Why is motivation important in the science classroom?
Motivation is important in any setting! We all want to learn and grow to be better people and better students right? Or do we just want the grades and the diploma, the promotion, the recognition?
This is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation!
Extrinsic motivation comes from an external motivator- a trophy, the grades, the diploma at the end of school. Intrinsic motivation is the internal drive to do better, to be better at a skill and gain personal rewards. Are your students in it for the learning, the discovery, and gaining a new skill? Or are they simply going through the motions to get the A and move on in their education?
When students are intrinsically motivated in the classroom, they are more engaged and excited to learn! It becomes exciting and fun, rather than work they do not want to do.
What do students need in order to become intrinsically motivated?
According to Daniel Pink, there are three components of intrinsic motivation:
Without these, students will be less likely to participate in the class, and therefore less likely to excel and gain from the course.
For students to master a skill, they need to be given room to try and try again, and to learn from their mistakes. There are a few things you can do to encourage mastery and increase it in the classroom:
- Set clear objectives – give students goals that they are expected to achieve. When the goals and objectives are clear, demonstrable, and specific, students know what is expected of them. Based on their goals, students are also able to assess their own progress and see what they have left to do to master the skill.
- Leave room for error – Mastery does not always mean perfection! Mastery is a goal that students are aiming for, a goal to understand and demonstrate the majority of what they are learning. Setting the expectation that the goal is growth rather than perfection can help take a lot of pressure off students as well!
- Give feedback – When students are demonstrating what they know, give them constructive criticism embedded in positive feedback. This tells them what errors they are making, and gives them an opportunity to make corrections and move closer to mastering the skill.
Autonomy is so important in the classroom. Students who lead their own learning are more interested and engaged in the material. There are a few ways to do this!
- Ask for student feedback to show them that they do play a role in the classroom and that their voices matter!
- Incorporate student interests into the lessons and activities.
- Give students a choice on how the material is learned. Some students may prefer to explore a certain topic in depth on their own rather than in class with a group!
Purpose is the reason students engage. It is the “why” behind what they are doing in the classroom! Students will often ask why they are learning what is being taught in the classroom, and too often the answer is that the material is on the test. How does this material apply to the world around them? How might the material influence their future career? How about their daily life? Giving students a reason behind their work shows them that the work that they are doing is not meaningless!
Check out the above TED talk given by Behrouz Moemeni. He talks more about intrinsic motivation in our daily lives, and in the classroom!
Are you intrinsically motivated? What about your students? Let me know in the comments!
That’s all for now! See you next time 🙂