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English 401-Advanced Composition

Student Motivation
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Student Motivation


            Student motivation is essential to creating a positive learning environment; therefore, every teacher needs to develop a unique way in which to motivate their students in the classroom.  The case study presented which includes the instructor, Mr. Wilson, and his students, is a perfect example of the diverse teaching, or a motivational technique, that educators implement while in the classroom setting. 

            First, in terms of behavioral learning theories, Mr. Wilsons’ motivational strategy is geared only toward the smarter students in his class.  Behavioral theory focuses on changes in behavior that occur due to experiences that take place in each particular environment and the behavioral approach to motivation states that, “praise and rewards in the classroom are beneficial to student learning.”  Mr. Wilson’s “Look What I Did” bulletin board approach only displays work from those students who perform at an ‘A’ level, leaving out those who do not meet his standards.  While this strategy will motivate those who are intrinsic, or task-involved learners who produce high-quality work, it is not the best idea for those with low self-efficacy.  This is the case with his student, Jordan, because he commented that he “…always makes mistakes…” and Xias who states that “No matter how hard I try, I’m just not good enough for the bulletin board”; therefore, they never received an ‘A’ and their papers were never hung on the bulletin board.  Certain students probably received very little verbal praise from Mr. Wilson and they have a poor view of school.  It is obvious that Jordan and Xias have high anxiety and display failure-acceptance; whereas, Tonya, Edwin, Olga, Brad, and Tori possess mastery/learning orientation in their respective coursework because their ‘A’ papers are always on display.  It is possible, though, that some of the students could be extrinsic learners because they are externally motivated by what their parents offer them for good grades, while others could be intrinsically motivated because they have the desire to learn.  Jordan’s need for a reward, be it a sticker on his paper or a note stating ‘Good Progress’, will do much to improve his outlook on school.  Rewards, even small ones, serve as a good communication technique.

            In terms of the humanistic theory of motivation, Mr. Wilson made a wise decision when he considered his students ideas and made the appropriate changes to how the bulletin board would be presented.  He now becomes more concerned with establishing a positive student-teacher relationship.  This is one of the key elements in developing student motivation according to the humanistic view of motivation and will provide his students with opportunities to obtain positive feelings of belonging while in his class.

            After the class discussion about the bulletin board, Mr. Wilson displays sympathy toward the conditions of his students.  He becomes very aware of his students’ feelings, making him more concerned about them as people first and then concerned about them as his students.  This will allow him to treat his students with unconditional positive regard and give him the ability to separate who the students are outside of class from their intrinsic worth as individuals. 

            In regard to the social and cognitive learning theory, Mr. Wilson previously caused some of his students to have low expectancy X value because they see little value in doing well if their papers aren’t going to be put on the bulletin board.  Since they had low expectancy X value, they also had low intrinsic interest and possibly low self-efficacy.  Since the discussion and his plans to change the way papers are posted, giving the students a voice and a chance to post what they believe is their best work; he has helped to increase his students’ self-efficacy through encouragement.  They will now have high expectancy X value because they place a high value on their work and are motivated to put forth more effort into each class/subject.