We have already given some general advice for educators on how to motivate a student. The truth is that from the excellent book Tools for Teaching by Barbara Gross Davis (Jossey-Bass Publishers: San Francisco, 1993), you can get a thousand ideas to motivate students.
We recommend reading Motivating students, an online chapter (in English from her book De Ella Tools for Teaching). It occurred to us to contrast some of the ideas contained in that chapter with a group of students and from this experience came the idea of arriving at 101 ways to motivate students. At the moment we already have the first 27 based on the aforementioned source. Comments at the end of this entry are very welcome.
Ways to Motivate Students
Meet the needs and motives of students. Students learn best when they have incentives to satisfy their own motives for learning. In this sense, it can be useful for the teacher to try to identify the needs of the students, both those of which they are aware and those of which they are not… Imagine that before teaching a course in mathematics, physics, music, etc. the teacher will spend some time relating the value of this learning by connecting it with the needs and desires of the students; the incentive to learn would be much greater.
Make Students Active Participants in Learning
Students can learn by doing, building, writing, designing, creating, solving… Passivity harms students’ motivation and curiosity. Ask questions… Encourage students to suggest approximations to a problem or to guess the results of an experiment…
Ask Students to Analyze What Makes a Class More or Less
It would be something like taking advantage of “the strong and weak points” of the subject and the teacher so that he can introduce changes and take advantage of all his potential. Students can answer things like: “the enthusiasm of the teacher, the relevance and level of difficulty of the material, the organization of the course, the degree of active participation of the students, the variety, the relationship between teacher and students, the appropriate use, concrete and intelligible from the examples and dozens of other things…”
Maintain High but Realistic Expectations of your Students
It appears from some research that teacher expectations have a powerful effect on student behavior. It is about the teacher maintaining realistic expectations when developing their work, making presentations, leading discussions, and taking exams; and at the same time giving students opportunities to succeed. That combination can work as long as, according to the students, there is a realistic balance.
Help Students Set Their Own Goals
Help students to evaluate their progress, encourage or criticize their work, analyze their efforts, their weaknesses… Perhaps the most important thing in this topic is to encourage students to focus on a process to continuously improve, not just on a grade or an exam.
Communicate to the students the demands of the subject to pass it. It is positive to clearly establish what is required of students in order to pass the subject. Even be very careful with the language. For example, instead of saying ” you are very behind ” you should say to the students: “this is the way to keep up… can I help you?”.
Strengthen Students’ Self-Motivation
Messages such as “I demand”, “you must”, and “you should” should be avoided and replaced with “I think you will find..” “I would be interested in knowing your answer”. The need to achieve self-motivation and self-esteem in students must always be very present in the teacher’s mind.
Avoid Creating Competition Among Students
Competition produces anxiety, which negatively interferes with learning. It is positive to reduce the tendency of students to compare themselves with other students.
Be Enthusiastic About Your Subject
The teacher’s enthusiasm for his subject is crucial for the motivation of the students. If a teacher becomes bored or apathetic with his subject, the students will too. The best enthusiasm of the teacher is the one that derives from his confidence, his identification with the contents, and a genuine pleasure in teaching.
Instilling enough enthusiasm into students may even result in students opting to use an essay writer for other subjects and focus on yours specifically.
Work on the Strengths and Interests of Students
Explain how the course content will help students’ educational, career, or personal goals. Start from the real interests of these that are linked to learning.
Where Possible, Give Students Some Choice About What They Are Studying
In terms of work, materials… alternative units… not about exams, but in everything that reinforces their co-responsibility.
Gradually Increase the Difficulty of the Subject Material
It is interesting to give students opportunities to be successful at the beginning of the first term of the course or semester. Once they have succeeded, it is easier to increase the difficulty or level progressively.
Lastly, Vary Teaching Methods
The variety helps to arouse the participation and motivation of the students in the subject. Routine can be broken in many ways: role reversals, debates, brainstorms, discussions, demonstrations, case studies, audiovisual presentations, external guests, small group work…