Motivation in the classroomMotivation is the thoughts and feelings we have that make us want to do something. Student motivation is very important in the classroom because if the students are not motivated to learn then they simply will not. There are both internal and external factors that play into a student’s motivation. There are also methods that teachers can use to try to encourage students to be more motivated.
Internal factors would be the student’s interests, their reason for learning, values, and their perceived ability. If the student is interested in the topic used to teach the language, they will be more involved and will learn more because they are motivated by their interests. If the student has chosen to learn the language for the purpose of getting a job, they will be a lot more motivated to succeed than if it was not their choice to learn the language. If the student values their teacher’s praise, they will be motivated to succeed to receive that praise and approval. The student may also simply value their own effort and perseverance and try their best to learn the language. The perceived ability of the students can be a stumbling block in their motivation to learn. If the student doesn’t think they will be able to learn, they will not be very motivated to try.
External factors would be peer groups, tasks, instructional practices, and students’ beliefs about their own ability to learn. The people that a student chooses to spend time with will have a huge influence on the motivation of the student. Since everyone has such a strong need to be accepted, they will often change to please their peers, for the better or for the worse. The tasks used by the teacher will affect a student’s motivation, because they may enjoy the task making them more motivated, or they may dislike the task or even feel incapable making them less motivated. Instructional practices can affect the student’s motivation in that the way the teacher teaches or presents assignments can make the student feel challenged but capable or it could make them feel helpless and incapable. The student’s beliefs about their ability to learn is often influenced by messages received at home, at school, or in general society. Depending on their experiences, this could be encouraging leading to confidence in their abilities, or discouraging leading to a lack of confidence even if they are capable.
Teachers have an affect on student’s motivation and if that is not recognized, then the teacher could be discouraging students without even knowing it. This could be by ability grouping, subtly telling the student where they are at compared to the class, this could be a positive or negative experience. Another way is by having either too easy or too challenging of a curriculum. A teacher can encourage motivation by creating a relaxed atmosphere in the class by being relaxed themself. Another way is by personalizing the material to make it interesting to the students. Simply developing a good relationship with the students can do it also. The teacher can make or break the class and the learning that is accomplished.
Motivation is definitely necessary for students to learn. Without it they will gain nothing. There are many factors but the teacher needs to do everything possible to keep the students interested and motivated to learn.
Developed by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Portland, Oregon
The TKT Course, Cambridge University Press, The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK