10 Important Things You Should Know About Student Motivation

Motivation is what drives us. It’s what compels us to action.

Thus it makes sense for you to really know what motivates students so that the learning experience will be much smoother and their engagement level will be high.

Here are 10 important things you should know about student motivation according to research by educational psychologists.

Motivating Students

1. Have high expectations. Students respond well to high expectations.

The important thing is we help them reach our expectations by setting up a learning environment that will allow them to reach their potentials. We should also model the ways by which they can attain the standards we expect them to reach.

Challenge is one ways to tap their intrinsic motivation.

2. Humor is good. Use it for a variety of purposes in the classroom: stimulation, to illustrate, and to ease tensions.

3. Affirm student differences. Respect their learning styles and interests. That’s why differentiated teaching works.

4. Passion works. In fact, it can be your most powerful motivational tool in the classroom. So exude your passion through your personality and behavior in every opportunity you interact with your students.

5. Get to know your students. Share a bit of your personal life as well. It makes the learning experience easier knowing that you are friends with them.

6. Provide structure in the classroom. Students become motivated in an organized learning environment. This is where mastery of classroom management comes into play.

Managing a classroom

7.  Never work harder than your students. They should be exerting significant effort inside and outside the classroom. In this way, they will learn that effort is essential to be successful.

8. One of your goals as a teacher is to make sure they leave the classroom with a feeling of accomplishment. So celebrate their works by displaying them in the classroom. Provide effective feedback and show them how they are progressing and what they can do to improve further in your class.

9. Make sure your students know the learning goals for every session. Write them down on the board for all to see. In this way, you can always have their attention focused on them during your class. This will motivate them to achieve the learning goals and end each class with a sense of accomplishment.

Definition of an objective

10. Cooperative learning is good. You can start by researching about Kagan structures. A simple activity to use is the think-pair-share routine wherein everyone thinks about a concept or question and then takes turn with a partner to share ideas.


Your turn. How do you motivate your students? 🙂

Share them in the comments below.

We’ll be discussing other powerful ideas on student motivation in the coming posts here in TFT.


Argee Abadines
Argee Abadines is the founder and chief content engineer of this website. He is a brain based educator and his educational interests are pedagogy, higher order thinking, creativity, and educational technology. He is also the founder of Bruner Learning Hub. He currently teaches high school business studies and economics. Previously, he taught English to primary students. He reads up regularly about trends in education and online media. You can visit his personal blog at pinoyminimalist.com


  1. High expectation is good but I would like to suggest a better way of “labeling” expectation based from what I learned from the speakers in PSI. Instead of “high” expectation let’s have a “realistic” expectation. When I say realistic it means that we are basing our expectation on the strengths of the child. These strengths are what he can use to work on list of goals and objectives for him or her to accomplish at a given time.

    What makes me uncomfortable with the term “high” expectation is the vagueness of the term “high”. What is the limit? What is its scope? Stephen Covey said “Begin with the end in mind.” Thus, a realistic expectation that focuses on what the child can do based from his current strengths to accomplish a goal does not mean we are lowering the bar of expectation for this child. Rather it makes us fully aware (both educator and student) what tools we have to work on at the beginning until the very end of the activity. Thus, at the end of the activity we can have a more accurate measure of SWOT to help us move to the next goal.

    1. Hi Teacher Ia!

      That’s a great insight. I think it’s great to identify strengths of students and create targets based on those.

      I think high expectations is expecting the best effort and capability from every student. To have high expectations means to expect the student keeps striving and giving 100% effort in class.

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