Title of Presentation

Stimulating Student Motivation To Learn
Joseph B. Cuseo, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Psychology
Educational Consultant, AVID
[email protected]
1. Working Definition of Student Motivation
2. Key Distinctions: Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation
3. Key Suppositions/Propositions about the Nature of Student
4. Key Principles of Student (Human) Motivation
Working Definition
Student Motivation:
The determination, drive, or will to learn.
(Note: Motivation derives from the Latin roots “movere”
and "motare"—meaning to move, shake or stir.)
Key Distinctions
* Extrinsic Motivation: student learning that’s driven by
external rewards or incentives—i.e., learning engaged in as a
“means to another end” or consequence—e.g., as means for
obtaining a good grade, employment, or acceptance at
another school.
 * Intrinsic Motivation: student learning that’s driven by
internal/inherent interest in the learning task or learning
process—i.e., learning that is self-rewarding or “end in
itself ”—rather than as a means to another end.
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?
“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make
him drink.”
Classic Quote
“The proper question is not, ‘How can people motivate
others?’ but rather, ‘How can people create the
conditions within which others will motivate
—Edward Deci & Richard Flaste,
WhyWe DoWhatWe Do: Understanding Self-Motivation
Key Suppositions/Propositions
* Student motivation and student learning are inextricably
* Student motivation involves a variety of underlying processes
and is influenced by multiple dimensions of the self (e.g.,
personal attitudes, emotions, needs, beliefs, and values).
* Student motivation is malleable and modifiable.
* Student motivation is a measurable learning outcome.
* Student motivation is a powerful learning outcome.
Classic Quotes
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
—William Butler Yeats, Irish poet and playwright
“Collateral learning—the way of formation of enduring attitudes, of
likes and dislikes—may be and often is much more important than
the lesson in geography or history that is learned. The most
important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on
—John Dewey, American philosopher, psychologist and
educational reformer
Key Principles of Student (Human)
1. Personal Validation (Individual Affirmation)
2. Self-Efficacy (Self-Confidence & Self-Empowerment)
3. Meaning & Purpose (Perceiving Connections & Relevance)
4. Engagement (Active Involvement)
5. Social Integration (Belongingness)
Which one of the five just-mentioned principles of student
(human) motivation is most interesting to you or most
relevant to your work with students?
Personal Validation
(Individual Affirmation)
Student motivation is enhanced when students feel personally significant—
i.e., when they feel recognized as individuals, that they matter to the
institution, and that the institution cares about them as total (whole)
human beings.
Key Strategies:
* Knowing Who Our Students Are: Learning Their Names & Referring to
Them by Name
* Knowing About Our Students: Using a Student Information Sheet to learn
about our students’ personal backgrounds, future plans, abilities
(talents), interests, values, learning expectations, habits and styles.
(Self-Confidence & Self-Empowerment)
Students are more likely to strive for and achieve success when
they believe that their personal effort matters—when they
think they can exert significant influence or control over the
outcomes of their educational experience and their future
(Self-Confidence & Self-Empowerment)
Key Strategies:
* Balancing Challenge & Support: “Scaffolding” to Create
Moderate Challenge
* Providing Effective Performance-Enhancing Feedback
* Exposing Students to Successful/Inspirational Role Models
(With Whom They Can Identify)
(Perceiving Connections & Relevance)
Motivation is strengthened when students find meaning or
purpose in their learning experience—i.e., when they
perceive relevant connections between what they’re
learning in college, their current life, and their future
(Perceiving Connections & Relevance)
Key Strategies:
1. Helping Students Make Meaningful Connections
across the Curriculum & Co-curriculum
a) Making connections across the curriculum (i.e., between
courses and disciplines)
b) Making connections between the curriculum and the cocurriculum
(Perceiving Connections & Relevance)
Key Strategies:
2. Helping Students Make Connections between Their
College Experience & the “Real World”
a) Relating academic learning to current, newsworthy events
b) Engaging students in experiential learning (e.g., internships,
service learning, co-curricular experiences)
c) Using reality-simulating learning exercises in the classroom
(e.g., simulations, scenarios, case studies, problem-based
(Perceiving Connections & Relevance)
Key Strategies:
3. Helping Students Make Relevant Connections between
College Learning and Their Personal Life
a) Articulating learning outcomes that relate to the development of student
skills and that connect with their personal goals
b) Providing students with a rationale for why they’re learning what their
learning and how they’re being asked to learn it
c) Allowing students opportunities to make personal choices & decisions
about what they will learn and how they will demonstrate what they
have learned
(Active Involvement)
Student motivation increases with the degree or level of
student engagement in the learning process increases—
both inside and outside the classroom.
(Active Involvement)
Key Strategies:
* Capturing Initial Interest & Curiosity:
a) Intentionally titling learning topics to stimulate student interest
b) “Setting the stage” for learning topic with a provocative prompt
(e.g., a thought-provoking quote, provocative passage, powerful
picture, intriguing artifact, or content-relevant cartoon)
c) Starting the learning experience by creating cognitive dissonance
(e.g., posing a controversial question, surprising or
counterintuitive statement, dilemma or paradox).
(Active Involvement)
* Recapturing Attention:
a) Changing learning routines/formats (information
presentation, whole-class discussion, small-group work, selfreflection exercises, guest speakers, panels, role plays)
b) Changing modalities of sensory input and students’ seating
location (physical movement)
c) Capitalizing on human emotion (e.g., poignant pictures,
drama, role play, games)
(Active Involvement)
* Creating an Intentional Start-to-Finish Sequence of Student
a) At the start of the learning experience: Activate (Warm Up)
b) During the learning experience: Punctuate (Break It Up)
c) After the learning experience: Consolidate (Wrap It Up)
Would you agree with the following statement?
“If students are engaged (actively involved in a
learning experience), they will learn from that
Classic Quotes
“We choose and engage in what we find most meaningful.
Students are no exception, and they now have more choices
on how to spend their time and invest themselves. Students
can experience so much of the world today so easily, but do
they forego the discipline and time to reflect, construct and
create meaning from their exposure? Just being busy is
—Larry Braskamp, Developing Global Citizens
Classic Quotes
[Effective colleges] “are not just fostering ‘engagement’ (as if
simply being engaged in something, anything, were enough),
they are helping students with their calling, something to be
engaged about.”
—Jon Wergin, Putting Students First: How Colleges Develop
Students Purposefully
Student motivation is strengthened when learning takes
places within the context of human interaction,
collaboration, and the formation of interpersonal
relationships between the student and other members of
the college community—faculty, staff, and peers.
1. Promoting Interpersonal Connections between Students and
Faculty—inside and outside the classroom
Key Strategy: The “Interactive Lecture”—Posing Open-Ended
Questions (Divergent-Thinking) Questions during Informational
2. Promoting Interpersonal Connections between Students and
Staff—interpersonal contact with student-support
Key Strategy: “Course-Integrated” Support—bringing
student-support professionals to class as guest speakers or
bringing students to student-support professionals via course
3. Promoting Interpersonal Connections between Students and
Their Peers:
Key Strategies:
a) Small-Group Discussions (Pairs, Triads, Quads)
b) Collaborative Learning: students reach consensus in small
c) Cooperative Learning: intentional, instructor-created learning
teams who work as a team toward a common goal (unified
work product)
What unanswered questions do you still have, or what
more would you like to know about student motivation?
Recommended References
Deci, E. L. (1975). Intrinsic motivation. New York: Plenum.
Deci, E., & Flaste, R. (1996). WhyWe DoWhatWe Do: Understanding Self-Motivation. New York:
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human
behavior. New York: Plenum.
Dweck, C. S. (1999). Self-Theories:Their role in motivation, personality, and development.
Philadelphia, PA: The Psychology Press.
Ginsberg, M. B., & Wlodkowski, R. J. (2009). Diversity & motivation: Culturally responsive
teaching in college. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Reeve, J. (1996). Motivating others: Nurturing inner motivational resources. Needham Heights,
MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Wlodkowski, R. J. (2008). Enhancing adult motivation to learn: A comprehensive guide for
teaching all adults (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Thank you
Joseph B. Cuseo, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Psychology
Educational Consultant, AVID
[email protected]
Thank you for your participation!

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