How To Motivate Middle School Students?


How To Motivate Middle School Students
Strategies that include rewards, having a growth mindset, having students create goals for their assignments and overall learning, as well as strategies that involve communication and providing students and parents with feedback, are just some of the strategies considered to be effective for increasing motivation
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Why is motivation so important in middle school?

High Expectations In accord with the Association for Middle Level Education’s (AMLE) This We Believe tenets (National Middle School Association, 2010), teachers of middle level grades should implement curriculum that is demanding; investigative; available to everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or social class; and significant to the students.

Curriculum is challenging, exploratory, integrative, and relevant.

Student confidence can promote positive attitudes and behaviors that motivate students to tackle challenging learning activities (National Middle School Association, 2003). Drawing on up-to-date information and research studies, particularly, those investigating the effect setting high expectations has on the motivation of middle school students, will be useful and meaningful to middle school teachers and leaders of departments.

  • As teachers gain knowledge of what factors motivate students and how setting high expectations help students stay motivated, they will be better able to create a classroom environment that increases motivation.
  • The Importance of Setting High Expectations In 1990, the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) held a national conference on student motivation.

The touchstone of the conference was that our nation’s success depends on all students rising to meet the challenge of higher standards of achievement in school (U.S. Department of Education, 1992). Subsequently, the U.S. Department of Education (1995) conducted a study of effective school programs and identified several essential characteristics of successful programs.

  1. Among them was setting high expectations for all students.
  2. Thus, it is essential for teachers to set high expectations for all their students and expect students to reach these standards.
  3. Setting high standards and providing opportunities for students to be successful may be the catalyst needed for increasing student motivation.

In fact, setting high expectations may give rise to the Pygmalion Effect, which may change student behavior. The Pygmalion Effect asserts that students who are expected to perform well usually do so, and students of whom teachers have lower expectations will generally not perform as well.

Educational research (Lumsden, 1994, 1999) has also shown that when high expectations and supportive classroom environments are established to achieve these expectations, academic success is evident. Supportive classrooms environments provide students with specific short term goals and challenging, yet achievable tasks.

By setting and communicating high performance expectations in supportive environments, teachers can motivate students to engage in their own learning. According to Lumsden (1999), teachers who maintain high expectations and make relevant connections with a curriculum that is worth learning foster a love for learning.

Motivation Research on student motivation is abundant (e.g., Alexander, Ryan, & Deci, 2000; Cameron, 2001; Cameron & Pierce, 1994; Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 2001a, 2001b; Kohn, 1994; Meece, Anderman & Anderman, 2006; Wigfield, Guthrie, Tonks, & Perencevich, 2004). Many scholars involved in the educational field have defined the term motivation.

Malikow (2007) claimed, “Motivation is more easily defined than understood” (p.118). He continued, “Knowing the definition of motivation and appreciating its complexity are necessary but insufficient for the work of teaching. Teachers also must explore how these concepts apply to their own motivation and that of their students ” (p.119).

  1. In education, theorists (e.g., Ryan & Deci, 2000) reference two different types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.
  2. According to Ryan and Deci (2000) intrinsic motivation refers to doing something because it is inherently interesting or enjoyable, while extrinsic motivation refers to doing something because it leads to an independent outcome.

Intrinsic motivation occurs when people are internally motivated to do something because it either brings them pleasure, they think it is important, or they feel that what they are learning is significant to reach a goal or other desired outcome. Students exhibit intrinsic motivation when they have a desire to learn or participate in an activity purely because they need to know more about something (Wilson, 2011).

Intrinsic motivation involves the learning of a concept for the sake of learning, purely to gain some knowledge. Extrinsic motivation, in contrast, comes into play when a student is compelled to do something or participate in an activity because of some type of tangible reward (e.g., money or good grades).

Students are extrinsically motivated when they undertake a task purely for the sake of attaining a reward or for avoiding punishment (Dev, 1997). Researchers (Deci, Koestner & Ryan, 1999; Kohn, 1994) advocated for efforts that relied on increasing intrinsic motivation and noted that these were more successful in motivating students to learn while extrinsic motivation, such as threats and bribes, undermined student learning.

  1. On the other hand, other researchers (Cameron, 2001; Cameron & Pierce, 1994) supported the belief that extrinsic motivators were not detrimental to student success and if used properly could enhance student desire to learn and succeed.
  2. Some researchers (Cameron & Pierce, 1994; Good & Brophy, 2000; Hidi & Harackiewicz, 2000) reported that students can benefit from both types of motivation and recommend that educators utilize both types to increase student motivation.
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Cameron (2001) called extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation a “hotbed for debate” (p.30). Importance of Motivation A critical component of middle grades students’ success is motivation. It is often in the middle grades when males and females tend to lose interest in mathematics in great part to motivational factors that include a feeling that the subject is hard, and effort versus reward, that is, motivational reward, does not merit the effort (Ryan & Patrick, 2001).

  1. According to Murdock, Anderman, and Hodge (2000), in no other subject is motivation more important than in mathematics.
  2. The integration of motivational strategies, for example, using extrinsic motivation to build or facilitate the development of intrinsic motivation is paramount to increasing students’ motivation.

Because middle school students’ success can leverage continued success across the content areas (Anderman, Patrick, & Ryan, 2004) and into high school and higher education, motivational strategies are critical in middle school. An important reason for cultivating motivation in students is that academic proficiency is necessary for full participation in society (Long, Monoi, Harper, Knoblauch, & Murphy, 2007).

  • Low motivation was among a variety of factors found to contribute to the poor performance of U.S.
  • Students (National Research Council, 2003).
  • This is particularly important for middle school students because during their middle school years many students disengage in school.
  • When students turn away from school, they are less likely to take courses aligned with preparing them for college, and thus their futures can be profoundly affected (Balfanz, 2007; Sowder, 2000).

Research has shown that students who experience academic failure in middle school have a high likelihood of never graduating from high school. Thus, increasing students’ academic motivation during the middle school years is paramount to ensuring they remain on the high school graduation path (Balfanz, 2007; Honig, 1987).

  1. The middle school years are critical for the growth of young adolescents and for the development of their self-esteem and motivation to succeed.
  2. They need unique skills to be prepared to face the everyday pressures encountered in today’s society.
  3. Middle schools play a significant role during these very important years in an adolescent’s life and can have a positive impact on students’ academic growth and personal development.

Student motivation plays an important role in determining what is learned and when learning takes place, thus, being able to motivate and engage learners is of vital importance for any teacher. Students come to school with differing levels of motivation to learn, and not all students will be motivated in the same ways at the same time (Hayenga & Corpus, 2010; Kohn, 1994; Meyer, McClure, Walkey, Weir, & McKenzie, 2009).

Some possess high levels and others have very low levels of motivation. In fact, each student has his or her own innate individual level of motivation. Students also have their own special and particular way of understanding or interpreting their personal motivational drive. Furthermore, students’ individual motivation is rooted deeply and influenced by earlier life experiences—both positive and negative (Clark, 2003; Lumsden, 1994).

Hence, it is imperative that teachers become familiar with what motivates each student and how to enhance the motivational level of their students. However, educating every child has proven to be a challenge for both novice and experienced teachers. Teachers of middle school face an even greater challenge because these students in general are not internally motivated to learn (Anderman & Midgley, 1998).

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Perhaps in the past, students could more easily be motivated to learn but “contemporary society presents remarkably different challenges from those educators faced just a few decades ago” (Caskey et al., 2010, p.1). Therefore, lighting the learning spark becomes more challenging today. This challenge is more evident in today’s classrooms because teachers compete with television, video games, and other technology media, that may offer what Friedman (2006) referred to as “instant gratification” (p.386) that children are exposed to at a very early age.

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act may also present teachers with other challenges. With the implementation of the NCLB Act, teachers must reach all students regardless of their lack of motivation or interest in learning. Anderman and Midgley (1998) asserted that as students transition from elementary to middle school, their motivation to be active participants in the learning process diminishes.

Brewster and Fager (2000) added “the older students get, the less likely they are to take risks and engage themselves fully in activities at which they are not sure they will succeed” (p.6). However, all is not lost; Lumsden (1994) and Dev (1997) concurred that teachers can affect students’ motivation and unmotivated students can become motivated when placed in a positive learning environment that provides engaging and relevant tasks.

Motivational teaching strategies help teachers create this environment for students. According to educational researchers (Huitt, 2001; Stipek, 1988), assortments of teaching strategies are available to teachers. Many of these strategies may increase students’ motivation to engage in classroom learning tasks.

  1. For example, teachers can provide real-world tasks customized to the student interests, provide engaging activities, set high expectations, use rubrics that evaluate students holistically, and engage students as stakeholders in instructional design by providing them with academic choices.
  2. A critical element in any educational setting but particularly important in middle school grades is the search for more effective methods for motivating students.

Middle graders have both psychological and intellectual needs that teachers must help them meet to raise their motivational level. They must “feel connected, effective, and energetic” (Ryan & Deci, 2000, p.65). Additionally, Huetinck and Munshin (2008) noted, “incorporating contexts from students’ personal experiences adds interest to the course of study” (p.51).

  • Middle grade students have needs, as all students do.
  • Thus providing students with challenging learning experiences that make real-world connections is paramount to student involvement in classroom activities.
  • Summary of the Research Teachers face struggles in educating all students including those that come to school uninterested, unmotivated, and expecting to “breeze” through school with minimum effort on their part.

Additionally, motivation is the single most important resource for any student. Hence, educators must realize it is important for student success. Teachers of young adolescents in the middle school must look at the impact that motivation has on their students and must address the issue.

However, just as important as addressing the issue of low motivation found in many students, teachers must look for teaching strategies and pedagogy that increases student motivation and recognize the importance of setting high expectations to help increase it. Motivation is critical and seems particularly important for teachers, especially in order to engage students.

Thus, it is important for teachers to realize the underlying benefits of understanding the theory of motivation and its application (Malikow, 2007) for engaging students. Furrer and Skinner (2003) revealed that how closely students relate to their peers, teachers, and parents, each distinctively add to students’ engagement.

Additionally, it is important that teachers understand they “can and do affect students’ level of engagement in learning” (Brewster & Fager, 2000, p.25) by expecting students to perform at high standards. Setting high expectations is a critical step in motivating students to perform at their highest potential ensuring motivation and success.

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What is the role of a teacher in motivating students?

The Role of Teachers in Motivating Students to Learn – Mata Prasad Singh DOI:10.30954/2231-4105.01.2021.6 Abstract: Many factors motivate students’ to learn. These factors may be intrinsic or extrinsic. The literature on learning and motivation reveals the ways that teachers can increase students’ motivation to learn.

  • While students may have an innate desire to learn, the external support provided by the teacher has a significant impact on students’ learning.
  • The teacher’s role in motivation includes, but is not limited to, creating an environment conducive to learning.
  • The teacher’s role in encouraging support of students’ autonomy, relevance, and relatedness of the material increases motivation to learn.

Additionally, the teacher’s ability to develop students’ competence, interest in subject taught, and perception of self-efficacy are all important factors that influence students’ motivation to learn.

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What is the biggest issue facing middle school students today?

Different classroom and school structure – One of the biggest challenges for middle-schoolers is adjusting to a new learning environment. The school itself may be larger. There’s also a shift in how classes are held. In elementary school, kids may have had one or two teachers for core subjects.

  • In middle school, though, the number of teachers may double.
  • It’s not uncommon for kids to have different teachers for science, math, English, and other subjects.
  • They may also have other teachers for special classes (like art, physical education, and music).
  • Each teacher may have slightly different classroom expectations.

This can be hard to get used to for kids who have trouble following social cues. Teaching your child ways to and to can be helpful. Your child may also have to switch classrooms between classes. Navigating a new school can be tough, especially for middle-schoolers with,

Consider taking a tour of the school ahead of time. Then you can map out the schedule with the most direct routes from class to class. Kids will also have to keep track of time and perhaps even get materials from their locker before the next class. For kids who struggle with, these increasing demands on organization and time management skills can be overwhelming.

You can help by asking your child to create a, If possible, adding items like shelves and section dividers can solve some of the organization problems. You can also plan out locker stops and indicate them on the schedule.
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What causes lack of motivation in students?

Identify possible reasons for the problem you have selected. To find the most effective strategies, select the reason that best describes your situation, keeping in mind there may be multiple relevant reasons. – Students see little value in the course or its content.

  • Students do not believe that their efforts will improve their performance.
  • Students are demotivated by the structure and allocation of rewards.
  • Students do not perceive the classroom climate as supportive.
  • Students have other priorities that compete for their time and attention.
  • Individual students may suffer from physical, mental, or other personal problems that affect motivation.

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