Motivation is something that occurs in our daily life every now and then. For example, I have always heard people saying that ‘I do not have motivation to do this’ or ‘I need some motivation’, not only others but even I myself needs motivation all the time in order to complete my task, no matter in learning, working, or losing weight, we need motivation. Based on what I have learnt in Understanding Learners and Learning during the second semester, motivation is an internal process that activates, guides, and maintains behaviour over time. It is one of the most critical components of learning but also one of the most difficult things to measure at the same time because it varies in intensity and direction and it is intangible. In my opinion, there are some key elements that motivate us to learn such as reward, a sense of accomplishment, relevancy and interest.
First of all, reward is the most common reason why we are motivated to learn or achieve something. In Understanding Learners and Learning class, we have come acrossed the motivation and behavioral learning theory which believed that motivation is a consequence of reinforcement. It indicates that reward motivates students to move forward in order to get it. It is generally seen in the classroom where the teachers will use candy as a reward to motivate the students to participate in the discussion. The picture on the left side shows some of the rewards that can be given by the teachers to motivate students. Some are really applicable for my later teaching but I think that some are inappropriate to give as a reward such as sitting at teacher’s desk and couch which I think it is a sign of disrespect. Also, incentive can be used as a great tool to motivate students in learning. For example, my teachers liked to say that if we did our homework and passed it up on time, we would get extra marks in the final exam. Of course we would listen to her because we wanted the marks. I could not deny that this it is a good way to motivate students, however, students are only learning for the final product, not the process. Thus, the purpose of motivation is somehow neglected as it is only focusing on extrinsic motivation.
As another example, my family used to give me price as a reward when I got excellent results in the exams such as UPSR, SPM and UEC. Furthermore, the Toh Association, my surname’s association, will give price for students who get merit resulIts and I have received price from the association since primary school. This reward might seem different from giving present, but it surprisingly works on me. It is not that I am a money-driven person, but it somehow just motivates me to study even harder to get the reward. Or I guess maybe it is because it will make me think that I can earn my own money by studying hard. Reward is always seen as a contributor to extrinsic motivation, but I think that it will eventually convert to intrinsic motivation, at least for me it is. I have to admit that I was motivated to learn just because of the desirable price when I was in junior middle level. As I grow up, the reward has disappeared gradually because my family knows nothing about CGPA, I did not blame them because I am not aiming to gain price from them. I feel glad because they have shaped me into a hardworking person and the concept of studying hard is rooted in my mind even if there is no reward. Therefore, I think that extrinsic motivation has switched to intrinsic motivation in my case.
Secondly, I think that achievement can motivate people to learn because when they have achieved something, they tend to develop a sense of accomplishment or even a sense of pride. Also, it gives people a prove or reassure them that they have the ability to do something and thus they might gain more confidence and put more effort in achieving goal. For instance, I was in the first rank in my class during secondary school, this achievement was really an awesome achievement because I have never thought of getting such a high rank in my learning experience. As a result, it turned out to be a motivation for me to learn and sustain my ranking because I have gained so much confidence from my achievement. Another example, I had been studying so hard for SPM, when I saw the results I burst out crying because it proved to me that my hard work get paid off. When everyone was congratulating me, a sense of pride has developed simultaneously and I felt proud of myself too. As a result, I was motivated to gain another achievement in the next exam which was the Unified Examination Center (UEC), although the results was not that bad but it was not as good as my expectation, overall it was still a great achievement for me. However, it did not affect my motivation to learn, even when I am in university, I still have the intrinsic motivation to learn and study. I admit that I enjoy to achieve something desirable, and that is why I get most of the motivations from achievement.
Success equals to relevance, I think that relevance and interest can affect one’s motivation in learning. Therefore, learning content has to be made relevant and interesting to the students by relating it to the real life situation or even students themselves, only then can the students have the motivation and passionate to learn. From student’s perspective, I would think that if what I am going to learn is not applicable to my life or useful in my future, why am I studying it for then. I am sure that everyone needs to know the connection between learning and real life in order to be motivated to learn. For example,in my previous learning experience, when learning human organs in Science, I am more than willing to learn because I know that it is related to the real world and human beings, thus motivation is enhanced. Also, whenever the teachers mention that a particular topic is important to everyone as it is useful in our future life or career, I tend to have more motivation to learn as it is directed to myself and it would be my own loss if I did not learn about it. Whereas if the learning content taps on students’ interest, they will be motivated to learn as they might feel they are valued. When a student’s curiosity is aroused, he or she will have motivation to explore it and seek it out. For instance, when I was teaching Geopgraphy in primary school , some students were excited to sit around me and listened to me teaching about the world maps. When I asked them questions, they were just too enthusiastic to respond and I felt happy because they were so passionate in learning this topic. Even for me, I have passionate in travelling, when the teachers were teaching world maps in Geography class, I would always eager to learn and full of motivation and attention because that is my interest. However, I have realized it is difficult to make sure that the whole class is listening because their interest varies. Some topics might be interesting for certain students and some might not. And as a teacher, I know there would be some limitations in teaching because I could not cater to everyone’s needs. What I can do is trying to maximize students’ motivation in learning, and as time goes by, I will gain more and more experience. In a nutshell, I personally think that all these elements above are effective in motivating students to learn as I have experienced before.
As individual is different from one another, therefore when they are gathered up in a classroom, the classroom becomes a mixture because learners come from different family background, culture, beliefs, learning styles and learning abilities. Therefore there would be various types of learners such as gifted learners, average learners, slow learners or learners with learning difficulties. In order to motivate gifted learners, my own tip is that the teachers might have to come out with a lot of pedagogics, ideas and instruction. Based on what I have learnt about gifted learners in Inclusive Education and Teaching Mathematics to the students, they learn faster than the others by requiring less instructional time and attention, they are problem solver and information processor, sometimes they might be observant, have good memory or even speak sophisticated language. When we want to motivate gifted learners in learning, we need a differentiated instruction for them. For example, teachers can prepare lesson in a same topic as others but requires higher order thinking and Socratic questions so that they need to think advanced. Challenging assessment or tasks can be provided for gifted learners but bear in mind that tasks are too complex and not achievable could demotivate the learners. Other than that, technology can be implemented into learning such as the online platform that I have introduced in the previous reflection. Power My Learning would be a great tool to motivate gifted learners as they are required to challenge themselves by completing level by level. I think that most of the kids are always motivated when they heard of “games”. Moreover, gifted learners might need enrichment to boost their motivation in learning by participating in competition that is specifically designed for the gifted learners. With that, all of them are clustered and they could share their ideas together for a better learning experience. Again, it is always easier said than done, I have one classmate who learnt faster than anyone in Mathematics in secondary school, but we were learning in the same pace without differentiated tasks for him. As a result, whenever he finished his work, he would do other things which were not relevant to mathematics.
In addition, for learners who have learning difficulties, we need different strategies from gifted learners. Students struggle in the classroom is a common phenomena, sometimes when students face problems in their learning, they might lost their interest or motivation easily, and give up eventually. Therefore, I think that what teachers can do is to provide teaching aids that can best help in motivating students with learning difficulties. For example, teachers can organize field trip for students because it is fun and they will be engaged; when students are struggling in learning abstract topics, teachers could bring in concrete objects to gain their motivation or teachers can use the aid of technology to help struggling students have a better understanding about certain topics. Also, as Vygotsky suggested that scaffolding is undeniably important in learning, I agree with it and believe that it is more crucial especially for students with learning difficulties. By just imagine that I am helpless, the feeling would eliminate my motivation in learning. So do the students, that is why I think that by providing guidance and support to the struggling students will motivate them to learn as they know which direction they are heading. Frankly, there was one girl in my class that seemed lost whenever I asked her some questions, I have noticed that she was not paying attention during the lesson, and she did not do her homework as well. At that moment, I did not ask whether or not she understood the lesson, and just left her there because I did not know what to do to help her. After that, I mentioned her case to other teachers, and knew that she is a slow learner. However, I could not do anything now as I am no longer her teacher, but it makes me realized that I have made a big mistake by not helping her at that time. Thus, if I have ever met any struggling students in the future, I will learn to be patient and try to help them as much as I can. On the other hand, I think that it is not only the teachers’ responsibility to motivate the students, but also the parents and peers. They play equally important role in motivating students to learn. For parents, they can provide extra guidance at home in helping struggling students with their learning. Also, complimenting is definitely important as they need assurance by others saying that they are capable in doing something only they are motivated to learn. Parents can reward students with learning difficulties when they have achieved their goals so that they can take it as a motivation to continue further their learning. Whereas for peers, they can help in establishing a positive and conducive learning environment so that learners with learning difficulties would not feel inferior in the class or fear to take risk in learning. Peers should not look down at them, instead they should respect each other and provide support regularly. With that, I believe that students motivation can be enhanced without discrimination from others.
Last but not least, everyone has their own emotion and it is usually uncontrollable. It is not odd that students carry their emotions or personal issues into the class. However, as a teacher, we need to minimize the effects of their personal issues has on their learning. From my experience, I think that in order to identify whether or not the person has personal issue, you will have to observe their action and facial expression. For instance, when my friend did not initiate or participate in the conversation, or she looked blur and lost all the time, I would know that something was wrong with her. Same goes to students, they are at their young age in which it is easier to identify than an adult because they could not hide their emotions. Since we could not change how they react or feel as this is their internal thought, at least in motivating students with personal issues, teachers can prepare various fun and engaging activities for students to participate. In my opinion, I think active participation is the best way to distract students’ attention from their personal issues because when they are engrossed in the activity, their current attention would be put in the activity. Why would I say that is because I was upset because I spoilt my plan, but when I had a group discussion with my friends, I would immersed into it without thinking of my own issue. Hence, it could be one of the best solutions in motivating students with personal issues.
In a nutshell, students’ motivation is significant in effective learning process and there are various methods that can help in boosting their motivation. I have read one article written by a teacher in a newspaper before, she said that what you wanted to teach did not mean what the students wanted to learn. I totally agree with what she has said because we could not expect everyone to accept what are given to them. As a result, we could only try the methods on them and see whether or not it works in motivating students. If not, we have to use another strategy. Teaching and learning are just like life, we step out and try, we fall and make mistake, and that is how we grow and learn from our mistake.
Be motivated and get things done!