When students feel motivated, everything is better–grades, class engagement, standardized test scores, and determination. That’s why improving student motivation is at the top of many administrators’ to-do lists.
If motivation is a person’s willingness to do something or behave in a specific way, improving student motivation is key to improving achievement: students who are motivated to learn are more likely to achieve than students who are not motivated, according to Finding the Formula: Understanding How Schools Can Improve Student Motivation.
The report, from America Achieves, argues that student motivation is central to each person’s learning experience, but improving student motivation is often overlooked in school reform issues because it is often considered a trait students either do or don’t have.
What role, then, do schools and educators have in improving student motivation? It all comes down to a framework of rigor, relevance, and relationships.
Here’s how four schools, profiled in the report, are improving student motivation through the framework.
1. The Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology (GSMST) in Atlanta serves a primarily minority student population with about 30 percent economically disadvantaged. GSMST, which is an American Achieves Global Learning Network school, was top-ranked in 2018 and has a 100 percent AP participation rate, along with dramatically outperforming its fellow district schools on math and reading proficiency. The school doesn’t just aim for college readiness–students graduate ready to tackle upper-level college courses, grad school, and then become industry leaders or enroll in doctoral programs. Those expectations come through in the school’s practices and graduation requirements. The school also gives students choice to pursue pathways that most closely resemble their personal and career interests and goals. Students also build relationships with internship mentors.