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Motivating Middle School Students


Motivating Middle School Students CAN it be done? YES!!!!! Break-out Questions: Working with the teachers at your table, discuss your answers to these questions. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Motivating Middle School Students

Motivating Middle School Students
  • CAN it be done? YES!!!!!!!!!!

Break-out Questions
  • Working with the teachers at your table, discuss
    your answers to these questions.
  • What do you believe to be the most important
    things in the lives of the middle school students
    that you teach?
  • What have you observed as being motivational to
    middle school students?

Discussion Did you group come up with answers
like these?
  • Whats important?
  • Friends
  • Lunch
  • Socializing
  • Sports
  • How they look in front of their peers
  • Extracurricular activities
  • What motivates?
  • Fun activities
  • Competition
  • Being with friends
  • If the subject is interesting
  • If the topic is relevant
  • Getting good grades

  • Humans are a unique creation. Each student has a
    mind that can think, learn, reason, and solve
  • Cognitive theory, currently the primary
    perspective used to describe and explain human
    learning, recognizes the importance of the
    processes used by the brain to learn.

Assumptions of Cognitive Theory
  • Some learning processes are unique to humans.
  • Individuals are actively involved in the learning
    process by controlling their learning.
  • Learning involves an internal, mental change.
  • Knowledge is organized by association and
  • New knowledge is related to previously learned
  • Inferences about mental processes can be drawn by
    observing student behavior.

Implications of Cognitive Theory
  • Learning is a function of how information is
  • Therefore, we as educators should be concerned
    with students cognitive processes. We need to
    be aware not only of what students are learning,
    but how students are learning.
  • Piaget and Vygotsky determined that kids develop
    more complex reasoning processes over time.
  • Therefore, when planning units of study and
    methods of instruction, we must consider the
    students current cognitive level of functioning.

Implications of Cognitive Theory, continued
  • As people learn, they mentally organize new
  • Therefore, it is important to present material in
    an organized fashion.
  • Learning is more likely to occur when people
    associate new material with previously learned
  • Therefore, we must help students relate new
    information to old information.
  • Students control their own learning by being
    mentally involved in the classroom.
  • Therefore, we need to monitor students to ensure
    they are paying attention, thinking, and

Why do you
  • work out?
  • go shopping?
  • get involved in a book study?
  • read a novel?
  • watch a movie?
  • cook dinner for your family?
  • modify your lesson plans?

What motivates people to engage in an activity?
  • People engage in activities because they are
    enjoyable and/or rewarding.
  • People might engage in an activity because it
    results in something rewarding.
  • think of something you dowhat do YOU GET OUT
    OF IT???
  • How many things do you do that arent fun or that
    arent beneficial? WHY??

Definition of Motivation
  • Motivation is an internal state that
  • arouses us to action
  • pushes us in particular directions
  • keeps us engaged in certain activities
  • Motivation determines to what extent a student
    will actually learn.

Importance of Motivation
  • Students will always be motivated by something.
  • It is our responsibility to determine WHAT
    motivates students.

Discussion Question
  • If a student walks into your classroom motivated
    to learn, what behaviors does that child exhibit?

If a student is motivated to learn, he will
  • engage in an activity with greater energy and
  • set goals for himself.
  • increase time on task by initiating work and by
    persisting despite difficulty and interruptions.
  • be cognitively engaged, i.e. actually thinking
    about whats being taught.

Extrinsic Intrinsic Motivation
  • Extrinsic motivation occurs when the source for
    motivation comes from outside the person and
    task. ( desire for rewards, fear of punishment,
    need for positive recognition, etc)
  • Intrinsic motivation occurs when the source of
    motivation comes from within the individual and
    task. The individual sees the task as enjoyable
    and worthwhile.
  • Group work With the people sitting at your
    table, make a list of both extrinsic and
    intrinsic motivation that occurs in school.

Both can be effective, but
Intrinsic motivation is more beneficial than
extrinsic motivation to promote learning.
  • Students who are intrinsically motivated are more
    likely to
  • Begin a task on their own
  • Pay attention
  • Learn material in a meaningful way
  • Show creativity
  • Be persistent despite failures
  • Enjoy the activity
  • Evaluate their own progress
  • Achieve at high levels

The bad news for middle school teachers
  • Although most students start school with a high
    level of intrinsic motivation to learn, they tend
    to lose this motivation as they get older.

So how can we promote intrinsic motivation?
  • Relate units of study to the students lives.
  • How are the effects of the tsunami in December
    similar to the destruction caused by Mt. Vesuvius
    in 79 A.D.?
  • How would you have reacted if your mother
    embarrassed you in front of your peers like this
    character did?
  • Talk about intrinsic motives.
  • You must be proud of yourself for getting a B on
    that quiz.
  • Im glad you enjoy doing this simulation.
  • Its important you understand how to reduce
    fractions. You use this when you..
  • Pursue and discuss your own individual interests.
  • I really enjoying watching the Mavericks it
    makes me want to get there and play basketball!
  • talk with your tablewhat ARE they interested

Group Work with your department
  • Working with your department, come up with a list
    of ways to promote intrinsic motivation among
    your students. Make your methods specific to
    your subject matter.
  • Again, the 3 ways to encourage this are
  • Relate subject to students lives
  • Talk about intrinsic motives
  • Pursue and discuss your own interests

Group Work with your team
  • Now that you have come up with some ways to
    encourage intrinsic motivation within your
    subject matter, you are going to be working with
    your team.
  • Make a list of ways to intrinsically encourage
    students to excel. Since everyone on your team
    teaches the same students, you may want to think
    of specific methods for individual students who
    might need more encouragement than others.

  • What do you feel is the most important need for
    middle school students?

Theorists have studied several humans needs which
have implications for the classroom
  • Maslows Hierarchy of Needs
  • Need for Competence and Self-worth
  • Need for Relatedness
  • Need for Affiliation
  • Need for Approval
  • Need for Achievement

1. Implications for Maslows Hierarchy of Needs
  • Safety Students need to be aware of classroom
    expectations and to have routines established.
  • Love and belongingness Students need to feel as
    though they are part of a group. This can be
    manifested by a M.S. student conforming their
    dress, speech, and actions to be like other
  • Esteem In order to be respected, a M.S. student
    may act in ways that will bolster his image in
    front of peers. Conversely, some students
    exhibit low self-esteem.

2. Need for Competence and Self-worth
  • Robert White (1959) suggested that humans have a
    basic need for competence, a belief that they
    can deal effectively with their environment.
  • Martin Covington (1992) suggested that self-worth
    (defending ones competency) is a primary need
    for humans. This can be done by
  • Consistently succeeding
  • Avoiding failure
  • Setting low expectations
  • Refusing to participate in an activity or to
    complete an assignment
  • Making excuses
  • Cheating
  • Procrastinating
  • We see these behaviors on a daily basis, dont

Addressing the needs described by Maslow the
need for competence self-worth
  • Allow students to take restroom breaks.
  • Allow students to drink water in the classroom.
  • Refer sick or troubled students to the nurse or
  • Change classroom activities frequently.
  • Encourage students to ask questions.
  • Acknowledge students achievements.
  • Have an orderly classroom.
  • Have students follow procedures for daily tasks.
  • Be consistent in dealing with students.
  • Clearly define expectations.

Group Activity
  • Brainstorm with the people at your table. Can
    you come up with 10 ways to meet students basic
    needs, as well as their needs for competence and
    self-worth? Be as specific as possible.

3. Need for Relatedness
  • Middle school students want to be connected
    socially to others. They feel this leads to love
    and respect. It might be manifested in the
    following ways
  • Prioritizing socializing over working on school
  • Trying to look popular, smart, foolish, athletic,
  • Showing concern and helping others

4. Need for Affiliation
  • Need for affiliation describes students who
    desire friendly relationships. Some students
    have a high need for affiliation, whereas others
    have a low need.
  • Students with a high need for affiliation might
  • Be nervous when watched by others
  • Communicate frequently
  • Be affected by peer pressure
  • Be more interested in relationships than tasks
  • Earn lower grades than their peers
  • Thrive in a classroom with a nurturing teacher

5. Need for Approval
  • Some students have a strong desire to look good
    in front of others.
  • How this might be observed
  • Seeking teacher recognition/approval
  • Seeking peer recognition/approval
  • Which of these 2 do we see more in the middle
  • Note Students with a high need for approval
    tend to be less popular than their peers.

6. Need for Achievement
  • Some students have an intrinsic desire to achieve
    excellence. These students might be persistent,
    be realistic about tasks, and set high standards.
  • Can you think of a student this describes?
  • Covington and Omelich (1991) have proposed that
    learners can be divided into four groups
  • Over-strivers
  • Optimists
  • Failure avoiders
  • Failure accepters
  • Can you think of a student who could fit into
    each of these categories?
  • The need for achievement might be influenced
    more by
  • specific tasks and subjects rather than true for
    all areas.

Addressing the needs for relatedness,
affiliation, approval, and achievement
  • Foster healthy teacher-student relationships
  • Take a student to lunch.
  • Get involved in the mentoring program.
  • Attend extra-curricular events.
  • Show interest in their lives.
  • Ask about a students day and then listen.
  • Give students birthday cards.
  • Give small gifts to the class.
  • Acknowledge them
  • Encourage students.
  • Allow students to communicate with their peers.
  • Discussion with a partner
  • Cooperative learning
  • Skits
  • Peer-evaluation
  • Inform students what material will be evaluated
    on a test i.e. tell them specifically what to
  • Challenge students.
  • Q Which of these do we already do successfully?

Group Activity
  • Brainstorm with the people at your table. List
    ways you could meet students needs for
    relatedness, affiliation, approval, and
    achievement. Be as specific as possible.

Homework Assignment
  • Individually, make a list of 5 ways you think you
    could help to ensure your students needs are
    being addressed.
  • Set a goal How many techniques can you commit
    to implementing over the next couple of weeks?
  • (Dont over do it, though!)
  • Team Leaders In an upcoming team meeting, set
    aside 10 minutes for your team to share their

  • Ormrod, J. (2004). Human learning. 4th ed. Upper
    Saddle River, NJ Merrill Prentice Hall.