The Center on Education Policy at George Washington University has released a series of papers examining the role of student motivation in current reform efforts. The summary paper, Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform, pulls together the research from six background papers, each addressing different aspect of student motivation.
Each report in the collection contains case studies of current programs and policies and implications for the future. The reports include:
- What is motivation and why does it matter?
- Can money or other rewards motivate students?
- Can goals motivate students?
- What roles do parent involvement, family background, and culture play in student motivation?
- What can schools do to motivate students?
- What nontraditional approaches can motivate unenthusiastic students?
- Appendix: Theories of motivation
While there is no single strategy that works to motivate all students, or even the same student in all contexts, the many different sources reviewed by CEP suggest various approaches that can help improve student motivation, the report finds. Some of the strategies suggested include:
- Programs that reward academic accomplishments are most effective when they reward students for mastering certain skills or increasing their understanding rather than rewarding them for reaching a performance target or outperforming others.
- Tests are more motivating when students have an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge through low-stakes tests, performance tasks, or frequent assessments that gradually increase in difficulty before they take a high-stakes test.
- Professional development can help teachers encourage student motivation by sharing ideas for increasing student autonomy, emphasizing mastery over performance, and creating classroom environments where students can take risks without fear of failure.
- Parents can foster their children’s motivation by emphasizing effort over ability and praising children when they’ve mastered new skills or knowledge instead of praising their innate intelligence.
To read this series, please visit http://www.cep-dc.org/displayDocument.cfm?DocumentID=405