Contributed by: Marc Pollack
When we consider the factors that affect a student’s motivation to participate and excel in a course, basic motivators are usually the first to come to mind. These usually focus on extrinsic methods like grading, as well as intrinsic factors like student interest, though the number of ways to engage students goes well beyond that. The value of both extrinsic and intrinsic factors seems intimately linked, particularly as they relate to building on a student’s stimulation and personal control within the classroom, both of which are necessary to draw in students that aren’t immediately interested with the material. Appealing to students with a given lesson can take a variety of forms, including showcasing novelty, utility, applicability, anticipation, and challenge. Motivating factors for engaging students both inside and outside the classroom generally require more effort on the part of the teaching staff, though the clarity and support provided by this effort makes a significant difference in student engagement. There will always be challenges to motivating students in the classroom, especially among students who care little about their grades, but a bit of extra effort to make teachers appear more approachable and challenge failure mentalities builds tremendously on a good lesson plan.