Skip to main content

Arkansas State University

Understanding Student Motivation

The difference between teaching children who are motivated to learn and teaching children who are not is the difference between educating students who will grow and simply monitoring those who will only study to pass a test. Student motivation is not something teachers can force on children; rather, it is something they can activate. Author and speaker Sir Ken Robinson once said, “Farmers and gardeners know you cannot make a plant grow… the plant grows itself. What you can do is provide the conditions for growth.”

Creating an Environment to Foster Student Motivation

When considering the classroom environment, teachers should pay special attention to four aspects that increase intrinsic motivation:

  • Independence.
  • Success.
  • Relationships.
  • Interest.

Students need to be able to function in the classroom independently. They should not have to ask too many questions about where things are and how to hand in assignments. Further, students need to experience success in short bursts; they need to understand how to accomplish assignments and receive feedback quickly. Students need to build relationships with teachers and other students so that they can feel connected to a community, and finally, students need to connect with their lessons. Teachers can learn more about how to create this kind of environment by pursuing an online master’s degree in education.

Allowing Voice and Choice in the Classroom

Many children start out motivated in the classroom, but some teacher reactions can stop their motivation short. If, for example, a child brings a book to his teacher because he is excited to have found a book he likes, only to hear his teacher tell him the book is too difficult and that he may not borrow it, the teacher has damaged student motivation. Rules regarding reading and writing material require careful management. When children want something badly enough they will push themselves to get it, or they will find ways of getting help. Allowing them to express their voices through choice is an effective way to motivate students.

Demonstrating Self-Motivation Strategies

A great teacher learns how to effectively support students, but students eventually move on, and they must understand how to motivate and regulate themselves. Teaching children self-motivation strategies is good learning for the long haul. Strategies that work well include setting goals, following timelines, reaching out to others for support and identifying a mentor who can help when motivation is low. Teachers who pursue an online master’s degree in education can learn these and many other techniques for student motivation, which they can test out in their own classrooms as they learn.

Beyond Extrinsic Motivation

There are many ways to extrinsically motivate students, and some may be necessary for getting through a tough time or trying to instill a habit, but students who are intrinsically motivated will be more successful at self-regulation and motivation. Student motivation should be a part of each lesson in the classroom. Students should learn how to find a personal connection to each lesson so that they can stay invested in learning.

Learn more about A-State’s Online Master of Science in Education in Curriculum & Instruction.


Edutopia: Creating the Conditions for Student Motivation

Education Week: Don’t Crush Reading Motivation

Related Articles

Request Information

Submit the form below, and an Enrollment Specialist will contact you to answer your questions.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Or call 866-621-8096

Ready to go?

Start your application today!
Or call 866-621-8096 866-621-8096
for help with any questions you have.
  • Choose All That Apply