpose. That purpose must be related to something the student is invested in; it doesn’t matter if it is fun, interesting, or even obvious to the teacher.

2. Doing something relevant to a student’s interest isn’t enough. The learning goal that we want the student to achieve must be somehow woven into the experience. The student interest cannot just be a carrot dangling in front of their faces. After all, we do want the students to be learning the task we presented to them; don’t forget we have our motivating purpose as well.

3. Students must be well prepared by the teacher. Properly framed schema, drawing on prior knowledge and experience, and clarity of the goal must be established for the student to be capable of finding success and maintaining motivation. Reinforcement of success, especially incrementally, will sustain motivation.

In Learning and Instruction: Theory into Practice by Margaret E. Gredler had many ideas, strategies and theories for bolstering motivation in academic settings. The following PowerPoint sums those points up well.

However, we feel that motivating your students isn’t this cut and dry.

Remembering the perquisites listed previously we would like to share some strategies to consider when building a learning task for students:

1. Use of rubrics – First, you have to be willing to let go of some of your control as a teacher. Be open to giving the students some choice and freedom. Allow the students to make their own decisions on the journey they will take. If you begin to be concerned that your students will be way off base, provide a rubric. A rubric is a great way to establish parameters without necessarily telling the students what or how to do something. This requires a little work on the teacher’s end of things (i.e. picking the truly important facets of the learning goals), but truthfully that is just one more way to show the student s what is most important that they learn from the task at hand.

2. Knowing that your limitations don’t have to be their limitations too - Example, just because we are inept with technology doesn’t mean we can’t let our students use it. This isn’t just about giving students more freedom and it isn’t just about letting them think outside of YOUR box; it is about validation. If you can not only say “Do as you wish” but you can also tell them “Wow! Great idea, I wouldn’t have thought of that”, it can be really powerful.

Differentiation – Teachers must be willing to differentiate their curriculum if they want students to find success. In particular, differentiation is most applicable in terms of motivation when considering the level of challenge a teacher presents in comparison to the readiness of the student.

ZPD Graphic

This graphic represents how boredom and confusion can be by-products of mismatching levels of readiness (student skill) and challenge. It is fairly common sense that in most cases, not all, that students will invariably lose motivation if they are experiencing either end of the spectrum, boredom or confusion.

Another theory that is comparable to this representation of ZPD is "Flow Theory". Introduced to us by Christopher Hlas and Mark Frie. Here is a graphic:
Flow Theory Graphic
A student will find themselves in the "Flow Zone" when the amount of challenge a problem will present them with and the amount of skill they have to solve the problem has a direct variation relationship. Students will find themselves working to their highest potential if they are in the "flow" because it is a frame of mind that they are capable of achieving success. When a student is thinking in the "flow", they are motivated sufficiently to be participating in enough of a least restrictive environment that they are not distracted cognitively by anything outside of their environment.

Here are some examples of students choosing their own way to represent their project on the Pythagorean Spiral.

The person in the following video really sums up motivation in a classroom really well, enjoy!

Here is the lab write-up for a hands-on lab that was done in a Honors Trigonometry Course. The idea is...

Here is the video used in the Kickin' It Parametric Lab:

In the Expectancy-Value Model there are five behaviors that are related to the students' success. Students need to be given a choice so that they can determine the extent of effort that they want to provide for a given task. They can determine how persistent they want to be at that task, depending on its difficulty. When the task is completed they can assess their actual performance and determine how successful they were. The greater success one achieves, the more cognitive engagement that individual will most likely receive in that particular area or subject. They will be then be more likely want to attempt more tasks, and more difficult tasks, in this particular area as well.

Our lives are full of factors that contribute to who we are. That also goes for motivation as well. A student's aptitude is one factor that contributes to their motivational beliefs. Depending on where a person is from or in the environment that they were raised in can affect the way they view gender roles, cultural stereotypes about the subject matter, and their past achievements. A sixth grader raised in an Muslim home in Saudi Arabia that has moved to Chicago may view things quite differently than another student raised in Chicago.

There are positive and negative emotions when we look at the attribution theory, and these emotions are both internal and external. When we attain successes we have a great sense of pride and our self-esteem will grow along with our confidence with these subjects. When are efforts fail or we do not complete the task(s) as we think we should, then we feel embarrassment and shame. Depending on our efforts, we may feel guilt if the effort was low. Another feeling that may arouse and be expressed is anger.

One attributes his/her success to what he/she has done previously and how successful he/she was at similar tasks, besides his/her own developmental or skill level. The indivdual will compare how others have fared and compare how success has previously been expressed (socail norm). The learner will need to look at his/her own characteristics and abilities, as well as how he/she views success.

Mastery-oriented classrooms, classrooms that develop new skills and help students' understand their work, emphasize that the students to do three things. The students need to put effort into to their work for them to be successful. There are expectations that the students will challenge themselves and by doing this they will show improvement. Teachers will be postive in nature and enthusiastic. The teacher will encourage student to be persistent and to continue to put forth great effort, as well as look at mistakes as a way to learn and to grow.

Performance-oriented classrooms will display only the best work, the 'A' work. Scores will be announced and the results will be posted for all to see. This reflects performance is what is important in the classroom and not growth by individuals. Teachers will also use both positive and negative feedback in the classroom.

They are many ways that teachers can implement a classroom that is better suited for growth of the students. Teachers can vary assignments based on the level of the students in their class, especially Math. Teachers can use flexible groups and provide opportunities for many group projects. A very meaningful way for students to learn is thorugh the assistance of somebody their own age: a peer assistant. The students will benefit greatly when teachers place comments on their work that is useful to their growth. One of the best ways to make the students feel successful is to allow them participate in decision making and rule making because it gives them ownership in the class. Also, allow students to design assignments that will challenge the class. Get the students involved in the running of the class.

There are many ways that teachers can create a positive learning environment. Students learn great from each other, so use cooperative groups and small groups for some tasks that would be more beneficial to complete this way. When reviewing, a teacher can use the Jigsaw method or teams. We want to call on all students and provide time for answers to be given. We may need to reword the question for some students to answer. Keep expectations positive and believe in the students' abilities to succeed at their own levels.