How Can A Teacher Motivate Students Education Essay

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Student motivation is a very important part of a learning process in a classroom. Motivation is needed to make classes interesting in order for students to have a good learning environment, which will facilitate their learning overall. Therefore, the purpose of this project is to find out new ways to motivate students studying English in a fifth year of primary school, who seem to have fallen into a routine and show no real interest in English, so that they have a desire of learning this language. To approach this, the research paper will try to search and answer the following question: How can I motivate more a group of children that seem to have fallen into a routine, and show no real interest in the class?

The reason why this research question was made, was because the teacher noticed her students were falling into a routine. Consequently, they were losing all interest in learning English. Furthermore, the teacher noticed that her students were learning English in a very mechanical way, because of her teaching methods and, they did not really know how to speak English in a specific context.

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Therefore, by observing this group and looking at their subject topics, considering their age and the problem, I have come up with the idea of practicing the different topics of the syllabus in a more interactive way - using role playing - with the purpose of motivating the students. If the results are positive, further analysis into the way of implementing the teaching method should be investigated and established, as this paper will discuss the findings of a two week period.

2. LITERATURE REVIEW

The topic of motivation has been studied by many psychologists. The most important thing to consider is that there are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. The "intrinsic motivation is task motivation that derives from an inherent interest in the learning tasks, while extrinsic motivation refers to the external influences that affect the strength of learner's motivation such as that which comes from teachers and parents" [1] .

On one hand, intrinsic motivation is "striving inwardly to be competent at something and to reward yourself inwardly" [2] . Students who have this type of motivation tend to have fewer problems to study, as they have an inner necessity to learn. So, this is more beneficial for the child, and it is probable that s/he likes to learn in class. Teachers do not need extra work with this type of students, just basic control, to check that the students' motivation is maintained.

On the other hand, extrinsically motivated children tend to have more problems to study. A student who needs motivation from outside, is very dependant on another source to push him or her to do things. In addition, this type of students are used to receiving rewards from outside (teacher, parents, etc.) every time they do something well. So, if this reward is not received, their motivation decreases considerably. This affects the child's learning, as s/he will tend to be dependant on rewards to learn and improve.

This means that, although some students may be self-motivated, a teacher can contribute in motivating her/his students. The first and most important thing that a student needs to feel motivated is a sense of success. When a student performs an activity in which s/he is good at, s/he will feel happy with himself / herself and, will probably like the experience. Therefore, teachers should know their students well enough to determine every student's strengths, and work on their motivation starting from what they like.

In addition, further searching into the issue of creating role activities in English class, I found that students are more motivated to speak English if they perform a role-play. This teaching method keeps students active, doing something different, while it gives them a more realistic environment in which to practice English.

For these reasons above I thought that I could motivate my students by preparing more interactive classes, where they could all participate, practice more spoken English, reduce their anxiety (if they have any) in speaking English, and make them feel happy with themselves.

3. THE CONTEXT

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The school in which the research investigation is going to take place is a private school called "Sagrado Corazón de Maristas" in Alicante. It is located ten minutes from the city centre by car and, it is surrounded by families of a medium to high economical situation. The school offers from nursery to secondary school, and the education is catholic oriented.

The school is divided into different areas: one for nursery, another for primary grades, and another third for the secondary-year students. Within each grade, there are four different classes (from A to D). Hence, for the purpose of this research investigation, I will concentrate in one classroom only: fifth "D" of primary school.

This classroom is long and wide. It has large double windows on one side, and the exit door on the other side, in a corner. As one enters, one finds two blackboards that cover the whole wall on the right; a dais as long as the board, where the teacher's table and chair are situated and, where the blackboard finishes, there is a door that connects to the next classroom. The rest of the classroom has individual tables and chairs for the children, so it can be organized in different ways. This is an important detail for our investigation. On the wall that is to the right of the entrance door, there are hangers for the children's coats.

The students from this class are around ten years old. There is a balance between boys and girls and, although with their teacher they are not very enthusiastic and motivated in class, when I come they show some more interest in what we are going to do and why I am there. No other individual characteristics can be observed in any student.

4. DATA COLLECTION

This research has been divided into two parts. The first part has the purpose of studying the problem inside the class, prior to beginning the changes for improvement. The objective is to study the situation in the moment prior to taking action for improvement. To collect these results, a decision had to be established on the characteristics to be found in class related to the children's behaviour and to the thesis made. Then, these characteristics were included in an observation grid, which was used in class during the observation. (See below).

The way to proceed was watching the students in their "natural environment", that is, working in their English class, but without interfering at all. So, I only checked "yes", "no" or "sometimes", as corresponded, in the results table, while the students and their teacher had a regular class. This data collection was done like this, so that the gathering of these results would be reflected as real as possible.

(Week 1: Two days of 50 minutes)

STUDYING THE PROBLEM RESULTS:

CHARACTERISTICS

YES / NO /SOMETIMES

Students participate in class

Sometimes (Normally when asked)

Students do class activities quickly

No

Students start quickly an activity sent

No

Students show interest in the lesson

No

Students try to speak English themselves

No

Students speak to each other during explanations

Yes

(Note: This represents the majority of the children of the class, though this is not true for all the students).

RESULTS GRAPH: Week 1

The second part of the data collection took place during the implementation of the new teaching method, including some new motivational activities. This part of the research was done in sessions of fifty minutes, two days per week. During this time period, the teacher explained the lesson for fifteen to twenty minutes, and the other half an hour was left for children to practice with activities related to the topic explained that required their involvement. For example, in this case, the children were learning the unit related to the food so, the teacher organized the class as a market with photographs of different products. Then, some students acted as shoppers and others as buyers.

While this activity was taking place, I proceeded to observe the different students participating. Again, the participation of each pair of students was recorded in an observation table. (See below). I think this method is the most appropriate for this part of the investigation, since the specific data needed can be collected answering the questions on the questionnaire by observing, without interfering with the students' behaviour, as they were busy doing the activity.

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(Week 2: Two days of 50 minutes)

CHARACTERISTICS

YES / NO /SOMETIMES

Students participate in class

Yes

Students do class activities quickly

Yes

Students start quickly an activity sent

Yes

Students show interest in the lesson

Yes

Students try to speak English themselves

Yes

Students speak to each other during explanations

No

(Note: This was done with the interaction of every two students performing the activity, and this reflects the final results).

RESULTS GRAPH: Week 2

Students do Students

activities quickly show interest

 

A third way to collect the data, linked to the two weeks sessions, was by means of a questionnaire at the end of the last session. This questionnaire was given to each student, so they would fill it in, individually, at the end of the last session. (See Appendix A). The questionnaire is short and to the point. It includes key questions to gather the relevant data, to figure out if the activity they have undertaken had helped students learn English sentences related to shopping.

5. DATA ANALYSIS

Once all the data was collected in the class by the different processes described above, it was put together to be analysed and, then, interpreted. To analyse the data, a table grid was first used. (See p.6 in the Data Collection). In the table, all the different characteristics have been included. Each characteristic shows the percent of students that were observed to perform it in class during the research. These results were noted down and then an average was found, and presented in the table. Once the table was completed, a graph was done, to see and analyse the information better. The graph also helps compare results from before and after the implementation of the new teaching methods.

I think that this way of collecting and analysing the data is the most effective. During the observation, the students are in their everyday environment. Although they may be aware of you at the beginning, once they get going with their activity, they forget that someone is watching.

Then, making a table gathers all the information that has been observed in real numbers. Moreover, the graph gives a general view of the results, putting them all in perspective, so that they can all be compared to one another.

With respect to the third method of gathering information, the questionnaire, a simple counting was made. That is to say, question 1 was taken and every "yes" and "no" were counted. This was done with all the questions and changed into percents. Then, this information was turned into a graph so that it could be analysed and compared better.

The reason for deciding to do a questionnaire to the students was to find out their thoughts with respect to the activity. Therefore, the questions tried to be simple so, they were written in a way they could be answered "yes" or "no".

I think this is a good way of knowing their opinion on what they have done, in a concise way. Furthermore, it tells the investigator whether the activity has been successful or not, by looking at the results of the last question.

FINDINGS

By looking at the results graph of week 1, it can be noticed that students participated little in class before the implementation of the new teaching method. They did not pay much attention to the teacher in class, as they moved continuously in their chairs, spoke to their peers and took a long time to start and do an activity sent. In addition, they did not try to speak English in class, unless they were asked to do the effort.

During the first part of the study, I limited myself to observing the class in their day-to-day for two sessions. Here, I noticed that, in general, the children's postures were those of boredom (bodies leaning back in the chair, heads leaning on the hand). In addition, there were many periods of children not paying attention (speaking to each other during explanations, some drawing on a piece of paper, or in the English book, girls playing with their hair, etc). As seen from the mentioned graph, this was true for the majority of the students.

Once the implementation of the activities suggested to motivate the students took place, the attitude of the students towards the English class changed dramatically. The first visible progress observed was their change of attitude towards the class. When the students saw me, they were very happy and glad. Then, at the end of the class, they asked when I was coming back. This was the first visible sign that they were becoming motivated towards their English class. All this progress is reflected in the graph of week 2 (p.8).

As it can be seen from this graph, all the students wanted to participate in the activity. Once everybody had a go in their different role, they all wanted to do the other role. Furthermore, during the activity they made the effort to speak English, and did not apparently show fear of making a mistake. Sometimes, if one student made a mistake related to the structures to be practiced, another student or more corrected him/her.

With the observations described above, it could be said that, apparently, students appeared more motivated while they were enrolled in the activity. Hence, considering the research question, the teacher could try implementing some activities based on the teaching syllabus to break the routine of a group of unmotivated students.

7. CONCLUSIONS

Overall, the results of this research were very successful. The main findings can answer the question that was made at the beginning of this research paper: the group had fallen into a routine (or so it appeared), and the solution was searching for ways to learn English with the book (as they are always a reference for students and the teacher), and with interactive activities to complement and reinforce their learning. With this change, the students became more motivated, making an effort to practice the grammar and learn in a more active way. In fact, it should be mentioned that the research clearly shows an almost "miraculous" improvement of students. (my sentiments exactly) By looking at the results graphs, one can appreciate the amazing change that takes place, as students change from unmotivated and bored to very active, willing to "speak" English and participate in activities, showing an enormous effort.

To further analyse whether this research, and the methodology used in it was successful, a SWOT analysis will be made. First of all, the strengths of this research are the fact that students always acted in their regular way. The fact that there was someone observing did not alter their attitude towards their English class. This could be seen especially at the beginning, during the observation stage, since they did not mind that a new person was watching to speak to each other, to draw, etc. This was important and helpful to determine the problem and, then, find the appropriate way to solve it.

With respect to the weaknesses, these were the key to the problem. The students tended to talk a lot during explanations, especially if these were long. Therefore, there needed to be less explaining and more activities to keep children busy. I believe this is one of the main reasons why the activities proposed and done in class were successful: they kept the students busy and, at the same time, helped them learn new structures by practicing.

Another important weakness was the time. Although the students liked the new way of learning English, it took some time to prepare the activities. So, by the time everything was organized, ten minutes had passed. Furthermore, since there were 22 students in class, it also took time for everybody to have a turn. Exactly. Surely they'd be bored, not keen to participate by the end.

To contrast, the basic and most important opportunity that made this project possible was the fact that I was looking for something to research. So, I went to the school where I did my practices of the career, and spoke to the director, proposing to do a research. Together we came up with this idea. Hence, my opportunity was the fact that there was a class, at the beginning of the school year, with a lack of motivation to study English. In turn, the school had the opportunity with me, to experiment a solution for this group that seemed to have motivational problems.

Finally, the main threat of this research is related to the proposed activities. First of all, if students arrived home telling their parents that they had "played" in English class, without further explanations, parents may not have liked how it sounded, as they could think that the teacher is not teaching English properly. Furthermore, since this activity had to be repeated another session, the parents could have reasons for getting angry, if they misinterpreted their children when speaking about what they are doing in their English class.

Overall, this research has shown me several things. To begin with, it is important for a teacher to be alert and watch out for signs from their students. S/he should analyse every now and then to see if the students are motivated or not, as it is an essential part of the learning process. Then, if s/he finds that there is lack of motivation, an analysis to detect the problem should be made, so that the problem can be solved as soon as possible.

Then, I have also seen from this research that students from fifth of primary school can learn English in a fun and interactive way. There is no reason why all the classes should be grammar oriented, and with a book in front of each student. I would also say from this research that, some students learn better and faster when they act out, or do activities physically. Therefore, the teacher could study the possibility of combining text and written exercises, with more interactive group work, in order for all students to have more opportunities of assimilating the syllabus taught. To do this, a time scale should also be studied.

Hence, if this research had to be repeated, I would do the research with another person, so that the class-group could be divided into two. I think that it is better to work with small groups, when working with children for investigation purposes.

Then, I would also extend the research period one more week, at least, or two, if possible. This would give more time to check if the students like doing the activities in a more continuous manner, or if the improvement (or lack of improvement) is only at the beginning, when there is something new in class, especially in those students who tend to work less. I feel that, having more time to do the research would also show if children learn better in this interactive way, and their motivational level maintains itself higher than with a typical class with the book. Nevertheless, this could be another subject to research, combining it with the investigation of new ways to teach using both the book and interactive activities to reinforce children's learning.

8. REFERENCES / BIBLIOGRAPHY

Psychology campus. (2008). Intrinsic Motivation. Retrieved November 20, 2010, from

http://www.psychologycampus.com/sports-psychology/intrinsic-motivation.html

Sasson, D. (2008, November 07). Tips on How to Motivate Your English Language Learners to Study ESL. Retrieved October 28, 2010, from

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http://ezinearticles.com/?Tips-on-How-to-Motivate-Your-English-Language-Learners-to-Study-ESL&id=1667395

(Chinese or Japanese author). (2010, April 6). Application of Motivation Theories. Retrieved October 28, 2010, from

http://gsyx.cersp.com/article/browse/3272192.jspx

Saiz Carbajal, R. Técnicas de análisis de información. Grupos Unican. Retrieved October 31, 2010, from

http://www.scribd.com/doc/26836817/TECNICAS-DE-ANALISIS-DE-INFORMACION

Marketing teacher Ltd. (November 01, 2010). SWOT Analysis. Retrieved October 31, 2010, from

http://marketingteacher.com/lesson-store/lesson-swot.html