What Teachers Can Do About Motivation


(Note: Most of the individual sections of this chapter contain specific guidelines. It is impractical to repeat them all here. Teachers should consult those individual sections for additional specific guidelines.)

  1. Focus as much as possible on intrinsic rather than extrinsic factors to motivate learners. When it is necessary to use extrinsic motivators, try to make them temporary.

  2. Look at motivation from the perspective of the person being motivated, not from your own or from some other perspective.

  3. Take steps to understand the motivational perspectives of learners by communicating with them, by establishing rapport, by understanding their individual and group needs, and by learning about their cultural heritage.

  4. Be aware that learners may be motivated by many goals in addition to the objectives of the instructional unit, and adjust instruction accordingly.

  5. Don't guarantee success. Rather, make it clear that students are likely to succeed if they put forth appropriate effort.

  6. Communicate goals clearly to learners, so that learners themselves can direct their own motivational energies toward attaining these goals.

  7. Set up learning situations with an optimal degree of discrepancy. For example, a learner should already know enough about a topic to see that it would be enjoyable to lean a little more.

  8. Help learners see clear cause-and-effect relationships between their own actions and obtaining desired benefits.

  9. Arrange events so that learners feel that they have freely chosen to perform productive activities - not that they have been coerced into doing so.

  10. Create environments in which learners can vividly fantasize using academic skills in realistic or enjoyable settings.

  11. Use competition in such a way as to help those who succeed at it, while minimizing negative impacts on those who lose.

  12. Use cooperation rather than competition in situations where it would be more productive.

  13. Use recognition to motivate learners by making their successful activities or products visible to others.

  14. Present learning opportunities in an environment that is likely to evoke positive feelings and emotions. Most importantly, avoid conducting learning activities in settings that are likely to evoke negative feelings.

  15. When physiological arousal is too high, take steps to lower it.

  16. When physiological arousal is too low, take steps to increase it.

  17. Help learners satisfy their basic needs, so that they can be motivated by higher needs.

  18. Encourage learners to attribute both their academic successes and failures to effort, which is an internal, unstable factor over which they have control.

  19. Encourage students to be motivated by the urge to master important skills rather than by achieving favorable comparisons with other students.

  20. Encourage students to put forth effort, but define effort properly. Effort refers to the productive use of time. Putting in more hours does not necessarily reflect greater effort. Sometimes students need to learn to make proper effort.

  21. Focus as much as possible on achieving success, as opposed to avoiding failure.

  22. Have realistic, positive expectations for your students.

  23. Be aware of the possibility of negative stereotypes and avoid letting these influence your expectations or the goals you set for students.

  24. Promote self-motivation among learners.


Click on a topic from the following list, or use your web browser to go where you want to go:

Introduction >
Intrinsic Motivation
Interpersonal Motivation
Summary of Intrinsic Motivation
Motivating Through Curriculum
Reinforcement and Punishment
Affective Aspects of Motivation
Physiological Aspects of Motivation
Cognitive Aspects of Motivation
Needs and Motivation
Attribution Theory
Development and Motivation
Motivation as a Personality Characteristic
Teacher Expectancy
Social Aspects of Motivation: Classroom Structure
What Teachers Can Do About Motivation <<You are here>
What Parents Can Do About Motivation
What Students Can Do About Motivation
Chapter Summary
Annotated Bibliography
Answers to Quizzes