How can you motivate your students? Meet Lisa Linnenbrink-Garcia (Psychology and Neuroscience and Education), who studies students’ academic motivation (including perceptions of academic competence and reasons for engaging in schooling). Her work focuses on how student motivation relates to academic engagement and achievement and how classroom contexts can promote effective motivation.
What does she do in her course to promote appropriate motivation?
- minimize social comparisons
for example, students do not see the high, low or average grades on assignments
- encourage all students to participate and provide varied ways for students to be actively involved
- create clear grading standards based on students’ understanding, and communicate them to students
- no grading on a curve; rather grades are based on levels of understanding (criterion-referenced)
- attribute student success and failure to effort and strategy use, not to ability
in other words, if a student does not do well on an assignment, help the student to see that he or she can improve on the next assignment by trying different study strategies
- Tasks use varied and open-ended activities/assignments (not easily compared between students)
that are meaningful, with real world connections
- Autonomy/authority provide students with choices on assignments; allow students to select their own topics and work independently in small groups
- Recognition respond to student work, but comment on the comment, not the person
- Grouping use heterogeneous groups
- Evaluation do not grade on a curve; rather, use criterion based grading
- Time allow flexibility in the flow of instruction – students can take the time they need to master the material
Consider how focusing on student motivation could impact your course design and your students’ learning.