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Motivation is the desire and energy that guides behavior. When we are motivated, we engage more in what we are doing and learn more. Motivation has an essential influence on math learning.
One important distinction is between intrinsic Motivation, the inherent desire to learn and accomplish goals, and extrinsic Motivation, which is the desire to accomplish goals because of external rewards/recognition or to avoid a negative consequence. Students' general academic intrinsic motivation has been found to decline from upper elementary to high school, with motivation in math showing the steepest decline. Intrinsic and extrinsic Motivation are not mutually exclusive; it is very common for students to be driven by both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators.
For example, they may not be intrinsically interested in a specific assignment but they are motivated to do well for a related long-term goal. Students will be more likely to have intrinsic Motivation when they can connect learning material to their own lives and interests. Moving students towards being more intrinsically motivated is important for long term engagement in math learning.
Some important concepts that impact Motivation include:
Building positive and trusting relationships with learners allows them to feel safe; a sense of belonging; and that their academic, cognitive, and social and emotional needs are supported.
As students solve problems in a group, they learn new strategies and practice communicating their mathematical thinking.
Thinking of and about patterns encourages learners to look for and understand the rules and relationships that are critical components of mathematical reasoning.
Overtly encouraging all students to seek support and ask questions creates a safe space for risk-taking and skill development.
Students are more likely to come to school when families feel like a valued part of the community.
Teachers can help students understand that learning involves effort, mistakes, and reflection by teaching them about their malleable brain and modeling their own learning process.
As students walk through stations working in small groups, the social and physical nature of the learning supports deeper understanding.
Setting overall goals, as well as smaller goals as steps to reaching them, encourages consistent, achievable progress and helps students feel confident in their skills and abilities.
Attributing results to controllable aspects (strategy and effort) fosters students' beliefs in self.
In guided inquiry, teachers help students use their own language for constructing knowledge by active listening and questioning.
Learning about students' cultures and connecting them to instructional practices helps all students feel like valued members of the community.
As students work with and process information by discussing, organizing, and sharing it together, they deepen their understanding.
Math centers support learner interests and promote the development of more complex math skills and social interactions.
When students have meaningful conversations about math and use math vocabulary, they develop the thinking, questioning, and explanation skills needed to master mathematical concepts.
Teachers sharing math-to-self, math-to-math, and math-to-world connections models this schema building.
Brain breaks that include movement allow learners to refresh their thinking and focus on learning new information.
Multiple display spaces help develop oral language skills as well as Social Awareness & Relationship Skills by allowing groups to share information easily as they work.
Visualizing how ideas fit together helps students construct meaning and strengthens recall.
Multiple writing surfaces promote collaboration by allowing groups to share information easily as they work.
Having students teach their knowledge, skills, and understanding to their classmates strengthens learning.
Research shows physical activity improves focus and creativity.
When teachers connect math to the students' world, students see how math is relevant and applicable to their daily lives.
Students deepen their understanding and gain confidence in their learning when they explain to and receive feedback from others.
Providing space and time for students to reflect is critical for moving what they have learned into Long-term Memory.
Response devices boost engagement by encouraging all students to answer every question.
Children's literature can be a welcoming way to help students learn math vocabulary and concepts.
Multicultural resources, such as posters with different types of people and word problems based in different settings, allow all students to see themselves in their math work.
When students give themselves positive self-statements after reaching a goal, they acknowledge their progress and reward their small successes.
Providing students a voice in their learning is critical for making learning meaningful.
When students create their own number and word problems, they connect math concepts to their background knowledge and lived experiences.
Students deepen their math understanding as they use and hear others use specific math language in informal ways.
Wait time, or think time, of three or more seconds after posing a question increases how many students volunteer and the length and accuracy of their responses.
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