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One of the most common challenges for a teacher is to find the formula to motivate students to learn. With motivation, everything is easier in the classroom. You could involve more students in class projects, generate more discussion, stimulate questions or simply induce the effort? There is good news. Scientific research confirms repeatedly yes and found the keys.
Motivation is an internal motor that turns us mysteriously and predisposes us to learn easily, overcome difficulties and achieve the impossible. I say mysteriously because decipher the reasons that make're motivated or want to learn, vary by person and can sometimes be a little obvious.
Traditionally for student behavior you want to extrinsic factors such as rewards and punishments are used. However, it is interesting that when we assign complex tasks that require sustained effort and creativity, this kind of rewards do not work to sustain long-term motivation.
This statement is not a suspect or an opinion but a fact documented for more than 50 years by experts and social studies on human behavior. Numerous experiments we discover what motivates humans in general and the results can easily be applied to your students inside and outside the classroom.
"People (and therefore your students) will be more creative when what motivates them is the interest, satisfaction and challenge of the work itself and not outside pressure." (Theresa Amabile, "How to Kill Creativity" Harvard Business Review, September 1998) "In 9 out of 10 tasks we examined across three experiments, we saw how more external incentives were given, worse performance was achieved". (D. Ariely, U.Gneezy, G.Lowenstein & N. Mazar, Federal Bank of Boston).
Daniel Pink, writer and American journalist, identified scientifically in his book The surprising truth about what motivates us, three keys that work repeatedly to get the motivation and the path to better performance: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Its application in the classroom could be translated as follows:
If you want your students to feel involved in a classroom project, instead of giving notes and exercise, give them the freedom to learn for themselves. Give them the autonomy to choose where and how to obtain knowledge. If you let them face the challenge at your own pace and decide the sequence, they go beyond what sets the agenda or what goes into the exam.
Clearly explains the purpose of the project and the results you expect but everyone is free to find their own way to meet the objective.
Autonomy also accommodates the fact that not all learn the same way. According to the principle of multiple intelligences, you can guide them to a variety of content in different formats: multimedia content, ebooks, YouTube for Schools, books, scientific journals, blogs and even social networks. Likewise, students can use what they have learned documents 2.0 tools, videos, oral presentations to the class, paper and pencil, a play, a post on a blog, discussing with an expert by videoconference, etc. The possibilities are endless and they will find the means excites them.
We must create opportunities to carry out their own research, make mistakes, learn from mistakes and develop the ability to solve problems. For this also an afternoon program "Fedex" within school hours.
One afternoon "FedEx" is an unusual practice that companies like Google do with their employees with great results. Gmail and Google News are two products developed during these hours FedEx. In schools also they start to apply.
Basically each quarter, on a Friday afternoon, students work on a project for several hours which is not part of the school syllabus but aroused great interest them. You may write poem, create a blog, record a video, build a contraption, conduct an experiment, etc. The following Monday, students present the results and impressions. Their logic is based on that students learn more when they have the autonomy to choose the topic.
With this activity students use their talents without restrictions, develop their creativity and try things out of curiosity or fun. It may seem that the time, which is no progress in the school syllabus but science suggests otherwise is lost.
"The simplest way to ensure that a person values ??what he is doing is to maximize your freedom of choice and autonomy". (Good and Brophy 2004). Today the available technology still offers more ways to provide this autonomy to students. Well it used is transformed into a powerful accelerator of motivation and ultimately learning.
The master refers to our desire to improve our skills, to progress and become more capable. Harvard Business School identifies it as the most important motivator.
A current obstacle is the exaggerated importance that some teachers and parents can get to give notes to assess student progress. If a student perceives that the goal is to pass a test or get a good grade, the student becomes less prone to take risks, a prerequisite for creativity and learning. Instead of trying to learn what really interests you, start thinking if these issues come into the exam and how it will affect the note.
It is interesting to experiment with assigning projects that do not score or have little weight in the final grade. Emphasis is given to personal satisfaction of acquiring new skills, taking as starting the strengths and interests of students. assessments that encourage the kind of learning that we want students to achieve are also designed. Moreover they guide them so that they themselves are able to assess their progress throughout the course and are motivated to improve without external pressures.
Finland is an example of an educational system where there are virtually no change assessments and get the best results in PISA tests year after year.
Students work best when they understand what is the purpose behind a classroom project and are especially useful in their professional future.
Trying to explain why a student should learn to make derivative in math, when you want to be a pianist, can be mission impossible. However, when possible, we can try to contextualize a topic in real life. For example, if we are learning statistics, we can make use real data that are interesting or curious for them, for example, find out how many people are born every minute in Spain or what is the average age of a Facebook user.
On the other hand, if we are studying English, we can try to decipher group of songs lyrics Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, or even find native friends on Facebook and Twitter with which to practice. They understand that English is a must for traveling vehicle, understand a culture, work abroad and make friends around the world.
You can also generate the content of a project following an interest that arises in the classroom spontaneously. For example, if a student is a wound in class does and you pester questions about the blood and the subject of microbes (occurs frequently with smaller), you can use to start a groupware and introduce concepts of the human body , infections, cells, etc. They read, write, investigate and learn the basic skills in a natural way. The purpose and usefulness is clear to them.