Maintaining Motivation for Students: Tips to Keep Them Engaged All Year

Have you ever wondered why we do the things we do?

Specifically, what motivates us and how can we learn to channel motivation when it’s lacking?

The truth is, the answer to this question is subjective and varies from person to person. But throughout my own experience within the sporting field, studying psychology and working as a tutor through A Team Tuition, I have come to realise some consistent trends amongst students who seem to master this ‘motivation mystery.’

Mastering motivation is incredibly important, especially when it comes to the last few parts of the year. Nearing Term 4, students seem to be the most demotivated and complacent that they ever will be in the school year. 

I’m here to tell you not only why you need to make them snap out of that complacency, but also give you a few useful tips on how. 

What is Motivation?

Before we chat about Term 4, and why it’s important to stay motivated for the last 6 to 8 weeks of the school year, I’d like to chat about some key factors concerning motivation.

On the surface, it is easy to visualise motivation. It is the spark that fuels our energy to achieve beyond expected; the quiet voice that urges us to get up on those cold winter mornings to exercise; and the drive behind the consistent effort that we put into our life goals. 

In order to understand the nature of motivation, however, psychologists have proposed a more definitive structure suggesting that to better understand motivation, we can break it down into two categories:

1) motivation from external sources (extrinsic), and
2) motivation from internal sources (intrinsic).

motivation for students

The main debate regarding these two categories of motivating factors poses the following question: which form, intrinsic or extrinsic, is the most effective for driving consistent, constructive behaviour?

Sources of Motivation for Students

In recent years, some interesting research regarding this debate has arisen. Psychologists have recently reported that offering excessive external rewards for an already internally rewarding behaviour can lead to a loss of intrinsic motivation; a phenomenon known as the over-justification effect.

For example, showering a student in gifts – when they are already satisfied with their personal improvement – may be detrimental.

This is not to say that external rewards are not important, however. They are certainly beneficial in some situations. For example, incentives can induce participation, encourage the acquisition of new skills, and can be a source of reinforcing feedback, subsequently enhancing confidence.

When it comes to education, in order to engage consistent interest and commitment to learning, a student must feel like they are serving a purpose and are proud of themselves and their efforts.

According to the renowned humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow, the feeling of personal achievement, often deemed self-actualisation, is the greatest need and point of achievement for human beings. This indicates that perhaps external rewards will never provide the same gratification as self-actualisation. And yes, you guessed it – self-actualisation is achieved through intrinsic motivating factors.

What is Intrinsic Motivation? 

Put simply, intrinsic motivation refers to the desire to behave in ways that will personally satisfy one’s feelings of autonomy, purpose, confidence and success. In fact, an interesting study by Kusurkar (2011) found that the following six concepts were most effective for cultivating and providing a source of intrinsic motivation in students:

1) engage in learning that interests you,
2) choose topics you enjoy,
3) actively participate in discussions regardless of whether or not you know the answers,
4) request structured guidance from teachers and parents,
5) derive clear feedback for improvement, and
6) ensure you have a strong emotional support network.

If you find that one of these factors is missing in your life, it is of paramount importance that you take a step out towards it! Doing these things continually will greatly increase your personal drive and hunger to achieve, without any need of extrinsic reward.

Student Motivation in Term 4 – How to Improve End-of-School-Year Student Motivation

Now that we’ve discussed what motivation is, we’re in the perfect position to discuss what I’ve heard students call “The Bludge Term” – Term 4. 

As Term 4 approaches, it’s crucial for teachers to support their students in maintaining motivation and finishing strong. Here are some essential motivation tips for students during this critical period. 

1. Set Clear and Attainable Goals

Collaborate with your students to establish clear, specific, and achievable goals for the semester. Break down large goals into smaller milestones, allowing students to track their progress and feel a sense of accomplishment along the way. 

2. Celebrate Achievements 

Recognise and celebrate students’ accomplishments, both big and small. Highlight their hard work and efforts, reinforcing their motivation and boosting their confidence. 

3. Provide Support and Guidance

After finding out what inspires your students to learn, offer individualised support, identifying their strengths and areas for improvement. Provide constructive feedback, personalised resources, and strategies to help them overcome challenges to staying motivated. 

4. Foster a Positive Classroom Environment

Create a positive and inclusive atmosphere in the classroom that encourages student engagement and motivation. Promote a growth mindset by emphasising that mistakes are part of the learning process and are opportunities for growth. 

5. Encourage Reflection and Self-Assessment

Provide opportunities for students to reflect on their progress and set personal goals. Encourage self-assessment and self-reflection to foster autonomy and ownership over their own learning journey. 

6. Encourage Peer Collaboration

Promote collaborative learning opportunities where students can work together, share ideas, and support one another. Peer collaboration fosters a sense of community, motivation, and collective achievement.

By implementing these strategies, teachers can play a pivotal role in maintaining students’ motivation during their final semester. By creating a supportive and engaging learning environment, students will be inspired to stay focused, work diligently, and achieve their academic goals.

Leverage the Power of Tutoring 

Tutors can provide personalised guidance, on-on-one support, and tailored strategies to help provide motivation for students and help them overcome challenges. By working closely with tutors, students gain an extra level of support and encouragement, fostering a sense of accountability and confidence in their academic abilities. 

If you feel like your child could use extra support with an academic motivation boost, contact A Team Tuition and discover how our tutors can help.