Motivation: Spurring a Student to Reach Their Potential

By  Layton Funk

Published on  July 12, 2019

Success and motivation

Your student may be in a situation many other students have been in and gotten out of. The lack of motivation and awareness surrounding studying and homework is a fairly common problem that many students have had, especially in high school. The way we at Victory Step Education would address this is to talk to them, get to know them while tutoring, and to find intrinsic and extrinsic motivators we may use and direct towards studying and homework.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is really about the student being interested in a subject matter or getting satisfaction from a job well done. Highly competitive people or creative people typically have high intrinsic motivation. In any case, we would try to see which subject interests a student the most, focus on that to grow it, and extend that interest to other subjects. Praising a student for a job well done and encouraging further good work while offering constructive criticism can really bring a lot out of them. A particular way we would pique interest would be to make it fun for them to do, or at least make it seem like something to accomplish rather than a menial task.

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation is something almost everyone goes through: reaching for explicit goals or consequences. These can range from needing a certain grade, shooting for a scholarship, seeking rewards for achieving certain goals, and planning for long-term success. These motivators are often beneficial if utilized correctly but can also detract from studies as the subject matter might just be viewed as a means to an end. Some students that use extrinsic motivation in a negative way see homework as a chore and studying as a roadblock, rather than a helpful tool. The way to avoid this is to offer a list of mini-goals along the way, making each step less daunting and, therefore, seem more attainable. These mini-goals add up to larger goals, which can be quite rewarding.

Utilizing Motivators

The way we could use these motivators is to set goals, make sure the student understands that studying, practicing, and homework are all a part of life and school and are stepping stones rather than walls to tear down, and drill the idea that the future really does depend on a domino effect of studying, grades, and exam scores. The more they start preparing now, the less stressed they will be in the future, rather than procrastinating until the last minute, effectively making all that work worthless as it doesn’t stick if done in a rush.

Explaining all of this to a student, in not so technical terms, while keeping an upbeat attitude, giving real life experience examples, and teaching good study and test-taking habits typically really helps the student along nicely. Another thing we would do is emphasize that keeping a healthy schedule is a huge part of doing well in not only school, but life, especially as an adult. Achieving a good balance of work, fun, and sleep is key to doing well on a test or staying focused at work. This schedule includes doing homework at a reasonable time and really trying to learn from it and partitioning study times so that it’s not all cramped at the last minute. We would say that these homework and studying time slots don’t have to be hours long! If they are spread out nicely, they will be just small time commitments each day, with a sense of satisfaction and perhaps even some kind of reward from the parent if motivation is very low (this is extrinsic motivation). That is a last resort but has worked in the past.

Victory Step Approach

We have our ways to teach the content, study habits, and test-taking skills along with all these methods of instilling motivation. All of that is done on a very flexible and personalized basis, allowing students to work with their tutors to schedule sessions whenever both are available and at any location they may choose (at home, the library, at the Victory Step office, etc.). This flexibility goes hand in hand with the personalization that our tutors practice, adjusting how they teach and advise their students based on their personality, strengths, and weaknesses. Altogether, tutors at Victory Step are wholly effective at motivating students to learn with a customized, fun, and informed approach.

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