Steps to student motivation

How can parents and teachers set up learning environments for children? The following general principles can be applied.

• The pressure on the student must be minimised. Remove competition or social comparison.

• Ensure the task is of an appropriate level of challenge for the student’s age and ability level. If it is too easy the student will be bored and un-motivated. If the level of difficulty is above the student’s ability, it could lead to frustration.

• The task should also be meaningful and relevant to the learner. Students often comment “Why do I have to learn about….. I’ll never use this when I grow up!” The aim of the task should be to improve or gain some skill rather than rote memorization of irrelevant facts.

• Appropriate use of rewards. Use praise liberally. Reward for effort and improvement and not just for performance.

• Provide choice. Students will be more motivated to engage in a task if they have some say in what the task is, how it is to be carried out and presented. The more controlling the teacher is the less motivated the learner will be.

• The structure of the learning exercise affects the level of motivation. There must be clear instructions given. Guidelines on how the task is to be performed must be specific and well understood. Immediate and useful feedback are crucial.

• A supportive environment is a must. Students do not

perform or think well when they feel invalidated or threatened.