Why Students Can't Succeed Without The Right Motivation

Achievement motivation is considered to be the need every human being has in order to achieve anything in life. It is the persistence for making one's aspiration, ambitions, and dreams come true, putting all the efforts into the performance to receive an evaluation according to certain standards of excellence.

This sort of behavior is known as achievement-oriented. Such motivation comes from knowing your responsibilities and the outcomes when failure or success is all the result of your efforts. 

The main goal is to succeed, to give the best of your abilities regarding the standards of excellence when you compete with others. This topic has become of great concern in all walks of life and human activities, from education to industry, sociology, and enterprising activities. Historians, economists, and others who are interested in economic development are interested in this issue as well. 

Achievement motivation has been of great interest to psychologists also, since the emergence of psychology as a scientific discipline, (i.e., late 1800). William James recognized that competence striving is correlated with self-evaluation.

Achievement motivation is a topic of great interest in the science of psychology, especially educational psychology, industrial psychology, organizational psychology, developmental psychology, and many others.

As per the research conducted by NCBI National Center for Biotechnology Institute, their studies relate to the success and implications for achievement motivation.

Why some students are not motivated

Why some students are not motivated
Image source:reviewjournal.com

Here is why some students are unmotivated and cannot put all their efforts into studying.

1. A student might consider the course having no value.

Although the course can be objectively valuable, if students don't understand its value, then they will not engage in learning it. On the other hand, if students find the coursework matches their interests and concerns, then there are higher chances that they will engage in studying it.

2. Students don't believe in their skills.

If they think although they may try, they will not reach the desirable success. Their motivation may be affected by the difficulty of the course, or they might have a fixed mindset, rather, than a growth mindset. People with a fixed mindset think that their skills, talents, and intelligence are born with rather than developed through hard work, then the chances of quitting without even trying are higher.

3. The structure and distribution of prizes demotivate the students.

Such demotivation can happen for several reasons. First, if students' work and effort are not paid off, then it is very likely they will lose motivation. Secondly, they will give up doing an assignment if the time and effort for doing it don't match with the points they earn.

Third, they will give up doing a specific element of an assignment if they don't get the right feedback (for example, if a professor asks students to give original arguments, but evaluates them based on organization and mechanics).

Students may lack motivation for struggling to excel if the instructor does not make clear the difference between being excellent and giving a bad performance. Furthermore, if students believe and see that the criteria for grading are imprecise and undeserving, then it is very likely they will grow unmotivated. 

4. There is not enough support.

The classroom atmosphere, including the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical environment, all these elements may increase students' lack of motivation. However, if the classroom atmosphere is supportive and encouraging then they will increase their motivation. 

5. Students have other interests to focus on.

When they deal with multitasking in the same period, then they will be inclined to pursue some goals and leave other ones aside.

College students deal with balancing their goals, academic (lectures and classes), pre-professional (conferences and job fairs), social (friends and dating) physical (having the right amount of sleep and exercises).

Instructors must structure the courses to keep their students motivated despite their other goals impinging their time, energy, and attention. 

6. Certain students may be struggling with physical, mental, or other personal issues, which decreases their motivation.

Physical or mental health issues, substance abuse, or any other personal issue does interfere with students' engagement in a course. Depression decreases their energy, bipolar disorder increases their initiation but causes problems with completion, or goal-directed activities.

These disorders may affect their behavior causing them to miss class, arrive late, sleep in class, miss assignments or not respond to email, and change their appearance or demeanor.  

As per the research conducted by the University of Carolina, they relate why do high school students lack motivation in the classroom. As per another study conducted by the National Association of School Psychologists, they give insight into why students are unmotivated and what teachers can do. 

Effects of lack of motivation in school 

effects of lack of motivatin in school
Image Source: 1.bp.blogspot.com

Low motivation is inevitable for everyone at a certain time in their life. To students, this can cause them an outstanding increase in their schoolwork and studies. If it is left unchecked, then it will produce negative results throughout their academic year, even worse, it can lead them to a downward spiral of demoralization. 

Lack of motivation can be a matter of great concern regarding students. Some students develop demotivation due to their fears of falling in class. If we take an example, in the state of California alone, statistics reveal that more than 40% of students have lost their interest in learning.

How is it related to the classroom environment? If students arent present and interested in the class, then they may end up developing outbursts of negative behavior. These kinds of problems negatively affect other students in the classroom by talking, sleeping, etc. 

How do parents deal with this in their homes? Sometimes lack of motivation seems to be avoidant behavior - a coping response due to pain-related with their endeavors but failing repeatedly although having given their utmost efforts. Consequently, leading to a lack of motivation about school. This can create problems and issues between parents and kids, generating confrontation in families. 

When students go through such experiences they lose intent in social activities, sports, family functions, etc. What is worse, it can develop depression, and substance abuse, causing students to drop out of school.

It is a negative chain reaction that leads from a negative outcome to another, dropping out of school, leads to a low-paying job, and a poor quality of life. People belonging to a lower socioeconomic status (SES) have higher chances of engaging in criminal activities. 

Role of a teacher in motivating students. 

Teachers deal with challenges and one of the biggest and most important is motivating their students. An unmotivated student doesn't learn effectively. For them it is difficult to retain information and be active during class, they may even be disruptive during class.

Reasons for this can be a lack of interest in the subject, or they find the teaching methods unengaging. Other factors could be difficulty in learning and such cases, require special attention. 

Although it is a hard task to motivate students, the results are worthy. Motivation makes students learn and engage during class. simply said: A class full of motivated students gives satisfaction to both teachers and students alike. Some students are self-motivated, they have a natural love for learning and reach their full potential, even students who lack the natural drive for learning. 

There are five steps that a teacher may follow to instill the love of learning in his students. 

1. Encourage students. Students need positive feedback from their teachers to thrive during the school year. They need open communication and free thinking with their teacher and peers to make them feel important. If the classroom is a warm environment, where students are heard and respected then they will be eager to learn. "Good job" and "well done" can do the trick.

2. Get them involved. Involving them during the class would teach them to be responsible. Sharing a particular task with each student can make the class fun. Give them responsibilities like decorating the classroom, keeping it clean, or asking students to take turns over reading. Ask them to work in a group and encourage teamwork. When teachers give their students a sense of ownership, this makes them feel accomplished and be an active part of the class. 

3. Give them bonuses. What we just mentioned may encourage students to participate, but rewards might be the extra push they need. Rewards make learning fun. They can vary from small to large, like giving special privileges to the best of the class. By rewarding your students, you make them feel accomplished and have a goal in mind. 

4. Get creative. Rather than applying a monotonous lecture, try to teach through games and discussions, make them participate in debates, use visual aids, charts, diagrams, and videos. Nowadays teachers can apply movies related to a book or topic. Don't make your physical class boring, use posters, models, and students projects to give life and create an encouraging environment. 

5. Draw connections to real life. Students may ask "When will I ever need this?" It suggests that they are not engaged. If they think it is irrelevant to their life and the reality they live in, they simply will not learn. For example, algebra is related to engineering, and they will need it in their career. Show them how real people in real-life use subjects they learn in school. When they realize how these subjects are applied in real life, then they will be more eager to learn. 

How to motivate students to succeed in college. 

How to motivate students to succeed in college
Image source:Rasmussen.edu

According to some studies, researchers have discovered that students who don't believe in their academic skills, or think that don't belong to their schools due to particular backgrounds, may fall behind or fail at school - despite their given skills, intelligence, or quality of education process. But students can be encouraged psychologically to make determined efforts to deal with academic challenges. 

When they think of themselves as "stupid," the right solution is not to say they are "intelligent" but make them understand that being "intelligent" or "stupid" has nothing to do with success.

Researchers like David Paunesku from the University of Standford found that those students who had a strong belief that hard work can improve their academic abilities resulted in those students giving a better academic performance.

As per the research conducted by psychologist Carol Dweck, she relates according to her studies and insights that in a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. 

On the other hand, students may come in class motivated, but the teaching methods and the teacher's behavior, the syllabus, the nature of the assignment, and the relationship between teacher-students can have a direct impact on a student level of motivation. Teachers can make a difference when it comes to motivation. 

Nowadays, in the world we live in, with the vast advancement in technology and science, students' ways of motivation are changing and will continue to change over time.

Students are more attached to life priorities like work, family, and emotional/psychological needs rather than their education. Today education is commodified, it is considered a consumption instead of a process to engage. 

According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, in Great Expectations, (AA&U 2002), students must turn into the conscious architects of their education, they must set goals actively, explore, reflect, and use the knowledge they have learned and experiences in the world they live. 

Teachers can use different strategies during class to enhance students' learning and engagement. 

General strategies

 Students are prone to activities they esteem and expect success.

  • Capitalize on their needs. Students are motivated tolerant when the course meets their needs, like completing something, gaining new experiences, improving their skills, overcoming challenges, becoming more competent, and being part of society. Fulfilling these kinds of needs is rewarding in itself. 

  • Make students participate in learning. They learn by doing, making, writing, designing, creating, and solving. Passive students have dull motivation and creativity. Ask questions, ask students to give approaches to issues, and give results. 
  • Ask students' opinions. What makes a class more or less "motivating" Their opinion of what makes or doesn't make a lecture motivation can help them build intrinsic motivation. 

Incorporating instructional behavior that motivates students

  • Hold high but real expectations for your students. When teachers expect the best results from their students, researchers have proven that they can meet the task in most cases.
  • Help students to challenge themselves. Enable your students to analyze their success, and encourage them to be objectively critical of their work, analyzing their weaknesses and strength. 

Structuring the course to motivate your students 

  • Work from students' interests. The right instructor doesn't teach about their likes, and what they are required, but what they find interesting. Don't teach them works that require criticizing or punishing to incite intrinsic motivation.
  • Get to know your students. Give them the chance to know you closer, who you are, and what is your role. 
  • Apply different teaching methods. Using this kind of method enables the diverse learning of all classes. It awakes them and motivates them. Make the class interesting by using role-play, debates, brainstorming, discussion, demonstrations, group work, case studies, etc. 

De-emphasize grades. 

  • Researchers say that it is not necessary to emphasize grading, or the system of credit points, they oppose applying grades to deal with nonacademic behavior, (e.g., lower grades for missed classes). Instead, give them ungraded written work, make them know the satisfaction of doing the assignment, and give them feedback to understand their progress.
  • Design tests that encourage the right kind of learning. If your purpose is to make students memorize details then such a test will only. Make them focus on memorizing, but if you want them to synthesize, evaluate the info, students are more likely to apply such skills when they study. 
  • Never use grades as a threat. It can make students work hard, or become dishonest, give excuses for late work, and similar counterproductive behavior.

Motivate students by responding to their work.

1. Give them feedback as soon as possible.

Show them some facts about their progress, and where do they need to make improvements.

2. Rewards success.

Positive and negative feedback has a direct influence on motivation. As per the research conducted by NCBI National Center for Biotechnology Information, they relate that that positive feedback and success affect students the most.

3. Tell them how their work will be graded.

Show them specific information about who their work will be graded, and what material they need to use in their works, give them examples from works of previous students. If they understand what quality work is, it is more likely it will motivate them to give their best. 

4. Be specific on giving negative feedback.

Negative feedback can destroy their belief in themselves, just make clear that your comment is related to a particular task, and not to the student as a person. Try to give positive feedback or compliment about other aspects of the task they have done successfully.

As per the research conducted by scientists at NCBI National Center for Biotechnology Center, they compare the negative and positive feedback have on learning. 

5. Never give demeaning comments.

Be comprehensible on the words you choose when you make comments in order not to hurt their feelings, and destroy their self-esteem

6. Don't answer the homework to struggling students, it will prevent them to think for themselves.

You can use a different method like asking them about one possible solution, relieving their anxiety for not having the right answer, and shifting their focus on the given problem, or you can ask the student to say everything they know about the problem or assignment.

7. Don't forget to praise them for every small and independent step.

Implementing these steps will make the students understand that it is ok to not have an instant answer to the problems. Simultaneously, they will learn patience to work at their own pace. These will give them a sense of achievement and confidence that will only increase their motivation to learn. 

Personal story; the returning veteran... 

Military veterans are inclined to go back to school thanks to the benefits of post 9/11 G.I. bill stipulates, however returning vets have to deal with lots of insecurities. It was the same even for Jake Johnson who returned home after serving in the U.S Air Force.

Life in the military requires strong and rigid discipline, and the freedom Johnson experienced after finishing his service in the military was kind of overwhelming at the beginning. 

Nevertheless, the experience, discipline, and work ethic he acquired during his service gave positive results on his academic career, after learning to give orders of his own.

He relates: " I was shocked with just how easy it was for me to sit down and do my work. I think a lot of that comes from the military getting me used to taking orders and carrying them out."

He earned his Rasmussen College degree in 2012 with an associate degree. At present, he is working as a police officer in Arkansas. His military experience and what he learned during his academic training proved to be of great benefit to him in his current job.  

Final thoughts

Instructors must keep in mind and take into consideration not only the level of motivation but even the form and way a student is motivated if they are more motivated intrinsically or extrinsically.

Instructors can use this knowledge to push their students forward, but gently toward more internal motivation and develop in them the sense of competence and being in charge of their studying, simultaneously doing everything they can to engage their students with more interesting and relevant content. 

Students' academic performance is influenced directly by their motivation. There are indeed students gifted with the skills to learn, but teachers must play a crucial role in their motivation as well. Their drive may wane, in such cases, they need the intervention of the teacher. They are the ones who must create a supportive environment that facilitates students' learning through external support. 

Their duty is perceived when it comes to supporting students' autonomy, relevance, relatedness, competence, teachers' interests, and self-efficacy about performing their jobs.

Although students can have internal motivators or external ones, the role of a teacher in giving the right support for their learning, creating and maintaining a satisfactory environment will only enhance students' motivation to learn and succeed. 

Although it is up to the teachers to trigger the right motivation in their students, however, it is not that easy. For this reason, teachers, and instructors need to learn themselves all they need to do to achieve this efficaciously.

Teachers don't need to be psychologists, all they need is to know their students, love their job, and deal with problems not as challenges or obstacles, but as needs to overcome during the way which will make their students thrive.


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