Kindling their flames

Sparking students' enthusiasm for your field

According to re­nowned higher edu­cation re­searcher Ken Bain, all ex­ceptionally successful teachers have a single quality in common: the ability to spark their students' enthu­siasm and rein­force their in­trinsic moti­vation. But what actually is moti­vation how does it deve­lop, and how can we nur­ture it in our students?

Motivation theory: Basic model, after Rheinberg  (2002)
Motivation theory: Basic model, after Rheinberg (2002)

Moti­vation con­stitutes the single most im­portant factor in successful learning. Studies have shown that most first-semester students are highly moti­vated when they begin their studies – but that their moti­vation soon begins to wane. For this reason, it is im­por­tant to build edu­cational settings in which students stay moti­vated.

How, as teachers, can we es­tablish these settings? Generally speaking, most people are driven by three fun­damental motives: the desire for auto­nomy ("I want to be able to choose what to do and when to do it"), the aspi­ration to com­petence ("I want to be capable of some­thing"), and the need to feel connected ("I want to be part of a community"). Thus, students can be moti­vated by means such as pre­senting them with challenges, offering feed­back on their per­formance, and packaging edu­cational content in such a way that they grasp the connection to their per­sonal goals.

Most students will have chosen their de­gree pro­gram carefully and will be eager to delve into their studies; as teachers, it will be up to us to nur­ture this enthu­siasm, or to revive it. Toward this end, we can avail our­selves of a variety of tactics for spurring students' motivation – such as pre­senting lively intro­ductions to in­dividual topics, focusing on the practical re­levance of course content, assigning group tasks, and en­couraging inter­activity, to name a few.

  

  

  


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ProLehre | Medien und Didaktik

Augustenstraße 44
80333 München
Tel.: +49.89.289.25363
E-Mail: info(at)prolehre.tum.de
www.prolehre.tum.de