Student Motivation

SoundOut students presenting their findings about the perfect school.

Student motivation is a learner’s interest and commitment to anything throughout learning, schools or education.

Long seen as a “warm and fuzzy” part of learning, today motivation is being recognized as an essential and enduring part of success in education. Without student motivation, all learning strategies are moot, all school improvement efforts are nil, and all attempts at student engagement are irrelevant and pointless.

Student motivation is the main way to improve schools.

One of the most challenging parts of student motivation is the reality that its not as simple as either students are motivated or they aren’t. Instead, there are many shades of grey involved. Some learners show motivation by simply showing up for class every day, whether or not they’re prepared to learn. Other students have to be loudly, actively and hands-on involved in learning to show their motivation.

An important note about motivation comes from Larry Ferlazzo, a high school teacher in Sacramento, California, who suggests student self-motivation is the key to learning. In an excellent article, he summarizes what it takes for students to become self-motivated, and says there are four qualities of student self-motivation: autonomy, competence, relatedness, and relevance.

Student voice and choice does not automatically increase student motivation, either. By addressing barriers deliberately, educators for all levels of students can begin to motivate all learners in positive, powerful and effective ways towards Meaningful Student Involvement.

Many strategies for Meaningful Student Involvement, student voice and student engagement can increase student motivation, too.

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