Students are more likely to be intrinsically motivated to learn if they value what they are asked to do. Look at 5 building blocks for your instruction.
Students are more likely to be intrinsically motivated to learn if they value what they are asked to do. There are five building blocks to add value to your classroom:
- Locus of Control
Students are more likely to be motivated when they are not asked to do the same thing over and over again. What is your least favorite routine task? If that is the only thing I did, I would be miserable. That, however, is exactly how our students feel about some classes. Although there are some tasks that are not fun,when students view learning as drudgery, they are less likely to be motivated to work.
Variety is enhanced when you make a lesson attractive.
Attractiveness means integrating elements of curiosity and novelty into your lessons.
Charlene Haviland, a teacher in Norfolk, Virginia, has developed lessons that incorporate this concept. She uses the Harry Potter books to teach science concepts. “For a discussion on the flying broomsticks used in the game of Quidditch, Haviland said, ‘We can even go into Bernoulli’s principle and explore how we can take that from flying on a broom to … how airplanes work … and why some fly better than others.’” I don’t know about you, but I’d sign up for that class quicker than I would a class on aerodynamics.
Locus of Control
The third building block, locus of control, refers to a student’s need to feel as though he or she has some control, or choice in a given situation. If Kinu feels trapped and like someone else is telling her what to do, she is less likely to be motivated. Students are more apt to be intrinsically motivated if they have ownership in the learning—if they have believe they are a part of the learning experience, rather than simply being told what to do.
Students also need to see the utility in learning. When I do workshops with teachers, I know they come into my session with one burning question: “How can I use this information immediately?” Adult learners are juggling so many demands, they prioritize activities and their attention based on how well something meets their immediate needs.
Students are similar, except they don’t have the choice to leave. So often, we forget to show students why they need to know what we are teaching. I was observing a student teacher when “Jason” asked, “Why do we need to learn this?” It clearly flustered her and she snapped back, “Because I said so.” You can imagine the look on Jason’s face. Students are more engaged in learning when they see a useful connection to themselves.
The final block for building value is enjoyment. Students are more motivated when they find pleasure in what they are doing. During my first year of teaching, another teacher told me two things: Don’t smile before Christmas and if your kids are enjoying the lesson, you’re doing something wrong. Now I realize how unhappy she must have been. Although you need to have a classroom with structure and order, it is fine, and essential to smile and have fun.
A Final Note
Integrating these five building blocks into your instruction will help your students–and you–find the value in learning!