Thursday, May 19, 2011

4 ways 2 motivate: keeping it real with students

Earlier today I asked three questions on twitter:

1. What steps can you take to help a student who is negative because of the effects of his/her procrastination? #edchat
2. Do students feel comfortable bringing their problems to you? #edchat
3. How do you introduce a positive element into the assignments you give students? #edchat

If we want positive upbeat students, we need to be the same. We may believe that such a climate is impossible to achieve. But it begins with recognizing, valuing, and rewarding upbeat student behaviours and attitudes. The choice is ours.

Use upbeat positive language
Creating and maintaining a positive class environment depends on the language we use. The power of words has a huge impact on student work as it does on student performance. Telling a student they “should” have studied for the test rather than “could” have studied for the test has an effect on student performance. The word “should” is quite judgemental while the word “could” allows for gentle suggestion, correction, or criticism.

Capitalize on students' needs
Students learn best when motivations for learning in a classroom satisfy their own goals. Some of the needs your students may bring to the classroom are the need to learn something in order to complete a particular task or activity, the need to seek new experiences, the need to perfect skills, the need to overcome challenges, the need to become competent, the need to succeed and do well, the need to feel involved and to interact with other people. Satisfying such needs is rewarding in itself, and such rewards sustain learning more effectively than do grades. Design assignments, in-class activities, and discussion questions to address these kinds of needs. (Source: McMillan and Forsyth, 1991)

Engage students in the learning.
Students learn by doing, making, writing, designing, creating, solving. Watching a movie, listening to a lecture, completing worksheets, reduces students' motivation and curiosity. Pose questions. Avoid telling students something when you can ask them.Encourage students to ask questions, suggest approaches to a problem or to guess the results which are meaningful to them. Use small group work.

What makes my class "motivating?"
Ask students to recall two recent class periods, one in which they were highly motivated and one in which their motivation was low. Each student makes a list of specific aspects of the two classes that influenced his or her level of motivation, and students then meet in small groups to reach consensus on characteristics that contribute to high and low motivation. What characteristics emerge as major contributors to student motivation?

• Instructor's enthusiasm
• Relevance of the material
• Organization of the course
• Appropriate difficulty level of the material
• Active involvement of students
• Variety
• Rapport between teacher and students
• Use of appropriate, concrete, and understandable examples

Motivation is not about using the latest gimmicks or incentives. All you have to do is love your subject, be upbeat, watch negative language, engage students in learning, and ask them what kind of classes they like. In the end, keep it real.

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