The Facts About Motivating Students
Julia G. Thompson
Answer the following True/False Questions. The answers and explanations are below each question.
1. It’s never too late to attempt to motivate even the most reluctant learners.
1. True: Experienced teachers know that it is certainly possible to make a difference in even the most jaded and uninvolved students. Perhaps this is why so many of us continue to believe in the importance of our chosen profession and the endless possibilities as well as responsibilities that go with being a teacher.
2. Students should have plenty of options, even on tests.
2. False: While plenty of options are important and useful motivational tools, allowing students too many options on a test can skew the reliability and validity of that evaluation instrument. Offering options and showing students how to make wise choices before an assessment is a wiser choice than allowing them too many choices during a testing situation. Some researchers suggest that allowing students to choose among a bank of questions will skew the results.
3. Grades serve as an important motivational tool for most students.
3. False: Grades do not always motivate even the strongest and most capable students. Instead, an approach that incorporates grades as a fair measure of progress along with several other motivational techniques will reach more students than grades alone.
4. Using a classroom economy of tokens has proved to be a successful motivational tool for many educators.
4. True, but…: While a token reward system often is an effective short-term way to encourage students, the problem with these rewards is that students often focus more on them rather than on the importance of learning and achieving. A reward system that incorporates both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards is a more balanced, long-term, and effective approach to motivation than a system that is dependent on tokens alone.
5. Assignments that involve competition are more effective motivators for male students than assignments that require cooperation or collaboration.
5. False: Male and female students of all ages can be motivated to perform well when working with others in a non-competitive way. While competition can serve as an effective motivator, it’s effect is not limited only to males. In reality, the best form of classroom competition occurs when students try to beat their own past successes.
6. It is better to say, “How can I help you?” instead of “You should…” when attempting to motivate students.
6. True: Students respond to offers of help far better than to lectures or unsolicited advice. When a teacher asks how he or she can help, it not only forces the student to diagnose the problem, but it also sets a pleasant, cooperative, and friendly tone for the relationship between student and teacher.
7. Using class time to read or do homework is an effective way to motivate students.
7. True: Allowing students to read independently or to work on homework in class with a nearby teacher who can offer assistance when necessary can be effective for many reasons. Having a helpful adult nearby when reading or working on homework makes it easier for students to ask questions, discuss an issue, or ask for help with a problem. When teachers are “on” all the time, they miss seeing the way that their students work. Often, just watch how students tackle an assignment, can offer clues about how we can help them succeed.
8. When students ask for answers to problems or questions during independent practice work, it is okay to give them the correct response.
8. False: Almost every teacher has heard students begging for “just this one answer…pleeeease.” If students know that they can convince a soft-hearted teacher to tell them an answer, they won’t even try to think it though on their own. Instead of giving answers, ask questions of your own until students can figure out the problem themselves.
9. Dealing with student anxiety about how to correctly complete their assignments is an important consideration when attempting to successfully motivate students.
9. True: Students who know how to do their work and the steps that they have to take in order to do it well are more likely to succeed than those students who are not sure about what they are supposed to do and how to do it. Master the art of giving good verbal and written directions and reap the rewards of an anxiety-free class.
10. Negative comments from a teacher can often influence motivation in a positive way.
10. False: Negative comments lead to negative reactions and hurt feelings. Constructive criticism leads to improved performance.
Continue reading for the next questions/answers.