How can schools better motivate students?

  • No single strategy will work to motivate all students. Motivation varies, not only among students but also within the same student depending on the task and context. Motivating students often requires a combination of strategies that address the specific reasons why a student has become disengaged.
  • Strategies to improve motivation should be implemented carefully and thoughtfully. Effective strategies address some or all of the four dimensions of motivation. Effective school-based strategies to bolster motivation are often implemented in concert with changes in curriculum and instruction, faculty and student relationships, or school climate and organization.
  • Improving student motivation cannot be accomplished by schools alone. Efforts to develop motivation should begin early and address social factors that can sap motivation. Partnerships among schools, families, and communities can be effective in creating the conditions that develop and support motivation in children.

CEP acknowledges that not all aspects of motivation are fully understood, and that “most programs or studies that have shown some positive results have been small or geographically concentrated.”

“Because much about motivation is not known, this series of papers should be viewed as a springboard for discussion by policy makers, educators, and parents, rather than a conclusive research review,” said Nancy Kober, CEP consultant and co-author of the report.

Meris Stansbury

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