Student Motivation – Adams Academy

by | Oct 10, 2018 | Teaching | 0 comments

For our October meeting, we read Svinicki, Marilla D. “Student Goal Orientation, Motivation, and Learning.” Accounting Education News 33.3 (2005): 7-10

This article first discussed different types of student motivation. First (and the most welcomed by faculty) is mastery goal orientation. Students that display this type of motivation will work simply for the sake of learning. Two other types of motivation fall under performance goal (or grade) orientation. Performance approach-orientated students want to appear smarter or more successful than their classmates, whereas performance avoidance-oriented students want to avoid getting the answer wrong and looking foolish in front of others. The final group, students that display work avoidance, simply want to do the least amount of work necessary.

Instructors can structure their classroom environment to promote the display of mastery goal-oriented motivation by most students. Overall, student motivation is increased if the students see value or purpose to the work and if the student believes they can succeed or are encouraged during the work process when not yet successful. Negative consequences to failure decrease motivation, particularly for performance avoidance-oriented students, so failure should be presented as further opportunities for learning.

Motivation theory also posits that providing students with the element of choice in their coursework can increase student effort. I have always had a difficult time with this. My courses are organized around active learning assignments. I spend a great deal of time crafting questions to push the students past relaying facts from the textbook. I have never been able to come up with a way for students to learn the material I would like to cover and still have a choice in the work they do. I have seen some faculty give students the opportunity to choose X number of assignments out of the total, but I feel like then students are missing out on practicing the skills I want them to learn. I have yet to wrap my head around the idea of choice. I would love to hear example of how other instructors provide choice in their classrooms to increase student motivation.


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