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Student Motivation

Key words: Information, Deafness Related Issues, Deaf Education

Topic: How to motivate students to learn

Tasks: The purpose of this project is to inform teachers about different ways to motivate their students. Different resources are shown, as well as several effective instructional strategies.

Resources: The Internet: Ask ERIC URL:

Information: There are many students in our school systems today that are feeling hopeless and helpless because of the fact that they are lacking the skills needed to help them develop self-esteem, motivation and responsibility. Instead of teachers allowing their students to remain this way, it is our job to try our best to understand how these feelings can be changed. Teachers should find out what students know or want to know about certain subject areas. They then need to develop instructional activities that have the student engaging in those activities. Therefore students feel as though the learning is involving and centering around them. They are lacking the necessary responsibility needed to achieve self motivation.

Teachers need to:
-challenge their students to express their creativity in a way that is most comfortable, rewarding, attractive, and non-threatening.
-allow students to accept responsibility for their performance.

By allowing students to express themselves in ways other than words, they are often motivated more than what they even expected! Students need to feel ownership of their grade; this will then motivate them to take the responsibility on to earn their own grade.

Students need to have a desire to belong. By doing so, they then will feel motivated to maintain this level they have reached. Maslow, in his Hierarchy of Needs, pointed out that "belonging was an essential and prerequisite human need that had to be met before one could ever achieve a sense of self worth (Kunc)". It is really important for a student to develop a sense of self-worth and confidence. A child's belonging is not idependent from their sense of personal achievement. As teachers we need to understand that a child with a strong sense of belonging will then proceed to excel. In many schools of today the curricula and structure have been developed with the assumption that students already have their physiological and safety needs met at home. The teachers therefore jump right into the curriculum and do not look to see if those needs have been met.

Our culture is one where uniformity is the criteria for belonging. If you are different from the "norm", you are therefore excluded from that group. School systems tend to make belonging and acceptance the condition to be met in order to achieve. Students who do not fit into this category then feel that they should not even bother trying because they will probably end up failing. Teachers need to create a feeling in their classroom that all students are "typical", and then they will have the self-esteem they need to become motivated to learn and succeed.

Some Strategies to help students become motivated:

1. Provide your students with constant feedback about their work.
Students will be able to see that the practice and effort they are putting into their work is paying off. They will work to get positive feedback from their teacher. Enthusiasm of the teacher is a big factor in the student's attitude as well.

2. Use technology as a tool for motivation.
Technology has a way of making not so fun topics more interesting and entertaining for students to learn. In today's world we are competing with television, video games and MTV to win our children's attention. Students find technology to be new and exciting, and therefore will be more motivated to learn.

3. Read to your students aloud.
By hearing your excitement when you read, students can get excited about reading. They can then, in turn, carry over your reading style into their own reading. They will find that there are books out there that are actually interesting and discover that reading is, in fact, fun!

4. Let students formulate their own comprehension questions after reading a passage or story.
Students will concentrate more on "getting into the literature", rather than reading only to find the "right" answers. By discussing their questions and answers with other students, teachers can observe and assess without saying very much. This creates a student centered environment. The students feel more "in control" of their work and, in turn, are more motivated to succeed.

5. Students respond to their readings in a "response journal".
This journal contains the writer's personal reactions to and reflections on what he or she has read. By doing this the student will reflect on the possible meaning of the work, how it relates to them personally, or to people in general. In other words, the journal can show the writer's reflections on events in their own lives.

6. Create personal meaning to the material you are teaching, and recognize the students goals.
Students are often times unmotivated if they cannot see how what they are learning relates to their own personal lives. By combining the topic you are teaching into what is going on in their lives and what goals they want to be met, the student can relate, and therefore has a motivation to learn the material.

7. Create environments where students can model, learn, and practice appropriate behaviors that will be successful in preparing them for community life.
Students may be book smart, but if they do not first gain the skills they need to make it after they graduate, then their book skills won't get them too far. This is especially important to do for students who have disabilities. They may not know what we already assume they know. By providing students with the desire to have these smarts, and to belong, we provide them with the motivation to learn new skills.

8. Parents and Teachers should play as role models to help motivate their students.
Students will see that we are doing the task as well, so their must be some reason to do it themselves (i.e. reading). This will then motivate them to do so as well.

Reading Motivation Program Information To Use


Book, Battles, and Bees, by Cook, Sybilla, and Page, Cheryl
School Library Media Activities Monthly; v11 p33-34 Feb 1995
Discusses ways to interest students in reading and describes a variety of informal book compositions suitable for elementary and secondary school library media specialists.

Using Drama to Increase Motivation, Comprehension, and Fluency by Bidwell, Sandra M. "Journal of Reading; v34 n1 p38-41 Sep 1990"
Discusses how reading comprehension can be improved, how reading fluency is positively affected, and how reading motivation is increased by using drama in the reading classroom. Presents eight practical ideas for incorporating drama in the classroom.

INternet Resources

Award Winning Library Programs for At-Risk Populations
Announcements, Bulletins, and Press Releases
OERI Bulletin
OERI Bulletin Spring 94/ Summer 94
Award Winning Library Programs for At-Risk Populations

Read*Write*Now! Spread Among Children and Partners
Typr: gopher://
Announcements, Bulletins, and Press Releases
Press Releases
Read*Write*Now! Spread Among Children and Partners

Educational Online Services

Insights: All teachers want to help their students become motivated. The question they want answered is how? Low self-esteem as well as lack of motivation has become a growing problem in the classrooms of today. Maybe there is a link between the two. By working on a students self esteem, or lack of , we may also be able to increase their lack of motivation. We also need to experiment with alternative teaching strategies that not only teach the curriculum, but work on the students self being as well. Students need to feel as though what they are learning is really significant to their personal lives in some way.


Why do some teachers have the attitude that if the child does not want to learn, that is the child's problem, and not theirs? Shouldn't we as teachers take on the responsibility to change their attitude and help them become motivated?

Now that I have gathered all of this information, how can I, as a future teacher, use it in my classroom? Is there a way to start the learning process in a different way so that this lack of motivation to learn does not occur?


Drekurs, R., Grunwald, B.B., Pepper, F. (1982). Maintaining Sanity in the Classroom. New York: Harper and Row.

Kunc, N. (1992). The Need to Belong: Rediscovering Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Canada: Paul H. Brooks Publishers.

Uploaded by: Melissa Close/Kent State University/ Deaf Education Major