What Motivates Students

Photo by Andrew T. Kurtenbach/Prospectus News Graphic Design Professor Paul Young instructs his Typography II students on Tuesday,  Jan. 20, 2015.

Photo by Andrew T. Kurtenbach/Prospectus News
Graphic Design Professor Paul Young instructs his Typography II students on Tuesday,
Jan. 20, 2015.

Jordan Hannah

Staff Writer

As the semester wears on, and the assignments begin to accumulate, finding the motivation needed to get the work done can be challenging. An overwhelming number of students have a hard time finding that motivating factor, which tends to result in the student receiving a poor grade. Students sometimes find that is their life outside the classroom that inspires them, and there may be little that an instructor can do to truly motivate them.

Of course, many teachers will sometimes use different methods to try and help motivate their students, such as setting goals and offering rewards to students for reaching those goals. However, not everybody agrees that this is an effective way to motivate students.

Andrew Weathers is a student at Parkland College. Andrew claimed that when teachers try to motivate students it can sometimes distract students from their goals instead of helping to achieve them.

“We don’t need distractive goals to do work,” Weathers said.

He hopes to get teachers to realize they may be doing more harm than good when rewarding students for work that they should be completing anyway. There are some studies that have been done that support his theory.

One such study conducted by the PBIS Network, a network for school psychologists in Illinois, also shows that some students can achieve higher academic goals outside of the classroom.

Many students are simply motivated by different means than what their teachers might understand. According to Weathers, in some instances it is better for a student to set their own goals and generally motivate themselves.

“Teachers need to back off and allow students to motivate themselves,” Weathers added.

Kelsey Jamerson, a student of both U of I and Parkland, agreed that many people are not motivated by the same things she is.

“My son motivates me because he needs to eat,” Jamerson said. “It was my raising that caused me to be motivated by my son, and knowing that I’m taking care of him.”

Isaac J Thompson, a student attending classes here at Parkland agreed. Thompson cited money as his motivating factor. He also added that he understands why money is important, but in his opinion, other students will not be motivated by money as much as he is.

“I know how much money can help my family and relatives out of certain situations,” Thompson said.

According to Thompson, teachers leaving it up to their students to complete their work, without trying to motivate them, may not work either. He explained that some students may need a little push from their teachers.

“Some students need attention,” Thompson said.

It is difficult for an instructor to know which students may or may not need help so, how should teachers determine which students need more motivation than others? Weathers suggested that teachers should take a more flexible approach.

“Teachers should make their help available to students that are motivated by guidance, but not try to push it on others,” Weathers added.

For students that know they need one on one time with their teacher, office hours are a great way to receive this attention. Many students take advantage of the opportunity to spend time with their instructor outside the classroom to help them achieve their own learning goals.

Many students need personal attention to get the most out of their classes but some do not. According to Weathers, students need time to themselves in order to achieve their goals. Weathers explained that he learns better when he isn’t being guided or “watched over.” Perhaps he came closest to the truth about motivation when he stated that “me motivates myself.”