Motivation in an Educational Setting

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Parents, students, and community members are actively involved in the education of the students. In today's educational settings, teachers are held accountable if the students do not excel in the TAKS assessment given to the students. Teachers need to use creative ways to guide themselves in dealing with classroom management and keep students motivated, in learning. Teachers are also encouraging students to interact with one another on their experience, interests and learning that are significant to them. The curriculum use by teachers needs to stimulate student's interest in learning. Teachers are to help students gain the essential skills to succeed; they need to help the students to develop the internal motivation to learn. Teacher need to provide a classroom environment that nurtures students the "five basic humanistic needs" which are: survival and security, love and belonging, power through teamwork and proficiency, freedom, and fun.

Teachers, who use a positive attitude towards students, can create a trusting relationship with them. It is, of course, impossible to motivate students in the secondary level; teachers have to use creative ways in motivating student at the high school level. Stickers can be used, but unlike the elementary students some high school students are not into stickers, and praises. So, teachers use extrinsic motivational techniques to offer students the interest or desire to learn. In some schools, educators and administrators are offering students a chance to be in a "lottery" as a reward for being in school without being absent at all. Most of the students I work with are student who are being raised on their own or in some instances both parents have to work and students are left on their own to fend for themselves. The director of the schoolwork for tries every means possible to get the students in being motivated to attend school. Students are given the opportunity to have a chance of being in a lottery to win an mp3 player, a computer or movie tickets. It takes "extrinsic" motivational factors to get the students to come to school. It takes more than one motivational strategy to work in the high school level. The motivational strategies being discussed are: the totally positive approach, humanistic, intrinsic, and extrinsic and behaviorist theories on motivational theories.

The Totally Positive Approach techniques are: changing counterproductive feelings, ending behavior problems, helping underachievers and using active-learning strategies. These techniques will help improve student's success and in the process provide teachers with professional and personal growth. According to Abraham Maslow's theory everyone needs to have their needs met in a hierarchical fashion, from the lowest to the highest needs. These needs are: basic needs, safety, love & belonging, achievement and self actualization. Once all of the levels of psychological needs are met one can be secure in knowing that learning will take place. As educators we are constantly told that students will not be able to function at their full potential if they are lacking food, shelter, and clothes.

The Humanistic theory is based on the belief that all humans need to have the desire for self regards or self concepts. In other word the humanistic theory is all about choices. All humans are motivated by internal desires, whether conscious or unconscious. As an educator, humanistic theory implies that the students are motivated on their desire to achieve success rather than on their behavior. Instead of reacting to specific behavior the learner takes action because he or she wants to be successful in their learning. Teachers who use the Humanistic theory believe that a caring, empathetic instructor will help the students succeed. The humanistic approach helps students with a positive attitude towards learning. This approach helps the student feel secure in regards that the teacher is seen by some students as a "parental figure".

Intrinsic motivation is the desire to do better for oneself; the students want to succeed and accomplished what they want. Extrinsic motivation on the other hand is used as a reward for students. Extrinsic rewards has nothing to do with internal learning, but in getting the students to do their homework, attend school and or come to Super Saturdays for tutoring. In the education setting the Behaviorist theory is based on the principles of what one expects from the students and what teacher are doing to get the students motivating in learning. As educators we "condition" the students by reinforcing (rewards, denials, and punishment), modeling, and imitation, in getting them to do their school work. Accordingly, the behaviorist theory is based on the culture where the person was raised. A Behaviorist is a person who has no "free will" considering on how the student is raise to believe and or behave (humanism's point of view -- and the Psychoanalytic). The "free will" of the individual is ignored or is considered non-existent. Simply, to the behaviorist, normal behavior results from acceptable conditioning, reinforcing, and modeling, whereas, abnormal behavior results from flawed conditioning, reinforcing, and modeling. The behaviorist isn't interested in what developmental processes may have influenced a person's behavior. Or rather how the environment shape the student's personality, but on the outside forces that form the person belief or values. According to William Glasser intrinsic motivation is the development of the control theory. Control theory is the ability to "think" what it is you want or desire, it is a method of "thinking or believing" on the internal wants. For example: students should want to learn for the purpose of getting ahead in life. Many students are not intrinsically motivated, so teachers sometimes use extrinsic rewards. Human beings practice all of these motivational methods at one time or another. Teachers must recognize the outcomes of these motivational techniques and apply individualized instruction in order for students to deal with learning. In order for teachers to change the instructional method used toward developing students' motivational response, they need to use extrinsic rewards which must be carefully thought out and used sparely. If extrinsic rewards are used incorrectly, the students' desire to learn can be jeopardized because they will be dependent upon the reward and not on learning. The cause and effect of the rewards use on intrinsic motivation depends on whether they are positive or negative reinforcements. The use of extrinsic motivation is considered an important aspect in a school setting because rewards and punishment are becoming the norm in the educational systems. The use of motivation in the education system needs to be acknowledged because even though it is ideal to be intrinsically motivated, to get rid of extrinsic forms of motivation can have negative consequences for students who want the praise and the attention because it is the only praise and attention they get from anyone. After reviewing behavioral and cognitive theories of learning, it seems to be the most effective measure to be taken to motivate students to learn. Behaviorist on the other hand believes that the outcome is learned in lieu of observable behavior where it can be analyzed and measured for its progress. Observable behavior is easy to validate because changes are noticeable. But from the cognitive perspective, there is more to learning than 'stimulus-response' correlation. Teachers need to motivate students to use their insight, creativity, drawing conclusions, and problem-solving techniques to get ahead in learning. By having teachers learn on how to motivate students either intrinsic or extrinsic they can begin to understand why it is essential that motivation is an important factor for students to acquire for learning. The Skinnerian approach (aka behaviorist) a teacher can use to reward and punish their students to motivate them, it can also hinder their self-esteem if used unjustly. Katt and Condly agree that the role of the teacher is comparative to that of a manager because they use their "power" to reward or punish their students to get results. Young and Vigronstinos also agree that Hispanic parents are always "pushing" their children to excel in everything they do because they want a better life for their children, instead of having them suffer like they did. Teachers who are well-prepared and passionate about their subjects can have a positive turnout among the students. A teacher may appear to be simple, but teachers are constantly faced with classroom management, lesson plans, walk through, parents conferences, ARD's and external evaluations, can have a negative approach to teach anyone.

In conclusion school administrators, teachers and the community in general, need to be supportive of each other in order for a teachers' "motivational plan" to work on a educating a student. Even though the school administration and community should be responsible for setting priorities of intrinsic motivation throughout the schools, the responsibility of using this concept falls on the teacher since they are the ones that are with the student's everyday and they are able to influence the students' motivational drive.