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How to Motivate Students: Some Key Ideas

Janelle Cox

Learning how to motivate students can be quite a challenge for teachers. Regardless of the students’ age or grade level, if a student lacks interest in his coursework, he will not be motivated to expend any effort in it. However, if you show that student how to recognize its value and connect it to his interests and goals, then the unmotivated student will be more likely to invest the time and effort in learning about it. Here are a few strategies try out in your classroom to help you lean how to motivate students.

How to Motivate Students: Show Relevance to the Students’ Lives

Sometimes students are not interested or motivated to learn because they do not see a point in what they are learning. You have to give them a purpose, and show how it is relevant in their lives now, or how it will be in their future. Students are more likely to exert effort if they see how it can relate to them or benefit them. For example, you can point out what professions would use what students are currently learning. It is also helpful to point out when students are learning a specific skill that is a pre-requisite for what they will learn later. You can say, “I am glad you are learning this now, because you need to know this before you can move on.” When students see the value in the material they are learning, they will be more motivated to work on it.

Connect to Students’ Interests

One of the biggest ways that you can get students motivated is to connect to what interests them. In order to this, you must first find out what their interests are. In the beginning of the year, hand out a survey to the class to find out what intrigues your students. This survey can serve as your guide to help you structure your lessons throughout the year. If you find that the majority of the class is into animals, then you can structure your lessons around animals. If you find that a lot of students like to cook, then you can incorporate cooking into your lessons. Well-structured lessons find a way to tap into student interests.

Give Students Some Choice

Another way to enhance student motivation and interest is to give students some degree of choice. Whether it’s allowing them to choose the topic of their paper or giving them a choice board to choose between a few tasks, any element of choice can increase the likelihood that your students will be more motivated. By putting students in control of what or how they will learn, you are giving them a greater sense of ownership. Nonetheless, the more students feel they are in control of their own learning, the better the chance they will be motivated to learn.

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Make Real-World Connections

Studies have shown that when teachers are able to connect what students are currently learning to life outside of the classroom, the students become more engaged. Apply what students are learning to real-world concepts and situations. For example, you can use the news. If you are teaching students about the weather, then you can incorporate news-related videos and articles about the weather. These stories will help students connect that what they are learning in class to the outside world. By pointing out these significances, you can increase the likelihood that you engage your students’ interests.

Make a Cross-Curricular Connection

Many students are not aware of how one subject can lead into another. By helping students make a cross-curricular connection, you are providing students with a sense of context. For example, students may be reading about Rosa Parks in English class and learning about segregation for social studies class, not realizing the connection that they have. Helping students make these connections will lead to a better understanding in both classes, which will hopefully intrigue students’ interest.

Your own passion and enthusiasm can also be a powerful way to increase motivation and student interest. When students see how much you care for, and are interested in, what you are teaching them, it will become contagious. The more enthusiastic you are about the topic, the more likely you will raise their curiosity and intrigue them to learn more about that topic.

Do you know how to motivate students? When your students lack interest in learning, how do you get them motivated? Please share your ideas and strategies with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to, TeachHUB Magazine, and Skyword. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or contact her at

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