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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. 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:
Self-efficacy for math underlies the Motivation to do math. Because of this, students with a higher math self-efficacy will choose to engage in more challenging math tasks.
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.
Building with blocks is ideal for promoting early geometric and Spatial Skills.
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.
Free choice supports learner interests and promotes the development of more complex social interactions.
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.
Providing feedback that focuses on the process of developing skills conveys the importance of effort and motivates students to persist when learning.
Teaching students through guided play encourages them to take an active role in their learning and supports the development of a broad array of cognitive skills.
Learning about students' cultures and connecting them to instructional practices helps all students feel like valued members of the community.
Math centers with math games, manipulatives, and activities support learner interests and promote the development of more complex math skills and social interactions.
Math games use numbers and Spatial Skills, allowing students to practice many math skills in a fun, applied context.
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 strengthen recall.
Multiple writing surfaces promote collaboration by allowing groups to share information easily as they work.
Research shows physical activity improves focus and creativity.
When students reframe negative thoughts and tell themselves kind self-statements, they practice positive self-talk.
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.
Providing students a voice in their learning is critical for making learning meaningful.
Students develop their skills by listening to and speaking with others in informal ways.
Three-phase lesson format is a problem-solving structure to promote meaningful math learning by activating prior knowledge, letting students explore mathematical thinking, and promoting a math community of learners.
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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