A recurrent struggle for teachers is how to deal with students who lack motivation. All classes seem to have at least one student who seems unreachable, no matter what we try, and even the best students have days when they are not motivated for classroom learning. Although most teachers would blame technology for students’ distraction and lack of interest, studies on this subject tell us otherwise.

In fact, it seems that what motivates students mostly is having positive relationships with their teachers, feeling they can have some choice in what they learn, and feeling they can improve. Let us explore more in detail these points:

Positive relationship with teachers. As teachers, do we make our students feel we care about them? Research has found out that just chatting casually to underperforming students can make the difference.

Having some choice in learning is a major factor in motivation, as students feel more engaged and responsible for their own learning. Teachers could let students have some freedom in their learning, let students have choices in what they do, and how they do it, for example by choosing whether they prefer to work in groups or on their own. A sense of autonomy is a major factor in intrinsic motivation.

Feeling they can improve. Students are motivated if they believe they can get better at something. Teachers can offer students effective and objective feedback on their performance, which gives them opportunities for improvement.



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