Why student motivation is important

Motivation is a value that encompasses all the internal or external factors that determine, partially or totally, our actions. Closely related to tenacity and constancy, its importance has been highlighted over the last few months, in relation to the psychological difficulties that confinement has caused for many people and which now, together with the return to relative normality, is taking on renewed importance in areas ranging from the personal to the social, inevitably including education, whether the latter case in its digital and distance sense or in its recovered face-to-face aspect.

Notes on educational motivation

Motivation is widely considered to be a fundamental factor in human life, insofar as it allows us to achieve our proposed objectives and thus survive. This high degree of consensus about its importance does not translate into the countless theories that, from fields such as philosophy, science or sociology, have tried to find a concrete and integral origin to its existence, but it has made possible

The differentiation between two basic types of motivations, which we point out below:

  • Intrinsic motivation: as its name indicates, this motivation comes from the individual himself and not from a possible compensation external to his will and particular interests. It is considered the most effective of all possible motivations, since its often emotional nature causes those who use it to become personally involved in achieving their goals.
  • Extrinsic motivation: in contrast to the previous one, extrinsic motivation depends on stimuli that are alien to the individual, such as money or public recognition, which reinforce his or her decision making and constancy in a way that is indirectly related to the work he or she wants to carry out.

Both typologies find their echo in the educational world through some of the elements that make up the formative process of students. Thus, the affective and emotional environment of students, their conception of themselves, and their previous knowledge and skills would be integrated into the intrinsic side of the motivational balance, while the subjects to be learned, the school environment, teachers, and their relationship with the rest of the students would belong to the extrinsic motivational block.

Two motivational models for the same objective whose balance changes when applied to distance learning, which requires greater intrinsic motivation to function given the (comparatively) lower amount of external reinforcements characteristic of extrinsic educational motivation.

How to motivate your students

Regardless of whether it is face-to-face or distance learning, motivation is a crucial factor in making the training process of every student no longer effective, but rather take place. However, to achieve this, and although it may seem obvious, it is vitally important that motivation acts as a positive reinforcement aimed at achieving the educational objectives set, and not as a generator of rejection of them.

Some motivational strategies for your students to get the strength to continue learning, despite the occasional demotivating circumstances, and either from home or looking forward to returning to the classroom.

  • Whether in a virtual or face-to-face environment, create a climate in which students can feel comfortable and emotionally supported, especially at an early age, knowing their expectations and possibilities in order to try to establish a learning itinerary halfway between what is exciting, however possible, and what is difficult enough to be a challenge for the student.
  • Clarify their interests, trying to relate them, intrinsically or extrinsically, with the educational objectives that have been or will be set, giving them an ultimate meaning that goes beyond the simple completion of a task, or the memorization of one or more concepts. In this way, they will be able to overcome more easily the motivational bumps they encounter throughout these months.
  • Supervise their work, encouraging them to write a log of their progress and keeping in touch with them as much as possible, either in person or remotely. Likewise, the review of the subjects and the elaboration of self-evaluations and the sharing between students and teachers of the results, with a view to establishing axes of improvement and celebrating the achievements made, are a magnificent motivational tool.
  • Interactivity among students or simply among peers improves their motivation and allows the development of their self-image through the relationships they maintain with others. For practical purposes, this social factor of motivation has been questioned with the closure of educational centres, but it can be resolved, not even minimally, in a digital space that allows group work, discussion forums or open debates, always governed by the principles of netiquette to guarantee its functioning.