(NOTE: You might also be interested in my book, Helping Students Motivate Themselves: Practical Answers To Classroom Challenges.)
And check out its sequel, Self-Driven Learning.
Q & A Collections: Student Motivation brings all my Ed Week posts on student motivation together in one place.
You might also be interested in The Best Ideas For Helping Students Connect Lessons To Their Interests & The World.
Eight Ways To Help English Language Learners Feel Motivated To Read & Write is the headline of one of my posts for The British Council.
I’ve put the word “motivating” in quotation marks for this post because I hate the word. Here’s how I put it in a previous post:
Anytime I hear or read about “motivating students,” I cringe a bit.
An organizing truism (one that I learned during my twenty-year community organizing career) is that you might be able to bribe, cajole, badger, or threaten somebody to do something over the short-term (I’ve certainly done my of that, and I’ve written about the negative results). But I don’t think you can really “motivate” anybody to do anything beyond a very, very, very short timeline, after which the initial enthusiasm quickly dissipates.
However, you can help another person find what will motivate themselves.
The posts in this “The Best…” list more of my thinking around this perspective.
You might also want to check-out articles I’ve written on this topic for other publications (some have similar titles, but different content):
The Washington Post: Bribing students: Another ‘magical solution’ that doesn’t work.
The New York Times: Helping Students Motivate Themselves
Education Week: Helping Students Motivate Themselves
Education Week: Several Ways To ‘Motivate’ the Unmotivated To Learn
Washington Post: Helping students motivate themselves
You might also be interested in The Best Resources For Showing Students Why They Should Continue Their Academic Career and My Best Posts On Students Setting Goals.
In addition, check-out The Best Resources For Showing Students That They Make Their Brain Stronger By Learning.
Here are My Best Posts On “Motivating” Students:
Now This Is The Way To Make Academic Talks Accessible — Great Examples Of Graphic Note-Taking (this post contains a link to a graphic representation of Daniel Pink’s book, “Drive.”)
Does being reminded of money make you an uncooperative jerk or an independent thinker? is a blog post by Daniel Pink on some a new study. Even though it’s not my post, I’m adding it here because it’s probably the best place for it.
CEOs and the Candle Problem is a new article describing an old experiment about motivation and the ineffectiveness of incentives.
Classroom Leadership: Rewards Are Like Crack is by John T. Spencer.
Starting the Conversation on Rethinking Awards Ceremonies is by Chris Wejr.
I’ve previously posted about The Progress Principle, a book by Professor Teresa Amabile. Here’s a short video interview with her:
How Did I Not Know About This National Academy Of Sciences Report On Student Motivation?
Need More Evidence About The Dangers Of Extrinsic Rewards? Here It Is From The Harvard Business Review
Infographic: “How to Motivate Employees” (& Maybe It Says Something About The Classroom, Too)
This video demonstrates both the disadvantages of extrinsic motivation and the importance of helping our students develop creativity:
The Unengageables is a must-read post by Dan Meyer. It’s specifically talking about math, but much of what he says (and links to) related to motivation issues across all classes.
How Incentives Demoralize Us is by Barry Schwartz.
Nine Things Successful People Do Differently is by Heidi Grant Halvorson and appeared in the Harvard Business Review. What makes it particularly useful in class is an online assessment people can take on it — The 9 Things Diagnostic.
Student Motivations and Attitudes: The Role of the Affective Domain in Geoscience Learning is the very long title of a very useful page on motivation research.
14 Videos for Starting Dialogue on Rethinking Rewards, Awards is a must-see post from Chri Wejr.
Sandy Millin has a good post titled Motivation Stations (including student hand-outs) that is specifically geared to motivation for learning a second language.
When 3+1 is more than 4 is Harvard report on a new study that reinforces previous research findings that rewards only “work” if they are unexpected gifts.
Finding Drive is an article in Language Magazine about motivation in learning a second (or third) language.
Motivation Revisited is by David Deubelbeiss.
What does neuroscience research say about motivation and the brain? is by Judy Willis.
PISA 2012 Results in Focus: What 15-year-olds know and what they can do with what they know includes some very useful information, including this:
— OECD Education (@OECD_Edu) January 13, 2014
How to Harness Your Brain’s Dopamine Supply and Increase Motivation is from LifeHacker.
The Power Of Interest is by Annie Murphy Paul.
How to “Bake” Intrinsic Motivation: A Holiday Recipe for Your Classroom or School is from Sam Chaltain and Kim Farris-Berg.
Q-and-A with author Dan Pink: Using motivational questioning and more in the classroom is at Smart Blog on Education.
Three Things That Actually Motivate Employees is from the Harvard Business Review.
When Classroom Culture Conflicts With EdTech appeared in Larry Cuban’s blog. I particularly like the first half, which provides an insightful critique of the tech tool, ClassDojo.
Language learning: what motivates us? is a very interesting article in The Guardian.
Why Incentives Don’t Actually Motivate People To Do Better Work is from Business Insider.
How To Motivate People – 4 Steps Backed By Science is from Barking Up The Wrong Tree.
Classes of Donkeys is by David Truss, and offers some thoughtful commentary on the popular Class Dojo behavior management tech tool.
On Using And Not Using ClassDojo*: Ideological Differences? is by Larry Cuban. Motivating is from ELT Reflections, and is also on Class Dojo.
OECD has published a short post with links titled Why policy makers should care about motivating students. I’ve got a lot of issues with the PISA test (see The Best Posts & Articles On 2012 PISA Test Results). However, the report the post links to contains a lot of important information on motivation.
Student Motivation: Age-Old Problem Gets New Attention is a new report from Education Week, which is very good but would be better if they included links to the studies that are cited. It also includes a survey of Ed Week readers on motivation questions that, because the sample isn’t scientifically identified, is of somewhat limited use.
Q & A Collections: Student Motivation is a post at Education Week Teacher that brings together all my posts — from the last three years — on that topic in one place.
Wanting it enough: why motivation is the key to language learning is from The Guardian.
Gates’ Excuse for Poor Results of Educational Technology: “Unmotivated Students” and A Question for Bill Gates: How Can We Motivate Students When Their Futures Are Bleak? are both by Anthony Cody at Ed Week.
Nurturing Intrinsic Motivation and Growth Mindset in Writing is from Edutopia.
How a Bigger Purpose Can Motivate Students to Learn is from MindShift.
— Todd Finley (@finleyt) January 2, 2015
Q & A Collections: Student Motivation is the title of one of my posts at Education Week Teacher. It brings together all my posts there from the past four years that relate to student motivation.
Motivation and instruction is from Pragmatic Education.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Unmotivated Students is from Cult of Pedagogy.
Prizes as Curriculum: How my school gets students to “behave” is from Rethinking Schools.
Beliefs Come First: Untangling The Knot of Student Motivation is by Daniel Greene.
Avoid Burnout by Asking This Question is from The Harvard Business Review.
Here’s a good summery of research on student motivation from Digital Promise.
Q & A Collections: Student Motivation & Social Emotional Learning is the headline of one of my Education Week Teacher columns.It brings together all my posts on student motivation and Social Emotional Learning from the past five years – in one place!
The Right Way to Bribe Your Kids to Read is a very good column from the NY Times, and it means “bribery” in a different way than you might think.
Motivation matters: New meta-analysis estimates the average effect of motivation interventions is from The Mind Scholars Network.
15 Actionable Strategies for Increasing Student Motivation and Engagement is from Fusion Yearbooks.
What gets students motivated to work harder? Not money is from The Conversation.
Daniel Pink on Incentives and the Two Types of Motivation is from Farnam Street blog. There’s nothing new in the piece, but it does give a nice summary of the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
‘No More Reading For Junk’: an Interview With Barbara Marinak & Linda Gambrell is the headline of one of mymy latest Education Week Teacher columns. In it, Barbara Marinak and Linda Gambrell answer a few questions about their book, “No More Reading For Junk: Best Practices For Motivating Readers.”
Paying do-gooders makes them less persuasive is the headline of an article about yet another study finding that extrinsic motivation doesn’t work.
Column: Hey teachers, please stop using behavior charts. Here’s why is from the PBS News Hour.
The Bonus Effect is from Alfie Kohn.
3 Proven Rituals That Will Make You Motivated is from Barking Up The Wrong Tree.
The Problem with Rewarding Individual Performers is from The Harvard Business Review.
3 science-backed rituals that will boost your motivation is from Barking Up The Wrong Tree.
The Truth About Motivation Most Do Not Believe is from Psy Blog.
Two studies have come out recently reinforcing what we already know about the negative effects rewards have on intrinsic motivation. Unfortunately, both are behind paywalls.
— Boomer Kennedy (@BoomerKennedy) March 9, 2017
Author Interview: ‘Learn Better’ is the headline of one of my Education Week Teacher columns.
What is self-efficacy and how can we help our students to get more of it? is by Shaun Allison.
Understanding these three principles will help you develop true intrinsic motivation is from Quartz and is an interview with pioneer researchers in the field.
How a School Ditched Awards and Assemblies to Refocus on Kids and Learning is from MindShift.
Here’s another example of the dangers of extrinsic rewards: Financial awards can actually discourage whistleblowers from reporting fraud, study says.
On Motivation is by Robert Slavin.
An Important Piece of the Student Motivation Puzzle is a really good piece from Future Ed.
Author Interview: ‘Motivated – Designing Math Classrooms Where Students Want to Join In’ is the headline of one of my Education Week Teacher columns. In it, Ilana Horn, author of “Motivated: Designing Math Classrooms Where Students Want To Join In,” agreed to answer a few questions about her book.
How Small Wins Unleash Creativity is an older summary (but a good one) of The Progress Principle.
‘Liking’ vs ‘wanting’. A neuroscientific view on classroom motivation is from Hobbolog.
An Important Piece of the Student Motivation Puzzle appeared in Future Ed.
Using Learning and Motivation Theories to Coherently Link Formative Assessment, Grading Practices, and Large‐Scale Assessment is a new research paper that looks intriguing, but is behind a paywall.
How to Motivate (Not Demoralize) a Student with ADHD is from ADDitude.
The 3 Things Employees Really Want: Career, Community, Cause is from The Harvard Business Review.
You can access – for free – a big new review of Self-Determination Theory (the key research behind what encourages intrinsic motivation) written by the originators of the theory.
Science in the Learning Gardens (SciLG): a study of students’ motivation, achievement, and science identity in low-income middle schools is a new study. Yup, goes to the same list.
What strategy is most useful in promoting self-efficacy in educators and in learners? is from Digital Promise.
Getting Doctors to Make Better Decisions Will Take More than Money and Nudges is from Harvard Business Review and has lots of connections to education.
A Simple Plan for Significantly Increasing Student Motivation to Write is from Matthew Johnson.
New evidence on fostering motivation is from Greg Ashman.
How to motivate older kids without using rewards, punishment or fear. (No, really.) is from The Washington Post.
Science Confirms It: People Are Not Pets is by Alfie Kohn and is from The NY Times. It includes links to some good research but, as much as I admire much of Kohn’s past work, I think he overstates his case a bit against extrinsic motivation. And, bear in mind, I’m saying this and I have written three books on the value of helping students develop intrinsic motivation.
How Well Do Rewards and Incentives Work to Motivate You? is from The NY Times Learning Network, and it has nearly 150 student responses.
What Motivates Effort? Evidence and Expert Forecasts is a new study.
4 Reasons Good Employees Lose Their Motivation is from Harvard Business Review.
How to unlock students’ internal drive for learning is from The Hechinger Report.
Training new teachers to understand motivation in the classroom: How teacher preparation programs are educating teachers on the pedagogical implications of the social psychology of motivation is from The Mindset Scholars Network.
Rewarding students: should we? If so, how? is from Harry Fletcher-Wood.
Want Teachers to Motivate Their Students? Teach Them How to Do It is from Ed Week.
How to Motivate Kids to Practice Hard Things is a really good piece from Greater Good Magazine. I like it a lot.
Here’s an infographic on motivation and grading.
Extrinsic Motivation: It Might Be Even Worse Than You Thought is from Edutopia.
Praise, Don’t Tease, And Other Tips To Help Kids With Their Weight is from NPR. The advice it offers is applicable to other issues besides weight.
Researchers can detect when students aren’t trying on computerized tests is from The Hechinger Report.
Seven Strategies to Keep Students Motivated All Year Long is from MindShift.
Wild. I observed a Grade 8 class today.
When the teacher passed out spirit points and school cash, the kids got quiet and compliant.
When the teacher showcased student work on the board, kids got quiet and ATTENTIVE. At like 2x the speed of the Class Dojo-style rewards.
— Dan Meyer (@ddmeyer) September 30, 2019
Maintaining Students’ Motivation for Learning as the Year Goes On is by Judy Willis.
Tapping the Power of Intrinsic Motivation is from Harvard’s Usable Knowledge.
Bestselling Author Daniel Pink on What Really Motivates Us To Change is a good interview.
Is a Scholarship Promise Enough to Keep Students on a Path to College? is from Ed Week and, again, shows that just offering “carrots” is not enough.
5 ways to deal with that pesky lack of motivation is from Fast Company.
9 Strategies for Motivating Students in Mathematics is from Edutopia.
Motivating distant learners: schools under coronavirus is by Harry Fletcher-Wood and is very good.
How to Turn on the Part of Your Brain That Controls Motivation is from MindShift.
6 ways to build motivation to do your schoolwork now that you’re forced to learn online at home is from The Conversation.
The Problem with Telling Children They’re Better Than Others is from Scientific American.
The Sciences of Teaching is by Carol Ann Tomlinson and David A. Sousa.
Reframing Achievement Setbacks: A Motivation Intervention to Improve 8-Year Graduation Rates for Students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Fields https://t.co/6l1YuefgvD
— Paul Bruno (@Paul__Bruno) May 9, 2020
US students eligible for financial incentives in the form of performance-based scholarships spent more time on their studies, with no impact on interest or enjoyment, but for only as long as they were eligible, and larger rewards were no more effective: https://t.co/CuaXTBPxre
— Dylan Wiliam (@dylanwiliam) May 1, 2020
We Work Harder When We Know Someone’s Watching is from The Harvard Business Review.
These next documents are from the Mindset Scholars Network:
The relation between student motivation and reading performance is from Best Evidence In Brief.
The Student Motivation Scale: A Tool for Measuring and Enhancing Motivation is a new study (you can also find it here).
INCREASING STUDENT ENGAGEMENT AND MOTIVATION: FROM TIME-ON-TASK TO HOMEWORK is from NORTHWEST REGIONAL EDUCATIONAL LABORATORY and is twenty years old, but has some good stuff.
The Secret to Learning Any New Language May Be Your Motivation is from Ed Surge.
3 Ways to Motivate Your Team Through an Extended Crisis is from The Harvard Business Review.
Students’ Motivation in EFL Learning is an interesting study.
The Good and Bad of Measuring Worker Output in Real Time is from Stanford Business.
Intellectually stimulating students’ intrinsic motivation: the mediating influence of student engagement, self-efficacy, and student academic support is a new research paper. It’s behind a paywall, but there are ways to access it (see The Best Tools For Academic Research).
Liking or Disliking the Teacher: Student Motivation, Engagement and Achievement is an older research paper.
How to Do School When Motivation Has Gone Missing is from The NY Times.
Strategies for Increasing Students’ Self-motivation is a research paper that is new to me.
Perceptions of Student Motivation and Amotivation is new and useful study.
Papers on Motivation for Learning is from Peps Mccrea.
Can Teachers’ Instruction Increase Low-SES Students’ Motivation to Learn Mathematics? is a freely-available chapter from a new book.
Effects of Self-Regulated Learning on Student’s Reading Literacy: Evidence From Shanghai is new freely-available research paper.
Research on motivation and motivational strategies in EFL teaching: A systematic literature review is a new research paper.
Student Motivation and Associated Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis from Self-Determination Theory is a big new study that reinforces most previous research – that we need to focus on intrinsic motivation.
Research: A Little Recognition Can Provide a Big Morale Boost is from The Harvard Business Review. The HBR article relates to writing very short, private letters to employees. Here are some of my previous posts on how I’ve written letters to my students:
Find the Right Words to Inspire Your Team is from The Harvard Business Review.
Use Art to Reignite Your Team’s Motivation is also from The Harvard Business Review.
Adolescent Brains Are Wired to Want Status and Respect: That’s an Opportunity for Teachers and Parents is from Scientific American.
How to Get Things Done When You Don’t Want to Do Anything is from The NY Times.
The Importance of Student Choice Across All Grade Levels is from Edutopia.
Four Ingredients that Motivate Our Learners to Engage is by John Almarode, Douglas Fisher, and Nancy Frey.
Is Your Deeper Learning Instruction Boring Students? is from ASCD.
— Sarah Benskin (@drBlearning) January 24, 2022
‘What Do I Get If I Do It?’ The Cost of Rewards is from Middleweb.
3 Counterintuitive Findings About Motivation That Teachers Can Use is from Ed Week.
Motivation in the classroom is from Evidence Based Education.
Extrinsische vs. intrinsische Motivation… pic.twitter.com/6fcqNn0THp
— Frank H. Baumann-Habersack (@FrankBauHa) May 6, 2022
This Is How To Get People To Change: 5 Secrets From Research is by Eric Barker.
A Quick Gratitude Trick That Builds Lasting Motivation is from PsyBlog.
This is a good video on “motivational interviewing.” Although the video has a health care focus, the concept is applicable to the classroom:
An engaging leadership style may boost employee engagement is from Science Daily.
Feeling Demotivated? Consider How Your Job Helps Others. is from The Harvard Business Review.
What makes work meaningful is mostly not 💰
This paper finds 60% of meaningfulness at work comes from non-economic factors: autonomy (that one has choices & authority over tasks), competence (a feeling of mastery), and relatedness (connection to others). https://t.co/pAdKyaGRXE pic.twitter.com/jFF8N43fEu
— Ethan Mollick (@emollick) August 27, 2022
Sometimes, the embed code for this next video from the Harvard Business Review doesn’t work. If that’s the case, you can go to view it directly at this link.
One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees? is also from The Harvard Business Review.
Motivational Interviewing is from Character Lab.
HOW CAN SELF-DETERMINATION THEORY HELP BOOST STUDENT MOTIVATION? is from InnerDrive.
Motivation Increased 35% By One Simple Instruction is from PsyBlog.
There are a lot of interesting student responses to this NY Times Learning Network prompt, “What Motivates You to Learn?”
IS THE BEST MOTIVATOR… MOTIVATION? is from Inner Drive.
What Is Motivation? is from PsyBlog.
Student and Teacher Motivation, in Charts is from Ed Week.
One Simple Instruction That Will Keep You Motivated is from PsyBlog.
Theories of Motivation in Education: an Integrative Framework https://t.co/eIojI2vBCc
— Paul Bruno (@Paul__Bruno) March 31, 2023
Employee Motivation: A Powerful New Model is from The Harvard Business Review.
— 🌍 ναℓєηтιηα gσηzαℓєz (@ValentinaESL) April 5, 2023
🤳Scan the QR code on the infographic’s right hand corner OR 🔗 To original article:https://t.co/lu7OpQULEk.
— TESOLgraphics (@tesolgraphics) April 7, 2023
Setting the Conditions for Building Knowledge is from ASCD.
STUDENT MOTIVATION: DOES COGNITIVE SCIENCE HAVE THE ANSWER? is from InnerDrive.
CAN YOU BOOST STUDENT MOTIVATION WITH YOUR TONE OF VOICE? is from InnerDrive.
— Motivate Lab (@Motivate_Lab) August 8, 2023
Maybe we’ll have greater success promoting student #motivation if we think about it as three different processes:
* motivational support
* class climate
* individual microclimate
— Learning & the Brain (@learningandtheb) August 12, 2023
Motivating Leadership Change and Improvement: How Principal Evaluation Addresses Intrinsic and Extrinsic Sources of Motivation https://t.co/Qyl5enMcE9
— Paul Bruno (@Paul__Bruno) September 5, 2023
Why Don’t I Feel Motivated at Work Anymore? is from The Harvard Business Review.
How to Motivate a Demotivated Team is from The Harvard Business Review.
Why Aren’t Students Showing Up for School? is from PACE.
Peps Mccrea provides a good overview of motivation at Motivation Handover.
Effective incentives is also from Peps Mccrea.
Feedback is welcome.
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You might also want to explore the 450 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.