|How Children Learn (IAE - IBE - UNESCO, 32 p.)|
Learning is critically influenced by learner motivation. Teachers can help students become more motivated learners by their behaviour and the statements they make.
Motivated learners are easy to recognize because they have a passion for achieving their goals and are ready to expend a great deal of effort. They also show considerable determination and persistence. This influences the amount and quality of what is learned. All teachers want to have motivated learners in their classrooms. How can they achieve this?
Psychologists distinguish between two kinds of motivation: extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation results when positive rewards are used to increase the frequency of a target behaviour. Praise, high grades, awards, money and food can be used for that effect. Intrinsic motivation is when learners actively participate in activities without having to be rewarded for it. The child who likes to put together puzzles for the fun of it is intrinsically motivated.
An important characteristic of intrinsically motivated learners is their belief that effort is important for success. Teachers can influence students' determination to achieve by their behaviour and the statements they make.
In the classroom
Teachers must use encouraging statements that reflect an honest evaluation of learner performance:
· Recognize student accomplishments.
· Attribute student achievement to internal and not external factors (e.g. 'You have good ideas').
· Help students believe in themselves (e.g. 'You are putting a lot of effort on math and your grades have much improved').
· Provide feedback to children about the strategies they use and instruction as to how to improve them.
· Help learners set realistic goals.
It is also important to:
· Refrain from grouping students according to their ability. Ability grouping gives the message that ability is valued more than effort.
· Promote co-operation rather than competition. Research suggests that competitive arrangements that encourage students to work alone to achieve high grades and rewards tend to give the message that what is valued is ability and diminish intrinsic motivation.
· Provide novel and interesting tasks that challenge learners' curiosity and higher-order thinking skills at the appropriate level of difficulty.
References: Deci & Ryan, 1985; Dweck, 1989; Lepper & Hodell, 1989; Spaulding, 1992.