“What almost 150 studies say about how to motivate students”

Originally posted in our September 2021 Top of Mind Newsletter.

We need to focus on a few key factors as we think about how we structure motivational learning environments. In a meta-analysis comprising almost 150 studies on student motivation, we see two observations that impact how we motivate learners.

The first observation is that, while parents have a role in motivating students, teachers have much more control over how engaged a student will be in the classroom. And, this is true regardless of grade or other factors. This is generally because of all the potential tools available to teachers and their time with the students in a learning context.

But, most notably regarding an entrepreneurial approach to teaching are three psychological needs all students need. These are “competency, belonging, and autonomy.”

It is important to distinguish that competency does not mean the student already knows about a topic or how to fulfill a task. Instead, it is that they feel capable of learning the needed information. This feeling of competence in their learning leads to confidence that studying, practicing, and experimenting will yield positive results. It also shores up their fear of failure.

While competency is most pivotal to creating motivated learners (as a side note, autonomy becomes the most vital in a working environment), all three needs are essential. All three act as “‘kindling’ for intrinsic or internal motivation.”

It is this intrinsic motivation that we are after and is a hallmark of an entrepreneurial classroom or learning organization.

How are you motivating learners?