Volume 1, 2015
Practices in Pedagogy
How to Motivate Students
A Primer for Learner-Centered Teachers
Learner-centered pedagogy defines successful teaching in terms of student learning—and a necessary condition of learning is the motivation to learn. The purpose of this paper is to provide learner-centered teachers with the basic information they need in order to be able to successfully motivate their students. In particular, I focus on three beliefs that are important to students’ motivation to learn: (1) beliefs about the subjective value of the learning goals; (2) beliefs about their ability to achieve these goals; (3) beliefs about how well their learning environment supports their learning. I provide concrete suggestions about how we can strengthen these beliefs to increase student motivation. One important implication of the relevant research is that the traditional motivator—the desire for good grades—can be relatively ineffective and, in fact, counterproductive.