Motivating Middle School Students CAN it be done? YES!!!!!!!!!!
Break-out Questions: Working with the teachers at your table, discuss your answers to these questions. • What do you believe to be the most important things in the lives of the middle school students that you teach? • What have you observed as being motivational to middle school students?
What’s important? Friends Lunch Socializing Sports How they look in front of their peers Extracurricular activities What motivates? Fun activities Competition Being with friends If the subject is interesting If the topic is relevant Getting good grades Discussion: Did you group come up with answers like these?
Humans are a unique creation. Each student has a mind that can think, learn, reason, and solve problems. • Cognitive theory, currently the primary perspective used to describe and explain human learning, recognizes the importance of the processes used by the brain to learn.
Assumptions of Cognitive Theory • Some learning processes are unique to humans. • Individuals are actively involved in the learning process by controlling their learning. • Learning involves an internal, mental change. • Knowledge is organized by association and interconnectedness. • New knowledge is related to previously learned information. • Inferences about mental processes can be drawn by observing student behavior.
Implications of Cognitive Theory • Learning is a function of how information is processed. • Therefore, we as educators should be concerned with students’ cognitive processes. We need to be aware not only of what students are learning, but how students are learning. • Piaget and Vygotsky determined that kids develop more complex reasoning processes over time. • Therefore, when planning units of study and methods of instruction, we must consider the students’ current cognitive level of functioning.
Implications of Cognitive Theory, continued • As people learn, they mentally organize new information. • Therefore, it is important to present material in an organized fashion. • Learning is more likely to occur when people associate new material with previously learned material. • Therefore, we must help students relate new information to old information. • Students control their own learning by being mentally involved in the classroom. • Therefore, we need to monitor students to ensure they are paying attention, thinking, and processing.
Why do you… • work out? • go shopping? • get involved in a book study? • read a novel? • watch a movie? • cook dinner for your family? • modify your lesson plans?
What motivates people to engage in an activity? • People engage in activities because they are enjoyable and/or rewarding. • People might engage in an activity because it results in something rewarding. *think of something you do—what do YOU GET OUT OF IT??? • How many things do you do that aren’t fun or that aren’t beneficial? WHY??
Definition of Motivation • Motivation is an internal state that • arouses us to action • pushes us in particular directions • keeps us engaged in certain activities • Motivation determines to what extent a student will actually learn.
Importance of Motivation • Students will always be motivated by something. • It is our responsibility to determine WHAT motivates students.
Discussion Question: If a student walks into your classroom motivated to learn, what behaviors does that child exhibit?
If a student is motivated to learn, he will… • engage in an activity with greater energy and activity. • set goals for himself. • increase time on task by initiating work and by persisting despite difficulty and interruptions. • be cognitively engaged, i.e. actually thinking about what’s being taught.
Extrinsic motivation occurs when the source for motivation comes from outside the person and task. ( desire for rewards, fear of punishment, need for positive recognition, etc) Intrinsic motivation occurs when the source of motivation comes from within the individual and task. The individual sees the task as enjoyable and worthwhile. Group work: With the people sitting at your table, make a list of both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation that occurs in school. Extrinsic & Intrinsic Motivation
Intrinsic motivation is more beneficial than extrinsic motivation to promote learning. Students who are intrinsically motivated are more likely to: • Begin a task on their own • Pay attention • Learn material in a meaningful way • Show creativity • Be persistent despite failures • Enjoy the activity • Evaluate their own progress • Achieve at high levels
The bad news for middle school teachers… Although most students start school with a high level of intrinsic motivation to learn, they tend to lose this motivation as they get older.
So how can we promote intrinsic motivation? • Relate units of study to the students’ lives. • “How are the effects of the tsunami in December similar to the destruction caused by Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D.?” • “How would you have reacted if your mother embarrassed you in front of your peers like this character did?” • Talk about intrinsic motives. • “You must be proud of yourself for getting a B on that quiz.” • “I’m glad you enjoy doing this simulation.” • “It’s important you understand how to reduce fractions. You use this when you…..” • Pursue and discuss your own individual interests. • “I really enjoying watching the Mavericks; it makes me want to get there and play basketball!” **talk with your table—what ARE they interested in???
Group Work with your department • Working with your department, come up with a list of ways to promote intrinsic motivation among your students. Make your methods specific to your subject matter. • Again, the 3 ways to encourage this are: • Relate subject to students’ lives • Talk about intrinsic motives • Pursue and discuss your own interests
Group Workwith your team • Now that you have come up with some ways to encourage intrinsic motivation within your subject matter, you are going to be working with your team. • Make a list of ways to intrinsically encourage students to excel. Since everyone on your team teaches the same students, you may want to think of specific methods for individual students who might need more encouragement than others.
Discussion: • What do you feel is the most important need for middle school students?
Theorists have studied several humans needs which have implications for the classroom: • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs • Need for Competence and Self-worth • Need for Relatedness • Need for Affiliation • Need for Approval • Need for Achievement
1. Implications for Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs • Safety: Students need to be aware of classroom expectations and to have routines established. • Love and belongingness: Students need to feel as though they are part of a group. This can be manifested by a M.S. student conforming their dress, speech, and actions to be like other students. • Esteem: In order to be respected, a M.S. student may act in ways that will bolster his image in front of peers. Conversely, some students exhibit low self-esteem.
2. Need for Competence and Self-worth • Robert White (1959) suggested that humans have a basic need for competence, “a belief that they can deal effectively with their environment.” (Ormrod,2004) • Martin Covington (1992) suggested that self-worth (defending one’s competency) is a primary need for humans. This can be done by • Consistently succeeding • Avoiding failure • Setting low expectations • Refusing to participate in an activity or to complete an assignment • Making excuses • Cheating • Procrastinating We see these behaviors on a daily basis, don’t we?
Allow students to take restroom breaks. Allow students to drink water in the classroom. Refer sick or troubled students to the nurse or counselor. Change classroom activities frequently. Encourage students to ask questions. Acknowledge students’ achievements. Have an orderly classroom. Have students follow procedures for daily tasks. Be consistent in dealing with students. Clearly define expectations. Addressing the needs described by Maslow & the need for competence & self-worth
Group Activity • Brainstorm with the people at your table. Can you come up with 10 ways to meet students’ basic needs, as well as their needs for competence and self-worth? Be as specific as possible.
3. Need for Relatedness • Middle school students want to be connected socially to others. They feel this leads to love and respect. It might be manifested in the following ways: • Prioritizing socializing over working on school • Trying to look popular, smart, foolish, athletic, etc. • Showing concern and helping others
4. Need for Affiliation • Need for affiliation describes students who desire friendly relationships. Some students have a high need for affiliation, whereas others have a low need. • Students with a high need for affiliation might: • Be nervous when watched by others • Communicate frequently • Be affected by peer pressure • Be more interested in relationships than tasks • Earn lower grades than their peers • Thrive in a classroom with a nurturing teacher
5. Need for Approval • Some students have a strong desire to look good in front of others. • How this might be observed: • Seeking teacher recognition/approval • Seeking peer recognition/approval Which of these 2 do we see more in the middle school? Note: Students with a high need for approval tend to be less popular than their peers.
6. Need for Achievement • Some students have an intrinsic desire to achieve excellence. These students might be persistent, be realistic about tasks, and set high standards. • Can you think of a student this describes? • Covington and Omelich (1991) have proposed that learners can be divided into four groups: • Over-strivers • Optimists • Failure avoiders • Failure accepters Can you think of a student who could fit into each of these categories? *The need for achievement might be influenced more by specific tasks and subjects rather than true for all areas.
Foster healthy teacher-student relationships Take a student to lunch. Get involved in the mentoring program. Attend extra-curricular events. Show interest in their lives. Ask about a student’s day – and then listen. Give students birthday cards. Give small gifts to the class. Acknowledge them Encourage students. Allow students to communicate with their peers. Discussion with a partner Cooperative learning Skits Peer-evaluation Inform students what material will be evaluated on a test; i.e. tell them specifically what to learn. Challenge students. Q: Which of these do we already do successfully? Addressing the needs for relatedness, affiliation, approval, and achievement
Group Activity • Brainstorm with the people at your table. List ways you could meet students’ needs for relatedness, affiliation, approval, and achievement. Be as specific as possible.
Homework Assignment • Individually, make a list of 5 ways you think you could help to ensure your students’ needs are being addressed. • Set a goal: How many techniques can you commit to implementing over the next couple of weeks? (Don’t over do it, though!) • Team Leaders: In an upcoming team meeting, set aside 10 minutes for your team to share their experiences.
Resource Ormrod, J. (2004). Human learning. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.