As we look forward to a foreseeable future of mostly online learning, teachers are finding themselves walking a tightrope of keeping students motivated while not letting their own morale down. Student motivation is a major concern regardless of which study model is adopted by each school: online, blended, hybrid, or a myriad variation. In the current pandemic scenario where teachers must deal with alternative learning modes, student motivation is especially important. Here are 5 strategies for student motivation in COVID-19 classrooms.
1. Bolster the student’s belief in her own competence. If students believe they can do it, they are motivated to try. Designing tasks that are both challenging for accomplished students while not overwhelming to other students is already a tightrope to walk under regular circumstances, however, and even more so with pandemic learning modes. This is where technology and visual tools can really come in handy, as well as creating tasks that have different levels. Bundling tasks with online technology aids will help keep students below grade level motivated, while providing an option to obtain extra credit on performing additional challenging tasks will keep students above grade level motivated.
2. Prove to students that their effort pays off. If the student doesn’t think effort makes a difference, they won’t expend any. Students get motivated when they know their voices are being heard, so be sure to incorporate both teacher and student feedback throughout the course. This is especially crucial with pandemic learning modes when student voices and feedback will have to be incorporated into the course design. Survey students on topics like the progress of course, course content, online aids used, etc., and incorporate their suggestions into how your class is run. This will keep students motivated and involved.
3. Motivate by modeling motivation. Students can catch motivation from a teacher who is obviously and unabashedly in love with the content and teaching. Motivation is infectious, and motivation begets more motivation. A positive flow of energy from the teacher is definitely going to catch a student’s attention. During these challenging times, it becomes more necessary to diligently select online, in-person, or hybrid tasks that are out of the box and motivate students. In turn, group work that pairs more motivated students with less motivated students could also help.
4. Always explain why. Students should always understand the value attached to what they are learning, as well as where it will be applied in the future. Instead of teachers telling students the importance of each underlying topic, it would be beneficial if students are directed to find the relevance and future application of each topic. When students understand the importance of learning what they are learning, they are more motivated to apply themselves.
5. Build a goal-oriented classroom. The importance of collaborative learning can not be overstated. In the case of pandemic learning modes, online collaborative tools can be a lifesaver. Google Drive offers various tools for online collaboration. For those in the computer science field, there are online tools available that allow team or pair collaborative programming. Online games, when coupled with learning, can also provide a wonderful study aid to reinforce course information.
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