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  • Dr. Donnie

How Do I Motivate My Students?




As I was doing my dissertation on online homework, a big question was how to get students motivated to do it at all. The theme that kept recurring in the research boiled it down to two things: (1) Engagement and (2) Feedback.


Engagement: If students are enjoying what they're learning, they'll want to keep doing it. My 11-year-old son can tell me all sorts of random facts about animals because he's been watching videos on YouTube. That's gotten me to thinking about how we can better engage students in this day of devices and five-minute videos. So I figured, if we can't beat 'em, join 'em! Why not make school curriculum like all the other stuff they enjoy?


Feedback: Students today want immediate results. My oldest son paces in front of the microwave, willing it to produce his food faster. I was about his age when we got our first microwave, which was a modern wonder even though it took up half our kitchen counter. Attention span just isn't what it used to be and I'm convinced that the old way of doing things won't work the way it did (or maybe it didn't) for me. Offering feedback right away often helps with motivation to keep going. Think about earning badges in games and such; this can make it irresistible to play on. What if learning were like that? Actually, gamification is a thing and some people are trying to model that very concept.


At Science Champion, my goal has been to find engaging videos and merge them into a coherent curriculum that students enjoy watching. In addition, they answer one or two questions for immediate feedback, which gives them confidence in the material. This model fulfills the engagement/feedback requirements for a better learning experience.


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