Readers: Five ways to motivate students

“Students need to know that someone truly cares about them when they are in a classroom,” said one reader.

We recently highlighted a report from the Center on Education Policy that looked at how schools can motivate students. Now, here are some of the best ideas from our readers.

We asked readers: “What are some ways/tactics/activities you implement to motivate students?” Their advice ranged from “be there for your students and let them know you care about them,” to “entice them with technology they use with their friends.”

Here are five of the best responses (some comments have been edited for brevity). What do you think of these ideas? Do you have any stories of your own for how to motivate and engage today’s 21st-century learners? Be sure to leave them in the comments section!

1. Give them access to Web 2.0 tools.

“Like many school librarians and classroom teachers, I capitalize on 21st-century students’ internal motivation to be producers of ideas and information who create for authentic audiences (especially their friends!). [Here] are three ways educators can stimulate these components of student motivation: (1) Integrating Web 2.0 tools into the learning process through mind-mapping or storyboarding; (2) Viewing, deconstructing, and evaluating electronic media in preparation for creating students’ own media; (3) Producing software- or Web 2.0 tools-facilitated final products to demonstrate learning.

“When school librarians and classroom teachers co-plan and co-teach these technology-infused lessons, individual students and small groups get more support for developing their creativity, communicating their knowledge, and presenting their understandings in the electronic world—the world that matters most to students themselves.” —Judi Moreillon, M.L.S., Ph.D., assistant professor, School of Library and Information Studies, Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas

2. Put them in charge of their own learning.

“Hands down, the best environment to stimulate intrinsic motivation is PBL (problem-based learning)—a student-centered pedagogy in which students learn about a subject in the context of complex, multifaceted, and realistic problems (not to be confused with project-based learning)!

“Dan Pink, in his book, Drive, identifies three elements of environments that will stimulate intrinsic motivation (extrinsic motivation, or carrots [and] sticks, don’t work): autonomy, mastery, and purpose. For PBL, autonomy comes through student control of the projects, mastery is encouraged through the need … to address the project, and purpose comes from the choice of real-world project areas interesting to students—especially with student choice of specifics.” —John Bennett, emeritus professor/associate dean, University of Connecticut, Coventry, Conn.

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