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Arkansas State University

How to Motivate Gifted Students

As you pursue a Master of Science in Education degree (MSE) you may consider doing so with a major in Gifted, Talented and Creative (GTC). Teaching gifted students is about inspiring a motivation to learn. Many students possessing gifted and talented qualities are stuck in regular-setting classrooms as the majority of public schools do not have the proper funding or availability of trained teachers to support the programs needed for this population of students. The role of an educator in the teaching of gifted children is to inspire them to keep asking questions and to motivate them in the belief that their education and schoolwork is valuable even if the student finds the subject matter boring.

When teaching gifted students it is important to teach them to self-regulate and to nurture positive study strategies. In general, gifted students tend to have three qualities: 1) they finish work quickly; 2) they ask more abstract questions; and 3) they have interests more typical of older or more advanced students. When working as a gifted and talented teacher, you must be able to balance the need for gifted students to answer abstract questions without confusing the less-gifted students.

Motivation Techniques

Many gifted students will lose motivation when a subject does not interest them or they feel their education is not worth the effort, as they receive no reward of any substantial significance. It is the job of the educator to motivate gifted students. There are two methods of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is created by making an activity or subject seem or appear enjoyable to the student, whereas extrinsic motivation is created through an outside reward.

A teacher may have to plan carefully when coming up with ways to motivate students intrinsically. One key in intrinsic motivation is to avoid using the word “difficult” when describing an activity or assignment as this may discourage students from participating.

Here are a few intrinsic motivation techniques:

  • Determine natural interests
  • Find alternative means of highlighting the students’ knowledge.
  • When possible, offer immediate feedback on the students’ progress.

Ways to motivate students extrinsically may involve bringing in outside sources and/or help. Extrinsic motivation is dependent upon the ability of the teacher to inspire future and academic goals.

Extrinsic motivation techniques include:

  • Explaining the purpose of an activity or lesson.
  • Setting short- and long-term goals.
  • Inviting outside community members to speak with the students.

Teaching gifted students can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. If you should choose to pursue an MSE in GTC, be prepared to motivate students on both an intrinsic and extrinsic level. Gifted students often show signs of their abilities by completing work quickly and asking abstract questions. Intrinsic motivation is teaching a student to enjoy the subject at hand whereas extrinsic motivation is teaching a student to work towards academic success in order to reach future goals.

Learn more about the Arkansas State online MSE in Gifted, Talented, and Creative degree program.

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